Ex-cop gets 5 years for brutal arrest of woman with dementia

DENVER (AP) — A former Colorado police officer shown on body camera video roughly arresting a 73-year-old woman with dementia and later seen joking about it with co-workers was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison.

Austin Hopp arrested Karen Garner in 2020 after she left a store without paying for about $14 worth of items in Loveland, about 80 miles north of Denver. Police body camera video shows that after she turned away from him, he grabbed her arm and pushed her to the ground, still holding the wildflowers she had picked then she was crossing a field.

Hopp had faced probation of up to eight years behind bars after pleading guilty to second-degree assault in March under a deal with prosecutors that Garner’s family had opposed. He had faced a mandatory prison sentence of between 10 and 32 years under a more serious original assault charge.

Footage shows that when Hopp pushed Garner against the hood of her car, she tried to turn around and repeated that she was trying to get home. He then pushed her back against the car and moved his bent left arm close to her head, holding it, saying, “Are you done?” Have you finished? We don’t play this game.

A federal lawsuit Garner filed claimed he had dislocated his shoulder. The city settled the lawsuit for $3 million, a sum that her family says will pay for the 24-hour care she needed after her condition deteriorated following her arrest.

Police station surveillance video released by Garner’s attorney showed Hopp and others talking and sometimes laughing or joking about the arrest as they watched body camera footage with Garner in a cell detention nearby. At one point, Hopp told the others to listen for the “pop” during the part of the sequence where Garner’s shoulder was allegedly dislocated.

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