Second former Loveland officer gets jail time for arrest of older woman with dementia

In this still image captured from police body-worn camera video posted to YouTube by 9News, 73-year-old Karen Garner can be seen being restrained on the ground by Loveland Police officers.

Another former Loveland police officer will spend time behind bars for her role in the violent arrest of a 73-year-old woman with dementia

Daria Jalali was sentenced to 45 days in jail by a Larimer County judge on Friday after pleading guilty to failing to intervene in the use of excessive force in June. She will serve an additional three years of parole following her release. The sentencing is the latest development in the legal saga stemming from the 2020 arrest of Karen Garner, which was captured on body-worn camera and widely circulated online. 

“(Jalali) made poor choices that day and had numerous opportunities to stop this and do the right thing,” said John Steward, Garner’s son, during Friday’s sentencing hearing. “I believe this will give her the time to reflect on her actions and how her actions affected my mom and her wellbeing.”

Jalali helped another Loveland officer, Austin Hopp, restrain Garner as the 73-year-old walked home from a local Walmart. Employees at the store had reported her for taking several small items without paying, including a tshirt, candy and a Pepsi. 

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 a holding cell as Garner 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

During Friday’s sentencing hearing, attorneys for Garner’s family replayed video footage of Jalali assisting in her arrest. Family members grew emotional as they testified about the lasting impacts of the arrest on Garner. 

“My mom changed that day,” Steward, her son, said. “She has, since that time, developed PTSD. The trauma, in my opinion, made her (dementia) progress even faster.”

Attorneys for Jalali argued that, for years, she received improper training from superiors at the Loveland Police Department. Jalali failed multiple tests throughout her employment, including ones for defensive control techniques that officers learn for both their safety and the safety of others during arrests.

“She was given passes and she was pressed forward repeatedly by this department when she was falling below really where she should have been with the standards,” said Anna Geigle, her attorney. 

Jalali also apologized to Garner and her family during Friday’s sentencing. In her testimony, she told the judge that she was unaware the 73-year-old was suffering from dementia when she arrived at the scene mid-arrest.

“I should have confronted officer Hopp about it immediately to ask what was going on to cause her the apparent pain and distress,” Jalali said. 

Once Garner was in a police vehicle, Jalali began asking her for identification and whether she needed medical assistance, she recalled.

“But (Garner) did not respond to me,” Jalali said. “I kept asking, but I did not know that her lack of response was for any reason other than being uncooperative.” 

Judge Joshua Lehman, in response to Jalali’s testimony, acknowledged the complexities of the situation, but said it was “incomprehensible” that she and Hopp didn't recognize Garner’s fragile mental and physical state and stop the arrest. 

“The video really does make your stomach clench,” Lehman said. “This was an abysmal failure of your duty to protect and serve.” 

As a part of her sentencing, Jalali will perform 250 hours of community service. She will also be banned from pursuing future employment in law enforcement in any state.

Sarah Schielke, the attorney representing Garner’s family, said that the case is an example of a broader problem in police departments across the country.

“The rest of the cops in our communities turning a blind eye to their own fellow officers’ misconduct better learn something from this,” she said. “Because if they don’t, I’ll be coming for them next.”