Karen Garner was lying in her bed on Wednesday at the Golden, Colorado, memory care facility where she has been living since an officer brutally arrested her last year. She was tired, so she informed a caregiver that she would forego lunch.
Garner, a 74-year-old dementia patient, had no idea what was going on 45 miles away.
Garner’s family and attorney were in the midst of announcing a major development in their lawsuit against the city and five police officers outside the courthouse in Loveland, about an hour north: they had reached a $3 million settlement. The multimillion-dollar settlement agreement was announced less than five months after Sarah Schielke, the attorney representing Garner’s family, released body-camera footage of the arrest. The video sparked widespread outrage, prompting the city to launch an independent investigation.
According to the family, Schielke also released a booking cell video showing Loveland Police Department officers celebrating and mocking the arrest while Garner sat in a cell without receiving medical attention for her injuries. Following the release of the booking cell video, Colorado authorities charged two officers involved in Garner’s arrest. Both officers had previously resigned from their positions with the department. Loveland City Manager Steve Adams issued a public apology to Garner and her family for “what they have endured as a result of this arrest.”
“The settlement with Karen Garner brings some closure to an unfortunate event in our community, but it does not change the work we have left to do,” Adams said.
Garner’s daughter, Allisa Swartz, stated that the settlement funds will be used to care for her mother, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident. The settlement, once finalized, will end Garner’s pending federal lawsuit, but it does not preclude the two former officers who participated in the arrest from facing criminal charges, according to city officials.
According to the lawsuit, on June 26, 2020, a Walmart employee called police to report that Garner had walked out of the store without paying for nearly $14 worth of items. During the incident, Garner, according to the worker, removed an employee’s mask.
Garner, who weighs 80 pounds, was walking home and picking wildflowers alongside the road when an officer demanded she stop. Body-camera footage shows Garner, who has sensory aphasia, a condition that causes her to be unable to understand speech or communicate easily, appeared confused and frightened.
“I’m going home,” she pleaded, clutching the flowers, as the officer grabbed her arms and wrenched them backward to handcuff her, according to body-camera footage. Garner fell to the ground at one point as officers wrestled with her before putting her in a cruiser. Later that day, two officers sat hunched around a computer, re-watching video of the arrest before fist-bumping each other, according to the booking cell video. Later, another officer joined them in praising and mocking the arrest. “We crushed it,” said one of the officers.
Meanwhile, Garner sat handcuffed to a bench, feet away from the officers. According to the lawsuit, Garner sat inside the booking cell for hours, weeping and in pain, without receiving medical attention.
Loveland Police Chief Bob Ticer said on Wednesday that what happened to Garner was inexcusable and that the department is revising several policies to prevent similar incidents in the future. Schielke promised to donate $50,000 to a dementia charity of Ticer’s choice if he resigns within 30 days at a news conference on Wednesday.
In a message, a spokesperson for the city of Loveland told The Post that Ticer is not stepping down.
Garner, who spent two days after her arrest asking, “Why did they do this to me?” and “Why did they hurt me?” no longer discusses the incident with her family, according to Schielke. Because of Garner’s dementia and sensory aphasia, caregivers have advised the family not to discuss the traumatic event, according to Schielke. Garner has been hesitant to hug her loved ones since her arrest and has stopped going for walks, which she used to enjoy. She appears to have withdrawn from life, according to her family.
Garner had stepped out of her room “for the first time in a while” early Wednesday afternoon and attempted to interact with other residents, according to her caretaker’s daily log.