73-Year-Old Colorado Woman With Dementia Brutally Arrested

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By Quentin Choy

April 27, 2021

Karen Garner, a 73-year-old woman suffering from dementia was arrested in June 2020 in Loveland, Colorado. She was reported for allegedly removing her card without the transaction going through at a Walmart.

Recently released police footage shows the brutal arrest of an elderly woman, showing the arrest that led to a dislocated shoulder, broken arm, and a sprained wrist. Garner’s family says that Karen Garner is not the same person that she was before the arrest, saying that while “she always saw that life was happy,” she disappeared. “That was Karen, those first eight seconds, then she was gone,” said her daughter-in-law Shannon.

The Mayor of Loveland, Jacki Marsh commented on Garner’s arrest, saying “we’re seeing these things at the same time as the public is, they’re coming out on Facebook. You know, the first video was horrific to watch. I instantly thought of my mother, you know, in her later years with dementia.”

In body cam footage released, the police officers involved with Garner’s arrest showed audible comments teasing Garner and the brutality of her arrest. The officers were also seen in police station surveillance video rewatching the body cam footage and fist-bumping in what they called an arrest that “went great.”

One officer also said “Ready for that pop? Hear that pop?” preparing to hear Garner’s shoulder dislocate.

“I was super excited. I was like, ‘All right, let’s wrestle, girl. Let’s wreck it!’ I got her on the ground and all that stuff. I got her cuffed up … threw her on the ground a couple of times. I can’t believe I threw a 73-year-old on the ground.”

Austin Hopp, Officer in Loveland Police Department who arrested Karen Garner
Body cam video of arrest of woman with dementia raises questions about  police training
Karen Garner, 73. Courtesy of Denver7.

I’m glad that the officers used body cameras so that their brutality was able to seen my normal people. Police use of body cameras is essential so that instances of police brutality like this can be thoroughly reviewed.

The troubling comments made by these police officer make it clear that police brutality is not just racial. While African-Americans are disproportionately targeted and killed by police, the poor, working-class, and those who are disabled are subject to police brutality also. Karen Garner was a white woman, who many who argue that police brutality is solely racial should be the safest population from police brutality.

I believe that Karen Garner’s brutal arrest will awaken several Americans, especially those who are white, elderly, suffer from mental disorders, or those who are working class. They will see that while Black men are murdered by police such as the killing of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin, that more than just black people are affected by police violence and police brutality.

As videos like this emerge of not just African-Americans suffering from police abuse but also the working-class, mentally impaired, and the elderly, defending the police will become even harder. I want to support the police but their continued brutality of all types of people, not just African-Americans makes it extremely difficult, and at this continued rate, I’m afraid that public trust between police and communities will only continue to diminish. Police departments must reform themselves and reassess their relationships with communities before it is too late.

Image Courtesy of ABC Chicago.

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3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. The story is inhumane and hard to believe. This is an example where police play a role of a mental health professional and caretaker, which is ridiculous. But that’s what we have done to the police; we expect them to answer any calls and crises even when they are unneeded. Think about it.
    Quintin, about the police reform, is the far deeper topic, and it’s not an easy one as it is not seen as a social issue but a political issue. The police union is powerful and has wealthy supporters. This is a long, painful road, but we can get there if we unite.
    An activist in any shape and form is influential.

    1. Tatiana, I think it’s important that you bring up how police playing a role in mental health and caretaker impacts both the police and the community. If an officer who is untrained for a task outside of his responsibility such as mental health gets something wrong, it endangers the community and damages the respect and trust of police. It would be easier if these tasks were assigned to mental health professionals or caretakers so that sad events like this would not happen again. I admire what you said about the role activists play in this political issue, and I hope we can see reform soon for the sake of the community and for the police.

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