Ex-Loveland police officer pleads not guilty to charges in Karen Garner arrest

A former Loveland police officer pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges alleging he assaulted a woman during an arrest in summer 2020, then downplayed his use of force in the arrest report.

Austin Hopp, 26, pleaded not guilty to all three charges in connection with the arrest of now 74-year-old Karen Garner — who has dementia — in June 2020.

“I think we’re in the position where the only option is to enter a not guilty plea,” Hopp’s defense attorney Jonathan Datz told Judge Michelle Brinegar during the court hearing.

Datz told Brinegar he is still going through evidence in the case, including “hours upon hours of audio.”


Brinegar scheduled Hopp’s six-day trial to begin April 18.

The district attorney’s office charged Hopp with two felonies and a misdemeanor about a month after Garner and her family filed a civil rights lawsuit against Hopp, former officer Daria Jalali, and three others in the department.

Hopp, Jalali, former officer Tyler Blackett and former Sgt. Philip Metzler have since resigned from the department.

Photos of Loveland police officers involved in the arrest of Karen Garner are on display following the announcement that two Loveland police officers will face criminal charges following the arrest of the 73-year-old woman with dementia during a press conference with Garner's family outside the Police and Courts Building in Loveland, Colo. on Wednesday, May 19, 2021.

The city of Loveland settled the lawsuit with Garner and her family for $3 million in September.

Jalali was also charged with three misdemeanors in connection with Garner's arrest, and she has not entered a plea in her case. No one else has been criminally charged in Garner's arrest.

Arrest documents: Ex-Loveland police officer downplayed force in report on Karen Garner, arrest documents allege

Hopp’s case had been continued in court several times since his preliminary hearing in August because Datz said the defense was waiting on information from the city of Loveland regarding their independent investigations into officers' actions during Garner’s arrest and the overall culture and training within the Loveland Police Department.

The internal investigations have been completed, spokesperson Tom Hacker previously said, but the city has not yet released the results of those investigations. Hillard Heintze, a law enforcement and public safety consulting firm, had been contracted to conduct the investigations.

Another officer not named in the excessive force lawsuit — officer Paul Ashe — was placed on unpaid leave as a result of the Garner internal affairs investigation, spokesperson Tom Hacker told the Coloradoan last month.

Loveland's Community Trust Commission had their first meeting last month. The 16-person commission was launched in response to public outrage after body camera footage of Garner's arrest was released to the public by Garner's attorney when the civil lawsuit was filed.

The commission will identify action steps the city can take to rebuild trust with the community. Their next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 6.

Garner was arrested in June 2020 on suspicion of attempting to steal about $13 in items from Walmart. The civil lawsuit claimed officers injured her during the arrest and did not provide her with medical care. Her criminal charges were later dismissed.

Hopp will appear in court a few times before his trial, with the next court date scheduled March 28. Jalali is next scheduled to appear in court Nov. 30.

All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in court. Arrests and charges are merely accusations by law enforcement until, and unless, a suspect is convicted of a crime.

Sady Swanson covers public safety, criminal justice, Larimer County government and more throughout Northern Colorado. You can send your story ideas to her at or on Twitter at @sadyswan. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Ex-Colorado police officer pleads not guilty in Loveland arrest