Woman with dementia arrested after forgetting to pay for merchandise sues Loveland police officers

Body camera footage shows the officer grabbing Garner and forcibly pushing her to the ground...
Body camera footage shows the officer grabbing Garner and forcibly pushing her to the ground after the 73-year-old failed to stop for him. The woman can be heard repeating that she was trying to go home as she is handcuffed.(The Life & Liberty Law Office)
Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 12:33 PM MDT|Updated: Apr. 15, 2021 at 2:04 PM MDT
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LOVELAND, Colo. (KKTV) - A dementia patient injured during an encounter with law enforcement last year is suing the city of Loveland and members of its police department.

According to a complaint filed on behalf of Karen Garner and obtained by 11 News, the 73-year-old had left a Walmart without paying for about $14 of merchandise and was showing clear signs of dementia when officers forcibly detained her in June 2020. Garner suffers from dementia and sensory aphasia.

The complaint says Garner forgot to pay for a soda, candy bar, and a few other items and was stopped by workers on her way out.

“Walmart employees stopped her and escorted her back inside, where they took the items back. Ms. Garner attempted to hand them her credit card to pay but they refused. Ms. Garner, unable to communicate with them or fully grasp what was going on, then walked out of the store and began walking the short distance back to her home.” - Excerpt from complaint

Walmart reportedly called police after Garner left. The complaint claims that police were informed that Garner was elderly, small and petite (she reportedly weighs 80 pounds and is 5 feet tall), and that the items had already been returned. The first officer to respond found Garner a few blocks from the store.

“[The officer] activated his overhead lights while driving behind her, and quietly waited for Ms. Garner to notice and stop for him. She did not notice him, however, and instead continued walking along. He continued driving along behind her at about 2 mph, flashing his overhead lights and waiting for her to stop, which she continued to not appear to notice or understand.” - Excerpt from complaint

Body camera footage obtained by 11 News shows the officer then getting out of the car and approaching Garner. The following can be audibly heard on the body cam video:

Officer: “You don’t want to stop with lights on, sirens? Stop.”

Garner: Shrugs and mumbles something unintelligible

Officer: “You just left Walmart ... Do you need to be arrested right now?”

At this point, Garner turns her back to the officer and starts to walk away. The body camera then shows the officer grabbing one of Garner’s arms, pulling it behind her back, and pushing her to the ground as the woman repeatedly says “I’m going home, I’m going home, I’m going home.”

The complaint says Garner suffered several injuries in the encounter, including a bloody nose, scrapes to her face, knee contusions and a shoulder dislocation.

Police in Loveland had no immediate comment.

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