November 29, 2021

Body camera footage shows Loveland Sergeant dismiss concerns of witness to Karen Garner’s arrest

The attorney for Karen Garner also accused the sergeant of attempting to hide the footage by moving up the deletion date.

LOVELAND, Colo. — Body camera footage shows a Loveland Police sergeant dismissing the excessive force concerns of a citizen who witnessed the arrest of Karen Garner.

The video recorded on the camera worn by Loveland Police Sgt. Phil Metzler was released Tuesday by the attorney representing Garner’s family who also accuses Metzler of attempting to delete the video.

Garner, an elderly woman with dementia, was arrested in June 2020 after she was accused of stealing from a Walmart store. 

RELATED: Loveland police promise investigation after video shows elderly woman forced to the ground by officers

The incident was not publicly reported until April of this year after attorney Sarah Schielke filed a lawsuit. It was at that time that Loveland Police Chief Bob Ticer said they were made of the excessive force allegations. Since then the three employees involved in the arrest or booking of Garner have been fired. They include:

  • Officer Austin Hopp
  • Officer Daria Jalali
  • Community service officer Tyler Blackett

Metzler also responded to the scene that day but remains with the department. On Tuesday, Schielke released footage from his body worn camera which shows his interaction with a witness to the arrest of Garner.

When the video begins the man says that he saw the woman walking and he initially thought she was a kid and then he saw her get thrown to the ground.

“That person was not even running or anything, that is not OK you know,” the man says.

Metzler quickly follows up with a barrage of questions asking the man if he knew where she was coming or what crime she was accused of committing and the man replies that he did not know.

“If you were parking over there and you see a person walking and the next thing you know you see a cop throwing her to the ground, when she’s not using force or nothing, how is going to be your reaction?” the man asked.

Metzler replies in the video, “I’m not sure but usually I would think police have a reason to arrest her.”

He also tells that man that “it doesn’t matter” that she was running because she had committed a crime and that he “interjected himself” in the situation and didn’t know the whole story. 

“You may think you’re defending her, but she’s the one who committed the crime,” Metzler says. “And the business called us because she stole from them and ran. Just cause you didn’t see it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

“If other people see the same situation, they would not do the same thing,” the man replies.

Metzler quickly talks over him and says, “You don’t have all the knowledge. So you have a complete lack of trust of police because you watch the news, I understand.”

He also tells the man that he [the officer] didn’t do anything wrong. 

“If you committed a crime and you go and run from me and you resist then you’ll get taken to the ground too,” Metzler says in the video.

As the roughly four-minute video ends, Metzler tells the man he’s welcome to file a complaint if he wishes.

According to records provided by Schielke, the date of deletion for Metzler’s body camera footage was June 24, 2030. Those records show that the date was moved up to June 26, 2021, by Metzler on July 16, 2020. That is well before any details of the events were made public and Schielke said she believes he was attempting to hide the video.

RELATED: Lawyer claims new video shows Loveland police knew of injuries caused to 73-year-old woman during arrest

Schielke also released a so-called Blue report which is used to report an excessive force incident. In the report, Metzler says he reviewed photos and body-worn camera video and believed the use of force was “within policy” and the “minor force” that was used was “reasonable and appropriate.” He also wrote that the suspect (Garner) received minor scrapes from being taken to the ground and cuffed.

Schielke said the officers dislocated Garner’s shoulder, broke a bone in her arm and sprained her wrist.  

RELATED: Former Loveland officer faces assault charge, accused of writing inaccurate reports related to Karen Garner’s arrest

The report also indicates that Loveland’s assistant police chief Ray Butler reviewed all the body camera footage and photos on Aug. 10, 2020, and found the force was “necessary, reasonable and within policy.”

Charges have since been against Hopp and Jalali. Hopp faces charges of:

  • Second-degree assault causing serious bodily injury
  • Attempt to influence a public servant
  • Official misconduct

Jalali faces the following charges:

  • Peace officer: Failure to report use of force
  • Peace officer: Failure to intervene
  • Official misconduct

SUGGESTED VIDEOS: The arrest of Karen Garner