FORT COLLINS — A former Colorado police officer who did not stop another officer from being rough with a 73-year-old woman with dementia was sentenced Friday to 45 days in jail and three years of probation.
Daria Jalali earlier pleaded guilty in the arrest of Karen Garner in Loveland, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Denver, in 2020. She had faced up to 60 days in jail for failing to intervene, a crime created by lawmakers as part of a police reform bill passed during protests over racial injustice and police brutality in 2020.
Former officer Austin Hopp arrested Garner after she left a store without paying for about $14 worth of items. Police body camera video released last year shows Garner repeatedly saying that she was trying to go home.
After Garner turns away from him, the footage shows Hopp grabbing her arm and pushing her to the ground and handcuffing her. Later, he pushed her against the hood of his car and, after she tries to turn around, he moves her bent left up arm up near her head. Soon after, Garner began to slump toward the ground. Jalali, who arrived after Garner was handcuffed, says, “Stand up! We’re not going to hold you.”
Hopp was sentenced in May to five years in prison for his treatment of Garner. Loveland settled a lawsuit filed by Garner for $3 million. Her family has said her condition deteriorated after her arrest and she requires around-the-clock care as a result.
Jalali apologized to Garner and her family in court, the Loveland Reporter-Herald reported. She told Judge Joshua Lehman that she thought Garner was intoxicated and believed Garner was only complaining about her handcuffs so she could get out of them.
“I wanted to be a good police officer and my heart was in the right place, but I still came up short,” she said.
Jalali’s lawyer, Anna Geigle, said Loveland police and another department let her stay on the job despite a pattern of poor performance recorded in her personnel files. A neuropsychological evaluation showed Jalali did not have the “psychological makeup” to act with the precision and awareness expected of police officers, she said.
Lehman said Jalali should have known Garner was a “delicate” woman suffering from a mental health issue.
“She just sounds out of it and terrified to me,” he said after watching body camera footage from the arrest for the first time in court. “The fact that two law enforcement officers couldn’t comprehend that is incomprehensible to me.”
Garner’s son, John Steward, told the judge Jalali had no idea of the stress, pain and sadness the arrest has caused his family.
“We all have choices to make in life, and all our choices have consequences,” he said. “I ask that justice be served for my mom today.”