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'Abysmal failure': Former Loveland police officer sentenced to 45 days in jail, probation in Karen Garner case

Posted at 10:34 AM, Aug 05, 2022

LOVELAND, Colo. — Former Loveland police Officer Daria Jalali, who pleaded guilty for failing to intervene in the violent arrest of a 73-year-old woman with dementia, was sentenced Friday to 45 days in jail, three years of probation, and community service.

Larimer County Judge Joshua Lehman called Jalali’s failure to intervene during the arrest of Karen Garner on June 26, 2020, as well as refusing to get her medical attention for injuries that occurred during the arrest, an “abysmal failure.”

“It is so clear that this is a lost woman who doesn’t know what’s happening, who is afraid and frightened. She just sounds out of it and terrified to me, and the fact that two law enforcement officers couldn’t comprehend that is incomprehensible to me,” Lehman said during the sentencing. “I don’t get it when you’re crowing over this arrest, I can’t comprehend how anybody would be proud and excited about this arrest.”

He sentenced Jalali, 28, to 45 days in jail immediately, with credit for two days served, three years of probation and 250 hours of community service. She'll be allowed to transfer her probation to Jefferson County to serve out the remainder of her sentence. Jalali will also be required to undergo a mental health evaluation and she is not allowed to have contact with the Garner family.

“You made a very horrible and tragic choice," Lehman said. "You need to learn from it and you need to be punished.”

Garner's daughter, son and daughter-in-law all spoke during the sentencing, saying Jalali failed to "protect and serve," and asked the judge to hand down the harshest sentence.

"I don’t believe there’s any remorse," said Alissa Swartz, Garner’s daughter.

Swartz brought up the surveillance video from inside the jail that shows the officers fist-bumping and laughing while watching the body camera video that captured the arrest. Garner's son, John Steward, said Jalali "had every opportunity to stop the cruelty." He said Garner no longer recognizes her kids, doesn't trust anyone and has developed post traumatic stress disorder from the arrest. He said he felt jail time would be the only way for Jalali to reflect on her actions and that he hopes she feels a sense of "shame" and "remorse" for not intervening.

Jalali's attorney, Anna Geigle, asked the judge to only sentence her to probation because she has no criminal history and that her inaction was not "intentional" or "sinister." Geigle also pointed to Jalali's personnel files, claiming that she repeatedly had poor performance in written and physical tests and that the Loveland Police Department continued to allow her to move forward anyway, saying Jalali was getting "affirmations from superiors."

A neuropsychological evaluation indicated Jalali had a “profound naivety" and did not perform well in the initial uptake of visual information, according to Geigle.

Jalali also spoke during the sentencing, apologizing to Garner and her family and saying she asked Garner multiple times if she needed medical attention, but Garner failed to respond. She also said she didn't recognize the signs of dementia and considered that Garner might be under the influence of a substance. She said she did not hear Garner's shoulder pop and could not see serious visible injuries. Jalali also said she wished she would have called for medical assistance.

“I wanted to be a good police officer, and my heart was in the right place, but I came up short,” Jalali said.

Former Loveland police officer sentenced to 45 days in jail, probation in Karen Garner case

Jalali was originally charged with two other misdemeanors — failure to report use of force by a peace officer and first-degree official misconduct, but those charges were dismissed as part of her plea agreement.

She and now-former Officer Austin Hopp were charged following an investigation by the 8th Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team into their actions while arresting Garner last year, breaking her arm and dislocating her shoulder in the process, and into the subsequent reporting of the use of force per department policy.

Hopp was sentenced in May to five years in prison plus three years of parole following his plea agreement.

Loveland Police Department Interim Police Chief Eric Stewart issued the following statement regarding the sentencing:

“The Loveland Police Department appreciates the diligence and professionalism of the District Attorney’s office in the pursuit of justice and due process in this case. As in the prior sentencing of former officer Austin Hopp, this verdict does not change Ms. Garner’s wrongful and illegal treatment or the pain she and her family have experienced. I do hope this brings the next level of closure for Ms. Garner and her family.”

Stewart did not address the defense's statements about Jalali's performance at work.

In September 2021, the City of Loveland and Garner agreed to settle her claim against the city for $3 million.

"It's been very stressful over the last few years," Steward said. "So we're just glad that we're at this point finally."

This is a developing story and will be updated.