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Report Shows Colorado Cop Buried Body Cam Footage Of Officers Brutalizing 73-Year-Old Dementia Sufferer

Loveland, Colorado has a police problem. The problem isn’t that there are too few, or that they’re being underfunded. The problem is the ones they already have — the ones that keep getting sued.

On July 20, 2020, Target contacted Loveland PD to deal with a man (Keenan Stuckey) suffering from mental health issues in their parking lot, requesting that they arrest or remove him even though he was breaking no laws and bothering nobody. Loveland PD sent six officers there in minutes, and they promptly brutalized the man with batons, kicking him, punching him, and doing a pile-driver type of jump atop his lifeless body.

That’s not even from Stuckey’s lawsuit. That’s from another lawsuit filed against another Loveland officer. That brutal excerpt is taken from a lawsuit filed by a couple who watched Officer Matthew Grashorn kill their dog within seconds of his arrival on the scene.

The incident referenced was included to show the pattern and practice of excessive force deployment by Loveland cops. It was also used to illustrate the city was not only aware the PD’s officers were violent, but refused to handle this problem.

There was another case of senseless brutality referenced in that lawsuit over a cop’s killing of a non-threatening dog. It involved officers brutalizing an elderly dementia sufferer over less than $14 of alleged theft.

On June 26, 2020, Walmart suffered no loss when dementia-sufferer and 73-year-old woman Karen Garner walked out of the store without paying for $13.88 of items. When confronted, she gave the items back and attempted to pay for them. Walmart refused and instead called LPD to deal with it. LPD sent multiple officers, including Sergeant Metzler, to locate and tackle Ms. Garner, causing her to suffer a broken and dislocated shoulder. 

As Emma Camp reports for Reason, this incident also resulted in a lawsuit. Garner sued Loveland and its police department in April 2021, alleging multiple rights violations. Unsurprisingly, even more disturbing facts about Loveland cops continue to surface. An independent report [PDF] commissioned by the city dug into this incident and found things were even worse than

A bad cop will brutalize an elderly person over $14 in merchandise. A worse cop will not only refuse to intervene, but will help cover it up. Here’s Emma Camp, summarizing the findings:

According to the report, “[Officer Phillip] Metzler changed the case number on his [body camera] footage, which recorded the citizen who complained about the arrest, to an unrelated incident number. This removed the footage from the Garner case file available to LPD and the District Attorney. In addition, by reclassifying the footage to an ‘incident’ rather than a case, Metzler changed the retention lifespan of the footage from 10 years to one year.

Fortunately, not everyone in the Loveland PD is Officer Phillip Metzler. From the report:

LPD Professional Standards Unit personnel discovered this change and preserved the BWC footage. Had they not preserved it, the footage would have been deleted the week before this investigation initiated.

And that’s on top of one of the involved officers (Officer Austin Hopp) claiming any visible injuries were due to the 73-year-old “struggling” while she was subdued and cuffed. And, to be sure, the cuts and bruises were definitely part of this over-reaction by the Loveland officers. But, even though Hopp’s body camera captured the woman’s complaints about shoulder pain (referencing her dislocated shoulder), none of this made it into his arrest report.

Now, back to Loveland’s culpability in all of this. That will have to be determined by the courts handling these lawsuits. Garner has already obtained a $3 million settlement from the city, but the handling of this case — and its resulting independent investigation — makes the city look guilty as hell, no matter what it may have denied en route to making taxpayers pay for extremely terrible customer service. As Camp reports for Reason, the city has had this report in hand for more than a year at this point. It has only now (following the resignation of Officer Metzler) decided to share the report with the public.

There’s a lot of clean up to be done here. The abuses seen here aren’t aberrations. They’re the sort of thing that becomes more and more common when no one — not PD officials or the city employing them — holds officers accountable. The longer they refuse to perform this essential task, the worse it’s going to be for residents who will be expected to not only endure the brutality of officers but foot their legal bills when they’re sued.

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