3 more officers on leave over arrest of woman with dementia

DENVER (AP) — Three more police officers involved in the rough arrest of a 73-year-old Colorado woman with dementia have been placed on leave.

Officer Daria Jalali, Officer Tyler Blackett and Sgt. Phil Metzler were placed on administrative leave Friday in connection with the arrest of Karen Garner in Loveland, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Denver, last year, city police department spokesman Tom Hacker said Wednesday.

After Garner filed a federal lawsuit earlier this month and her lawyer released body camera footage of her arrest, the department announced it was putting the arresting officer, Austin Hopp, on administrative leave and said that Jalali and Metzler, shown on Hopp’s body camera footage, were being placed on desk duty.

Hacker said he did not know specifically what led to the changes in Jalali, Blackett and Metzler’s status but said Blackett helped transport Garner to the police station.

The officers could not be located for comment.

Blackett’s involvement in the arrest was not publicly known until he was seen on surveillance video from the police station released by Garner’s lawyer Monday. Its shows Hopp, Jalali and Blackett watching Hopp’s body camera footage as Garner is held handcuffed to a bench in a holding cell a few feet away.

Garner’s lawsuit said Hopp dislocated her shoulder during the arrest and that she did not receive medical care for about six hours after being taken to the county jail.

While the officers watched the part of the body camera footage that showed Hopp holding Garner against a patrol car, Hopp said, “Ready for the pop?”, suggesting he was aware that he had injured her.

The body camera footage, which can be heard but not seen on the police station video, shows Hopp holding the handcuffed Garner facing away from him against the car. When she tried to turn around and said, as she did repeatedly, that she was trying to go home, he pushed her back against the car and moved her bent left arm up near her head, holding it, saying, “Are you finished? Are you finished? We don’t play this game.”

About 30 seconds later, Garner began to slump toward the ground. Jalali, who recently arrived, said, “Stand up! We’re not going to hold you.”

The videos and lawsuit come amid a national reckoning over the use of force by police against people — including those with mental and physical health conditions.

Hopp arrested Garner in June 2020 after she allegedly left a store without paying for about $14 worth of items. His body camera footage shows Hopp catching up to her as she walked through a field along a road. She shrugged and turned away from him and he quickly grabbed her arm and pushed her 80-pound (36-kilogram) body to the ground.

Earlier in the surveillance video from the police station, before they watched the body camera footage, Hopp and Jalali fist-bumped before talking about how the arrest went.

Hopp said he thought they “crushed it” but Jalili hesitated to answer. She eventually said that she got pushed off to the side when she tried to act and did not want Hopp to think she was not acting enough. He made another reference to the popping sound, telling her, “I was pushing, pushing, pushing. I hear — pop. I was like, ‘Oh, no,’” he said. Jalili put her head in her hands and said, “This is going to turn into something.”

(Copyright (c) 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)