Loveland, CO — Because police officers have a tendency of attacking and abusing those with mental disabilities, including the elderly, the Alzheimer's Association of America puts out a guide, specifically designed for law enforcement on how to deal with people suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia.
According to the guide, those suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia have an impairment that "can hinder the ability to remember to pay for items. People with dementia may walk out of stores without paying, unaware of any wrongdoing. Confronting the person is not recommended. Instead, ease the person out of the situation, and try to resolve the matter with the store manager and caregiver."
Frail, non-violent elderly women with dementia would likely be the easiest folks to deal with in these situations and it would be very easy to follow the above recommendations to the letter. But if you are a Loveland police officer, frail, elderly women with dementia are seen as dangerous threats and they are treated like violent mass murderers instead.
On June 26, 2020, Karen Garner, 73, walked from her home to the local Walmart two blocks away to get some supplies. Everything that happened after this trip to Walmart is now the subject of an excessive force lawsuit against the Loveland Police Department because they have no idea how to treat elderly women with dementia.
Like those with dementia often do, Garner simply grabbed her items in Walmart that day and walked out. She was quickly confronted by store security who then guided her back into the store for accidentally failing to pay for $13.88 worth of items.
After being escorted back into the building, Garner realized her mistake and tried to pay for the items but the store called police anyway. By the time police arrived, Garner had left the store and was walking home. She had left the items back at the store and no crime had been committed.
When police arrived, the interaction was captured on body camera footage.
Officer Austin Hopp said, "Alright let's stop ma'am. I don't think you want to play it this way. Ma'am, police. Stop," as he exited his patrol car.
Clearly illustrating her dementia, when Garner tries to respond to the officer, she simply mumbles.
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But officer Hopp couldn't have cared less that this was an elderly woman suffering from dementia, who by this time, had committed no crime. He just knew he had to escalate force.
After just two minutes, this "hero" cop tackles the frail elderly woman with dementia to the ground and puts her in handcuffs.
According to the lawsuit, when a second cop, officer Daria Jalali arrived, she "put her own hands on Ms. Garner to hold her while Officer Hopp continued pushing painfully upward on Ms. Garner’s already-restrained left arm and while also violently touching her all over her body."
Illustrating how confused and scared Garner was, the entire time, she kept telling the officers, "I'm going home."
"It makes you very worried about vulnerable people in the community with a police force like that," civil rights attorney Sarah Schielke, of The Life & Liberty Law Office, who is representing Garner said. "The behavior is indefensible they knew they were being recorded and yet they did it anyway, we have to ask, 'why?'"
In the video, we can hear the cops talking about Garner bleeding and then plotting all the charges against her. Every single one of the contrived charges had to do with cops escalating force against an innocent woman with dementia.
The cops were so rough with Garner they left her bloody and with broken bones. Despite her clearly visible injuries, according to the lawsuit, police brought her to jail and then denied her care. Instead of tending to her injuries, police left her chained to a cell for hours.
"The officers handcuffed her to a cell at the station for over 2 hours, keeping her isolated and terrified, in extreme pain, and then deposited her at the Larimer County jail where they lied and said she was uninjured, which ensured she continued to not receive medical treatment for another 3 hours,” the law office wrote in a press release.