Woman With Dementia Roughly Arrested for $14 Theft Awarded $3 Million

A 73-year-old woman with dementia will be receiving $3 million from a Colorado city in a settlement after being roughly detained in 2020 by local law enforcement, officials said Wednesday.

The woman, Karen Garner, was arrested after leaving a store in Loveland without paying for around $14 in products, the Associated Press reported.

Police body camera footage showed Garner turning away from then-Officer Austin Hopp during the arrest. He then grabbed Garner's arm and forced her to the ground.

When Hopp pushed Garner's handcuffed left arm forward onto the hood of a patrol car, her shoulder was dislocated, according to a federal lawsuit filed by Garner.

At multiple points during the encounter, Garner told Hopp that "I'm not doing anything." Garner's lawyer, Sarah Schielke, who posted the police footage on YouTube, wrote in the video's caption that her client also has sensory aphasia, "which impairs her ability to verbally communicate and understand others' communications."

While announcing the $3 million settlement, which Schielke confirmed, City Manager Steve Adams issued an apology to Garner and her family.

"The settlement with Karen Garner will help bring some closure to an unfortunate event in our community but does not upend the work we have left to do," Adams said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Colorado Walmart
A 73-year-old woman with dementia will be receiving $3 million from a Colorado city in a settlement after being roughly detained in 2020 by local law enforcement, officials said Wednesday. In this photo, police investigate the scene of a shooting at a Walmart store in the Thorton Town Center shopping plaza on November 1, 2017 in Thornton, Colorado. Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

Garner's lawyer and her family plan to hold a press conference Wednesday to talk about the settlement.

Hopp has been charged with second-degree assault in the arrest. At a court hearing last month to weigh the evidence against him, his lawyer, Jonathan Datz, argued that Hopp's supervisors determined his actions to be acceptable, the Loveland Reporter-Herald reported.

A representative from Datz's office said Wednesday that he declined to comment.

The body camera footage shows that when Hopp has Garner pushed against the hood of his car, she tried to turn around and repeated that she was trying to go home. He then pushed her back against the car and moved her bent left arm up near her head, holding it, saying, "Are you finished? Are you finished? We don't play this game."

Investigators found that Hopp filed reports to mislead his superiors and protect himself, according to his arrest affidavit. He did not mention Garner's shoulder injury in an initial report.

In a report filed after being told that she was going to the hospital, he wrote that Garner was asked several times if she wanted medical attention but that she did not answer, according to the affidavit.

Boulder, CO, Police
A 73-year-old woman with dementia will be receiving $3 million from a Colorado city in a settlement after being roughly detained in 2020 by local law enforcement, officials said Wednesday. In this photo, two police officers embrace after a gunman opened fire at a King Soopers grocery store on March 22, 2021 in Boulder, Colorado. Chet Strange/Getty Images