LOVELAND, Colo. — One of the Loveland officers involved in the violent arrest of an elderly woman in 2020 has taken a plea deal in the case.
During a court appearance Wednesday morning, former Loveland police officer Austin Hopp pleaded guilty to one count of felony assault for the June 26, 2020 arrest of 75-year-old Karen Garner.
Hopp was originally charged with second-degree assault causing serious bodily injury, attempting to influence a public servant and first-degree official misconduct.
The arrest came to light when Garner’s family filed a federal lawsuit in April 2021. Garner, who has dementia, was arrested after a shoplifting incident where she was suspected of leaving a Loveland Walmart without paying for $13.88 worth of items, a common practice among those with dementia, according to the lawsuit.
When Hopp and former officer Daria Jalali, who has also been charged, pulled up to Garner as she was walking home on the side of the road, body camera video shows Hopp grabbing Garner's left arm and taking her to the ground. Additionally, the suit claimed officers refused to provide Garner medical care for her injuries, which included a broken arm and dislocated shoulder, or mental health assistance.
Video from inside the Loveland Police Department’s booking area showed the officers laughing about the arrest when watching body camera video and fist-bumping each other.
Hopp and Jalali were initially placed on administrative leave, but shortly after the lawsuit was announced, the city said the two were no longer with the department. They were arrested in May 2021.
Sgt. Phillip Metzler, the supervisor on scene during the incident, has since resigned from the department. This week, the department announced Chief Robert Ticer accepted a new job as the chief at the Prescott Police Department, though the decision does not appear to be related to the Garner case.
The Garner family has since settled the suit against the City of Loveland for $3 million.
The incident led to an independent review of the Loveland Police Department and the arrest. In January, the results of the review were released, which determined staffing shortages at the department were leading to fatigue and frustration and the data-driven approach focused on the number of arrests and citations was hurting the quality of policing.
Hopp is scheduled to be sentenced on May 5. Jalali has pleaded not guilty on charges of failure to report use of force by a peace officer, failure to intervene and first-degree official misconduct. She’s expected to be in court next on April 26.