Karen Garner is set to receive a $3 million settlement from a Colorado city after she was brutally arrested last year following an accidental petty theft. The 73-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s was grossly mistreated by law enforcement officers after she reportedly stole less than $14 worth of items in Loveland, CO.
Police bodycam footage showed Garner being shoved to the ground and manhandled while she screamed in pain. A lawsuit was filed against the officer and the city of Loveland accused the cop of dislocating the woman’s shoulder during the arrest after he shoved her handcuffed left arm onto the hood of a patrol car.
The $3 million settlement was announced Wednesday morning. Sarah Schielke, who represented Karen Garner in the case, confirmed the agreement. City Manager Steve Adams apologized for the violent actions of Loveland police officers, claiming in the settlement announcement that it “will help bring some closure to an unfortunate event in our community,” though he admitted that it “does not upend the work we have left to do.”
In his statement, Adams said that “we extend a deep and heartfelt apology to Karen Garner and her family for what they have endured as a result of this arrest. we know we did not act in a manner that upholds the values, integrity, and policies of the city and police department, and we are taking the necessary steps to make sure these actions are never repeated.”
The officer who arrested Karen Garner, Austin Hopp, was relieved of his duties and charged with second-degree assault. Investigators also found that the then-officer filed misleading reports in an attempt to protect himself. He neglected to mention the shoulder injury he reportedly inflicted.
News broke Tuesday that a sergeant, lieutenant, and the assistant chief of police at the department signed off on the force Hopp used against Karen Garner. It was reported that all three of those supervisors still work at the police department. In a statement Tuesday, Garner’s lawyer called for them to resign.
Sarah Schielke said in her statement that “he presided over all of this, which we see includes not just the criminally charged Hopp’s behavior, but all of Hopp’s supervisors up the chain of command seeing the recorded assault and approving of it.”
She continued, explaining that Garner’s family decided to take the $3 million settlement because the 73-year-old’s health is “declining.” Schielke continued, saying it isn’t “full justice,” for what was done to Garner. She claimed leadership in the Loveland police department needs to change to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
She explained that “those in power in Loveland have created a culture of police officers who have no respect, no care, no compassion for the people they’re supposed to be keeping safe. [Garner] was 73. She had dementia. She was one of the most vulnerable members of our community. And she was carrying wildflowers.”
Schielke added that “thirteen dollars and 88 cents is the business interest that Loveland believed was worth inflicting this atrocity. Today, they pay Ms. Garner $3 million. The amount of this settlement is likely record-breaking for a civil rights case that doesn’t involve death or permanent disfigurement. Not only does its amount send a powerful message, but the speed in which it was obtained does as well — just four months since we filed the lawsuit.”
The lawyer claimed that one of the biggest reasons the family decided to settle was a letter they found that Karen Garner had written as her dementia first begun to affect her. Within the letter, Garner wrote that “All I’ve wanted all my life was someone to love, adore and care about me. I find the world scary now, being alone. So value love as a treasured gift that is all that matters.”
It continued, saying that “I want the best and fullest lives possible for my children and grandchildren. I feel the world is getting crueler. Don’t make it any rougher for yourselves by living in the past. Look out the front window. Don’t dwell on what’s in the rearview mirror.”
In a statement from the Loveland Police Chief Bob Ticer, the chief said that there was no excuse for what happened to Karen Garner. He said that the department has “agreed on steps we need to take to begin building back trust. While these actions won’t change what Ms. Garner experienced, they will serve to improve this police department and hopefully restore faith that the LPD exists to serve those who live in and visit Loveland.”
During her press conference, Sarah Schielke claimed that “this incident shocked us by exposing us to the lowest form of human behavior and decency, particularity by people that should be respected, people that should know how to show respect,” she said. “Conversely, this family was also overwhelmed by the support and love of people in the City of Loveland as well as around the world. It was overwhelming and got us through some of the darkest times and for that, we say thank you.”