A former Colorado police officer who assaulted a 73-year-old woman with dementia during an arrest was sentenced to five years in prison. Former Loveland officer Austin Hopp was seen on widely-aired video, joking with colleagues about the arrest, reports the Fort Collins Coloradoan. Hopp accepted a plea agreement that allowed him to plead guilty to an amended charge of second-degree assault despite opposition from Karen Garner's family. The plea agreement meant Hopp's potential maximum sentence dropped from 30 years in prison to eight.
Hopp was responding to a petty theft at Walmart, where staff had stopped Garner outside the store after she tried to walk out with merchandise. Garner returned the items and was walking home when Hopp stopped her. "It is shocking, it is unbelievable and frankly it's confusing because it never should have happened," Assistant District Attorney Matt Maillaro said. "It was a needless contact, a needless use of police force." Garner appeared confused when Hopp approached her, as seen in Hopp's body camera footage, and she continued walking home. About 25 seconds after Hopp got out of his car, he had Garner on the ground with her arm twisted behind her back while she repeated "I'm going home." "Clearly Officer Hopp was going to take nothing but pure submission," Maillaro said.