Loveland, Colo., to Pay $3 Million to Woman With Dementia Who Was Arrested
The settlement comes more than a year after Karen Garner, then 73, was grabbed by a police officer and flung to the ground for allegedly shoplifting from a Walmart.,
A city in Colorado will pay a $3 million settlement to a 74-year-old woman with dementia whom police officers threw to the ground last year and handcuffed after she was suspected of shoplifting.
Officials in the city of Loveland agreed to the settlement in connection with a lawsuit filed on behalf of the woman, Karen Garner, in April in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado against the city and the officers who arrested her, according to Ms. Garner’s lawyer, Sarah Schielke, and the officials in Loveland.
In police body camera footage of the episode that Ms. Garner’s lawyer released this spring, an officer grabbed Ms. Garner and flung her to the ground while she was walking home from a nearby Walmart, where employees had called the police because they said she walked out without paying for $13.88 worth of items.
Ms. Schielke said that Ms. Garner, who has dementia and sensory aphasia, which impairs her ability to understand and communicate, forgot to pay for the items. Ms. Schielke said that the officers who arrested Ms. Garner broke a bone in her arm and dislocated her shoulder, and that she was not given medical attention for six hours.
In a statement from the city, Steve Adams, the city manager of Loveland, about 45 miles north of Denver, apologized to Ms. Garner and her family, adding that officials were taking “the necessary steps” to ensure that a similar episode would not happen again.
“The settlement with Karen Garner will help bring some closure to an unfortunate event in our community but does not upend the work we have left to do,” he said.
Both Ms. Garner’s lawsuit, which claims violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the release of the police body camera footage in April reverberated through the city, prompting multiple investigations, disciplinary action against the officers and scrutiny of the Police Department’s use-of-force and training protocols.
The two officers who arrested Ms. Garner, along with a community service officer who booked her and allegedly denied her medical care, resigned in April. Two of the officers now face criminal charges: Austin Hopp was charged with assaulting Ms. Garner, and Daria Jalali was charged with not intervening in a case of excessive force or reporting it, prosecutors in Colorado said in May.
Another video, also released by Ms. Garner’s lawyer this spring, showed officers laughing at footage of Ms. Garner’s arrest. “I love it,” one officer says. “This is great.”
“There is no excuse, under any circumstances, for what happened to Ms. Garner,” the Loveland police chief, Bob Ticer, said in the statement.
Ms. Schielke said in a news briefing on Wednesday that if Chief Ticer resigned within the next month, she would donate $50,000 to an Alzheimer’s or dementia charity of his choice.
Ms. Garner’s daughter Allisa Swartz said at the news briefing that part of the $3 million settlement would fund her mother’s round-the-clock dementia care.
“This is justice for mom,” Ms. Swartz said.
Because of Ms. Garner’s health status, Ms. Schielke said, she cannot receive the settlement until a probate court approves it and appoints a conservator.