Fort Collins, CO – A former Loveland police officer who failed to intervene when a fellow officer used physical force and injured a 73-year-old woman with dementia during a shoplifting arrest in 2020 was sentenced to 45 days in jail on Aug. 5.
Jalali previously pleaded guilty to the class 1 misdemeanor charge, and was sentenced on Aug. 5 to 45 days in jail, followed by three years of probation, according to the Loveland Reporter-Herald.
She was also ordered to complete 250 hours of community service, as well as to participate in mental health services.
“It is just tragic that this even happened and it was compounded by your continuous choices that you made throughout the two hours you were with her,” 8th Judicial District Court Judge Joshua Lehman told Jalali during the hearing. “You need to recognize that.”
“That is what we need from our law enforcement, the ability to stand up to your fellow officer and say ‘no, what are you doing?’” the judge added. “This was a situation where the obligation to do that was painfully obvious.”
Jalali’s attorney, Anna Geigle, told the court that the former officer’s personnel files indicated she “was not in a position” to adequately perform her duties as a law enforcement officer due to “her psychological makeup,” the Loveland Reporter-Herald reported.
“She was given passes, she was pressed forward repeatedly by this department when she was falling below where she should have been in standards,” Geigle alleged.
She urged the court to sentence Jalali to 18 months of probation, the Loveland Reporter-Herald reported.
“The trajectory of her life has dramatically changed because of the incidents in this case,” Geigle added. “I think that speaks to the deterrent effect for the conviction of this crime.”
Larimer County Assistant District Attorney Matt Maillaro pushed the judge to sentence Jalali to 60 days in jail, followed by three to four years on probation, the Loveland Reporter-Herald reported.
“This is not the result of a mental deficit. This is not a result of a lack of training. This is the result of a choice,” Maillaro said. “What it shows you is a blanket disregard, a flagrant disregard for the welfare of someone she was required to protect and serve. The law makes it clear that sometimes there is going to be an officer that acts outside of their legal duties, and that is why we have a law that says if you do see that you have to act.”
Jalali apologized to Garner and her family before the sentence was handed down, the Loveland Reporter-Herald reported.
She explained during the hearing that she believed Garner was under the influence and just being uncooperative during her arrest and that she had no idea she had dementia.
“I wanted to be a good police officer and my heart was in the right place, but I still came up short,” Jalali said.
Garner was arrested in June of 2020 after allegedly stealing $14 worth of items from a Walmart store, according to KCNC.
She was taken to the ground during the arrest, which a subsequent lawsuit claimed left her with a sprained wrist, dislocated shoulder, and a broken humerus, KUSA reported.
Garner was transported to Loveland police headquarters and did not receive medical care for several hours, according to KCNC.
Loveland Assistant Police Chief Ray Butler reviewed the bodycam footage and images from Garner’s arrest and concluded on Aug. 10, 2020, that the officers’ use of force was “necessary, reasonable, and within policy,” KCNC reported.
Sarah Schielke, the attorney representing Garner, filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Loveland in April of 2021.
Loveland Police Chief Bob Ticer said he had not been made aware of any allegations of excessive force pertaining to Garner’s arrest prior to finding out about the lawsuit, KCNC reported.
The lawsuit also accused Loveland Police Sergeant Phil Metzler of trying to delete bodycam footage of Garner’s arrest, according to KCNC.
Schielke said records she obtained pertained to a bodycam video that was originally dated June 24, 2030.
According to the records, Sgt. Metzler deleted the 2030 date on July 16, 2020, and saved the footage as June 26, 2021, KUSA reported.
Schielke alleged the alteration was an attempt to hide the video.
LPD Officer Austin Hopp and Officer Daria Jalali resigned from the department in April of 2021, the Loveland Reporter-Herald reported.
Loveland Community Service Officer Tyler Blackett, who helped book Garner into jail, also resigned.
Hopp and Jalali were both criminally charged in the weeks that followed.
Hopp pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in March and was sentenced in May to five years in prison, the Loveland Reporter-Herald reported.
The City of Loveland reached a $3 million settlement with Garner in September of last year.
Loveland City Manager Steve Adams said he hoped the settlement, which did not include an admission of liability, would help bring Garner some closure, the Loveland Reporter-Herald reported.
“The settlement with Karen Garner will help bring some closure to an unfortunate event in our community but does not upend the work we have left to do,” Adams told KUSA. “We extend a deep and heartfelt apology to Karen Garner and her family for what they have endured as a result of this arrest.”
“We know we did not act in a manner that upholds the values, integrity, and policies of the City and police department, and we are taking the necessary steps to make sure these actions are never repeated,” he added.
Chief Ticer said he agreed that the officers used excessive force during Garner’s arrest.
“There is no excuse, under any circumstances, for what happened to Ms. Garner,” he told KUSA. “We have agreed on steps we need to take to begin building back trust. While these actions won’t change what Ms. Garner experienced, they will serve to improve this police department and hopefully restore faith that the LPD exists to serve those who live in and visit Loveland.”
The Loveland Police Department (LPD) has adopted many changes in light of the incident, to include an updated use-of-force review process, expanding the department’s mental health co-responder program, and establishing outreach programs for residents to communicate with command staff more easily, KUSA reported.