Police officer 'dislocates shoulder' of dementia sufferer, 73, during arrest

27 April 2021, 17:47

By Kate Buck

A US police officer has been accused of dislocating the shoulder of a 73-year-old woman with dementia while arresting her, and then leaving her without medical help for six hours.

Officer Austin Hopp, of Loveland Police Department in Colorado, arrested Karen Garner in June 2020 after she allegedly left a store without paying for about $14 (£9) worth of items.

His body camera footage shows Hopp catching up to her as she walks through a field along a road.

She shrugs and turns away from him and he quickly grabs her arm and pushes her 80lb body to the ground.

She looks confused and repeatedly says: "I am going home."

The arrest, which family members say left her with a fractured arm and a dislocated shoulder, and worsened her dementia symptoms.

In footage from the station after the arrest, told fellow officers "ready for the pop?" as he showed them his body camera footage.

Officer Austin Hopp arrested Karen Garner in June 2020 after she allegedly left a store without paying for about $14 worth of items.
Officer Austin Hopp arrested Karen Garner in June 2020 after she allegedly left a store without paying for about $14 worth of items. Picture: Sarah Shielke and the Life and Liberty Law Office

The footage has been released by Ms Garner's lawyer.

The surveillance video captured in the Loveland police station shows two other officers, one male and female, watching the footage with Hopp as he makes the "pop" comment. The female officer, who helped during the arrest, says: "I hate this", and put her head in her hands.

The video then shows her pull her hat over her eyes while another male officer says: "I love it."

At the time the officers were watching the footage, Ms Garner was in a holding cell a few feet away, handcuffed to a bench.

The federal lawsuit filed on her behalf earlier this month said she received no medical care for about six hours after she was taken to jail.

In footage from the station after the arrest, told fellow officers "ready for the pop?" as he showed them his body camera footage
In footage from the station after the arrest, told fellow officers "ready for the pop?" as he showed them his body camera footage. Picture: Sarah Shielke and the Life and Liberty Law Office
The video then shows her pull her hat over her eyes while another male officer says: "I love it"
The video then shows her pull her hat over her eyes while another male officer says: "I love it". Picture: Sarah Shielke and the Life and Liberty Law Office

Later in the surveillance video, Hopp and the other male officer fist bump at the part of the body camera footage where Hopp dismisses the concerns of a man passing the arrest scene who stops to object to how Hopp is treating what the man thought was a child.

After watching that part of the body cam video a second time, the second officer on the surveillance video reacts to the man who stopped at the arrest scene by saying: "What are you doing? Get out of here. This is none of your business."

On the police station video, Hopp says he is a little worried that Ms Garner is "like senile and stuff".

Police put Hopp on leave after the lawsuit was filed and announced they would conduct an internal investigation. The arrest is also being investigated by the District Attorney's office and the city.

Loveland police declined to comment on the new video footage from the police station, citing the criminal investigation being conducted at the district attorney's request.

The lawyer representing Ms Garner and her family, Sarah Schielke, said the latest video footage needed to be released to force the department to change.

"If I didn't release this, the Loveland Police's toxic culture of arrogance and entitlement, along with their horrific abuse of the vulnerable and powerless, would carry on, business as usual. I won't be a part of that," she said.