DENVER -- An ex-cop in Colorado was shown on video roughly arresting an elderly woman with dementia. Later, he was seen laughing about the incident with colleagues.
Austin Hopp could spend up to eight years prison for second degree assault. However, the judge has the option to give him probation or a halfway home. Under the original, more serious charge of assault, he had been sentenced to a mandatory term of 10 to 32 years in prison.
Karen Garner was arrested by Hopp in 2020 after she fled a Loveland store where she had left $14 worth of goods. She lived about 50 miles north Denver. The body camera video of the police shows that she turned away from him and he grabbed her arm, pushing her to the ground with wildflowers still in her hands, as she walked through the field.
This footage shows that Hopp had Garner push against the car's hood. She tried to turn her head and said that she wanted to go home. He then pulled her back against his car, and bent her left arm near her head, asking, "Are your done?" Are you finished? This is not a game.
Garner was accused of dislocating her shoulder in a federal lawsuit. The lawsuit was settled by the city for $3 million. Her family stated that the money will be used to pay for her around-the-clock medical care after her condition worsened.
Garner's daughter in law Shannon Steward spoke on behalf Garner's extended families to Judge Michelle Brinegar. She said that Garner's family never desired a plea deal. These are used when there is no evidence or inability to prove the case.
She pointed out that the entire arrest and aftermath were captured on video. This included surveillance video from the police station in which Hopp and other witnesses talk about the arrest while they look at the body camera footage. Sometimes, they laugh or joke about it. She said that Hopp had told others to look for the "pop" in the footage where Garner's shoulder was allegedly displaced.
Matthew Maillaro, Assistant District Attorney, stated that the plea deal did not have to do with whether or not prosecutors were able to prove their case. It was a result of multiple factors including whether or not there should be a mandatory sentence in prison and whether or not the court should decide on the sentence.
He said, "This isn't sweeping it under the carpet."
Brinegar stated that pleas can be made in most cases and she accepted Hopp’s.
Hopp was also charged with trying to influence a public official, a felony and official misconduct (a misdemeanor). These charges were not part of the plea agreement.
Hopp was also helped by another officer, who was arrested after Garner was taken into custody. He was charged with failing stop Garner's actions or reporting them to the police and official misconduct. Daria Jalali's lawyer said Tuesday to a judge that she was in talks with prosecutors about a possible solution to her case.