A former Colorado police officer has been sentenced to jail for laughing after a colleague broke the arm of a 73-year-old woman with dementia during a rough address.
Daria Jalali was sentenced on Friday to 45 days in jail and three years of probation for failing to intervene in the arrest of Karen Garner in Loveland, about 50 miles north of Denver, the Associated Press reported. She will also be required to perform 250 hours of community service and will be banned from pursuing a law enforcement career in the future.
Ms Garner, who suffers from dementia and aphasia, sustained an arm fracture, a shoulder dislocation and a sprained wrist as she was being taken into custody by former officer Austin Hopp in 2020, court records reviewed by The Independent show. Ms Garner had left a Walmart store without paying for about $14 worth of items.
Jalali had earlier pleaded guilty to charges. 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.
Hopp was sentenced in May to five years in prison for his treatment of Ms Garner, who settled a lawsuit with the city of Loveland for $3m. Her family has said her condition deteriorated after her arrest and she requires around-the-clock care as a result, the Associated Press reported.
“[She] made poor choices that day and had numerous opportunities to stop this and do the right thing,” John Steward, Ms Garner’s son, said during the sentencing hearing, CPR reported.
“I believe this will give [Jalali] the time to reflect on her actions and how her actions affected my mom and her wellbeing.”
Police body camera video released last year and shared by the Garner family attorney, Sarah Schielke, shows Ms Garner repeatedly saying that she was trying to go home during the arrest.
After Ms Garner turned away from Hopp, the footage shows him 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 tried to turn around, he moved her bent left up arm up near her head. Soon after, Ms Garner began to slump toward the ground. Jalali, who arrived after Ms Garner was handcuffed, says, “Stand up! We’re not going to hold you.”
Jalali apologized to Ms Garner and her family in court, the Loveland Reporter-Herald reported. She told Judge Joshua Lehman that she thought Garner was intoxicated and believed Ms 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.
“She was given passes and she was pressed forward repeatedly by this department when she was falling below really where she should have been with the standards,” Ms Geigle said, according to CPR.
Judge Lehman said Jalali should have known Ms 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.”
“The video really does make your stomach clench,” Judge Lehman also said. “This was an abysmal failure of your duty to protect and serve.”