A grandmother with dementia is suing police in Colorado after they tackled her to the ground as she picked flowers, traumatizing her and leaving her with broken bones. Karen Garner, 73, was forced to the ground by Loveland Police Officer Austin Hopp, after he followed her because she was accused of shoplifting from a local Walmart. This whole situation is extremely tragic and was entirely unavoidable.
- Karen suffers from dementia and sensory aphasia. According to her family, the woman walked out of the Walmart store when they weren’t looking, and she took with her a bottle of Pepsi, a t-shirt, and some wipes. While it’s true that the items hadn’t been paid for, Karen didn’t intentionally steal them and her family happily would have paid for the items had they known.
- Bodycam footage shows the entire incident. In the video, Officer Hopp goes over to Karen and pushes her violently to the ground and twisted her arms behind her back and pulled her left one “painfully upward” even though she showed no signs of resisting. “You just left Walmart. Do you need to be arrested right now?” Hopp said to her before pouncing on her. In addition, her health condition means she doesn’t understand written and spoken speech, so chances are she was incredibly scared.
- She was left with a lot of physical and emotional trauma. According to a lawsuit filed on her behalf, Karen was left with a fractured humerus bone, a sprained wrist, and a dislocated shoulder as well as lot of scrapes and bruises. Her family decided to take legal action so other people don’t experience this same thing.
- This use of force was entirely unnecessary. “This is not a ‘single bad apple’ type of scenario. This is a systemic, cultural, deeply ingrained, coming-down-from-leadership type of attitude, where this is not community policing – it’s community terrorism, practically,” her attorney, Sarah Schielke, told VICE. “If somebody’s silly enough, in their mind, to not capitulate, they’re going to pay for it. Even if you’re an older disabled lady.”