KEY POINTS

  • Karen Garner was arrested on June 26, 2020
  • She was accused of stealing about $14 worth of items after she forgot to pay for them
  • Colorado city agreed to pay Garner $3 million to settle a lawsuit

A former police officer in Colorado has been sentenced for injuring a 73-year-old woman with dementia, breaking her arm and dislocating her shoulder during a violent arrest in 2020.

Austin Hopp, an ex-officer with Loveland Police Department, was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree assault in connection with the arrest of the elderly victim, Karen Garner, on June 26, 2020, NBC News reported.

Garner, who had dementia and sensory aphasia, was accused of stealing about $14 worth of items from a Walmart store after she forgot to pay for the items due to her condition, the woman's lawyer said. While responding to a report of the petty theft at the store, Hopp grabbed Garner by her hand and forcefully pushed her to the ground. He then hogtied her ankles and asked a second officer, Daria Jalali, to help him take her to the back of the police car.

Bodycam footage later showed Hopp and other officers at the police station joking and laughing about the arrest, while Garner, who suffered injuries, including a dislocated shoulder, a fractured arm and a sprained wrist, was forced to sit in a holding cell without medical attention for hours.

Hopp left the department in April 2021. Jalil, who also later resigned from the department, was charged with official misconduct and failing to stop or report Hopp's actions. Colorado city agreed to pay Garner $3 million while settling a lawsuit last September.

During the sentencing, Hopp admitted that he misjudged the situation and had responded wrongly. "I made a terrible mistake that day, a horrible one," Hopp told the court, reported The Denver Post.

However, State District Judge Michelle Brinegar said it was not about a "mistake." Hopp used his"position of power and authority to show off his toughness, disregard any sense of humanity, displayed an alarming degree of criminal thinking and caused a great deal of harm and trauma," Brinegar said. "I do think you are sorry, but I don't think you get it." 

Hopp was also sentenced to three years of mandatory parole.

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