DA Makes Move in Violent Arrest of Woman, 73, With Dementia

Calls for criminal probe in case of Karen Garner
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2021 4:03 AM CDT
DA Makes Move in Violent Arrest of Woman, 73, With Dementia
In this undated photo provided by Allisa Swartz, is Karen Garner, who is suing Loveland, Colorado and three of its police officers over her arrest in June 2020.   (Allisa Swartz via AP)

A county district attorney on Monday called for a criminal investigation into the arrest last year of Karen Garner, a 73-year-old woman from Loveland, Colo., with dementia that has sparked headlines recently with the release of bodycam footage and Garner's own lawsuit against the city and its cops. "Involved and investigating agencies have agreed that an independent criminal review is appropriate, and an investigation of the incident will occur," Gordon P. McLaughlin said, per CBS News. Garner's family called the move a "small, but long overdue, step in the right direction," the New York Times reports. Garner, who allegedly left Walmart without paying for $13.88 worth of items, appeared confused as she was arrested while picking wildflowers on her walk home; her arm was broken and a shoulder dislocated after the officer twisted her arm behind her back while pressing her against his car. Her family says she has little functional use of her arm to this day.

Her family says she was then taken to jail for six hours and given no medical help; she also had bruises all over her 80-pound body, they say. The charges against her were dropped by McLaughlin's predecessor, who cited her dementia; her family says she also suffers from disorientation and sensory aphasia, which causes her to have difficulty understanding speech and communicating. Walmart employees had already taken the items from her, and refused her offer to pay for them, according to the lawsuit, before calling police, which they say they did because she "forcibly removed" an employee's mask, the Washington Post reports. Separately, the city of Loveland said that after the DA's investigation is finished, it will separately investigate whether officers followed policy. The Loveland PD also promised to review the arrest. The arresting officer is on administrative leave and the assisting officer and their supervisor are both on desk duty. (Read more Colorado stories.)

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