Karen Garner’s family slams arrest that left elderly dementia patient with dislocated shoulder, fractured arm

'She hasn’t come back the way she was right before,' said Shannon Steward, the daughter-in-law of the 73-year-old Garner


                            Karen Garner’s family slams arrest that left elderly dementia patient with dislocated shoulder, fractured arm
Karen Garner's arm was fractured during her arrest (Twitter/Chris Vanderveen, Life and Liberty Law Office)
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LOVELAND, COLORADO: Karen Garner’s family has opened up about her arrest that forever changed her as a person. On Monday, April 26, Garner's daughter, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter described how she was when she came back home after being taken into custody back in June 2020. After returning home, Garner repetitively told her family members that she was just going home, that she had attempted to give money, and that they wouldn’t take her money.

According to reports, the 73-year-old dementia patient was arrested on June 26 last year while she was going back home from a Walmart outlet. She reportedly went to the hypermarket to buy a few things and used her card to pay. When the machine beeped, she removed her card, without realizing that the transaction had failed. Walmart employees then contacted her and subsequently, she was detained by police.

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But Garner's family has accused police of using excessive force on her which resulted in a dislocated shoulder and fractured arm. They have also filed a lawsuit against the officers of the City of Loveland Police Department who arrested the woman. Allisa Swartz, Garner’s daughter; Shannon Steward, her daughter-in-law; and Jessa Swartz, her granddaughter said that the incident has changed her.

Describing Garner’s former self, daughter Allisa Swartz said, “She was a homemaker. She was a mom. She always saw that life was happy. Life was enjoyable.” Daughter-in-law Shannon Steward said that in the six months before the arrest, the family had several conversations about Garner's dementia as it slowly impaired her mother-in-law's mental faculties.

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Garner's family was thinking of shifting her to a memory care facility, a suggestion that Garner absolutely hated. Steward stated that they consulted a family doctor, who recommended that Garner’s routine should not be disturbed as her dementia was mild at the time. Part of her routine included going to Walmart, which is around a mile away from her apartment.

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On the day of her arrest also, she went to Walmart, where she was arrested. She was subsequently moved to Larimer County Jail in Fort Collins. Her family had no idea what was going on. They thought Garner must have been at her home.

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That day, Garner did not take her phone with her, so they were unable to track her. However, later, the family got a call from a hospital in Fort Collins. The person from the hospital said Garner had suffered a fractured arm and more. Jessa Swartz, her granddaughter said she looked confused when she was being brought back home. Once she reached home, she kept asking “why did they hurt me?”

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“She just kept looking at me really confused, like she didn’t know what was going on, and she kept complaining that she was in pain and wanted to go home. Her home is her safe spot. That is where she wanted to be,” Swartz noted. Steward added, “She hasn’t come back the way she was right before.”

Later in July 2020, Garner was taken to a neurologist. The doctor told the family she has lobe dementia as well as a small brain tumor, and a month later, she was shifted to a memory care facility in Golden as the family thought she wouldn't be safe in Loveland or from its police. Steward said they filed the lawsuit because of the “level of abuse she [Garner] suffered from something so minor.”

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“Eight seconds from calling out to her with sarcastic questions, rhetorical questions, to slamming her on the ground. There was no attempt (to talk) … (and) absolutely zero rapport,” she mentioned. Shannon also said that the family is not happy with the police department’s response to the case.

Officer Austin Hopp has reportedly been put on administrative leave and the other two cops - officer Daria Jalali and Sgt. Phil Metzler - on administrative work, which Garner’s family thinks of as “a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.” “It is nothing meaningful. It is just gestures and required statements,” the daughter-in-law added.

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