Second Loveland police officer pleads guilty to charge stemming from Karen Garner case

Loveland Police Department
A screenshot from Loveland police officer Austin Hopp’s body camera moments before he forcefully arrested 73-year-old Karen Garner in Loveland on June 26, 2020.

A former Loveland police officer pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one of the misdemeanor charges she faced for her role in the 2020 arrest of a 73-year-old woman with dementia

Daria Jalali appeared in the 8th Judicial District Court in Fort Collins to enter her plea, which was for failing to intervene in the use of excessive force. Jalali helped another Loveland officer, Austin Hopp, restrain Karen Garner as she walked home from a local Walmart. Employees at the store had reported her for taking several small items without paying. 

As Hopp pushed Garner against the hood of his patrol car, Jalali arrived to assist him. Body camera footage shows Jalali pressing her hands on Garner to control her, yelling “quit!” as the 73-year-old struggled to free herself. 

“Stand up, we’re not going to hold you,” Jalali said after Garner fell to the ground. 

Jalali later helped carry Garner from the patrol car to her holding cell as she yelled “ow” repeatedly. 

The arrest left Garner with a dislocated shoulder, a broken arm and bruises. Garner was living independently at the time of the arrest, but now lives in a memory care facility.

Last September, the city settled a federal lawsuit brought by Garner’s family for $3 million, and in May, Hopp was sentenced to 5 years in prison. 

Other charges dismissed as part of Jalali’s plea agreement included failure to report an excessive use of force and first-degree official misconduct. In exchange, Jalali agreed to not seek employment as a peace officer in the future and to cooperate with a “non-prosecution” agreement from the United State’s Attorney’s office. 

“I don’t know whether that means jail time is still on the table,” said Sarah Schielke, the attorney representing Garner and her family. “The actual sentence will be imposed by a judge.” 

Jalali’s sentence is likely to at least include probation, according to a copy of her plea agreement. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for August. 

Since Garner’s arrest, the Loveland Police Department has come under intense scrutiny for its training practices. The city responded by launching a new trust commission to help repair relations with the community.