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Officer put on leave for dislocating shoulder of 73-year-old with dementia

A Colorado police officer was put on administrative leave Thursday after a 73-year-old woman with dementia filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the officer dislocated her shoulder after she forgot to pay $14 for groceries.

“The arresting officer in the case has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation’s outcome,” Loveland Police Department said in a statement. “An officer who assisted in the arrest and the on-scene supervisor have been reassigned to administrative duties.”

The federal lawsuit was filed by Karen Garner against the police department and city of Loveland, Colo., The Associated Press reported.

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In June of 2020, Walmart employees reportedly called the police after Garner tried to leave the store without paying for her food. She claims that she offered to pay when called back inside, but the employees allegedly refused and took the groceries. 

Body camera footage included in the lawsuit showed Garner walking on the side of the road picking flowers when the officer walks up to her.

The officer then asks why she did not stop walking when he approached her with his police vehicle. 

Garner appears to shrug her shoulders, and the officer can be seen grabbing one of her arms and taking the 80-pound woman down to arrest her, according to the AP.

“I told you to stop. You don’t get to act this way,” the officer reportedly said.

Later an officer in the video implies that Garner tried to kick him, though her legs aren't visible in the footage, according to the news outlet.  

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The lawsuit said Garner did not receive medical attention for her dislocated shoulder until six hours after the arrest, according to AP.

Garner is suing for unspecified damages. The suit alleges that her constitutional right against excessive force was violated as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The lawsuit also claims Garner is now suffering from anxiety and fear when she goes out in public. 

“What little freedom and happiness Ms. Garner enjoyed in her life as an elderly adult with declining mental health was, on June 26, 2020, recklessly and deliberately obliterated by the Loveland Police Department,” the suit says. 

The police department said it learned of the complaint about her arrest after the lawsuit was filed. However, body camera footage captured a bystander who did go up to the officers after filming the arrest and raised concerns with the supervisor about how the elderly woman was treated.

Sarah Schielke, Garner’s lawyer, said the officers questioned her on why the family wanted to file a complaint considering how Garner was acting during the arrest.

“It’s definitely not just a bad apple,” Schielke said.