of the bad-cover-for-worse dept
Loveland, Colorado has a police problem. The problem is not that there are too few or that they are underfunded. The problem is the ones they already have – the ones who 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, demanding that they arrest or remove him, despite the fact that he has not broken any laws or harassed anyone . Loveland PD dispatched six officers there within minutes and they immediately battered the man, kicked him, punched him and made a stack jump on his lifeless body.
That’s not even from Stuckey’s lawsuit. That stems from another lawsuit filed against another Loveland official. This brutal excerpt comes from a lawsuit filed by a couple who watched Officer Matthew Grashorn kill their dog within seconds of arriving at the scene.
The incident referred to was recorded to demonstrate the pattern and practice of the excessive use of force by Loveland Police. It was also used to illustrate that the city not only knew that PD officials were violent, but also refused to resolve the issue.
There was another instance of senseless brutality referred to in this lawsuit for the killing of a non-threatening dog by a police officer. They involved officers who brutalized an elderly patient with dementia for allegedly stealing less than $14.
On June 26, 2020, Walmart suffered no loss when 73-year-old Ms. Karen Garner, who has dementia, walked out of the store without paying for $13.88 worth of items. When confronted, she returned the items and attempted to pay for them. Walmart declined and instead called LPD to take care of it. LPD dispatched several officers, including Sergeant Metzler, to locate and attack Ms Garner, resulting in her suffering a broken and dislocated shoulder.
As Emma Camp reports for Reason, the incident also led to a lawsuit. Garner sued Loveland and its police department in April 2021 for multiple violations of the law. Not surprisingly, more disturbing facts about the Loveland Police Department are coming to the surface. An independent report [PDF] The city investigated the incident and found that things were even worse
A bad cop is going to brutalize an elderly person with $14 worth of goods. 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 message, “[Officer Phillip] Metzler changed the case number on his [body camera] Footage recording the citizen complaining about the arrest to an unrelated incident number. This removed the footage from the Garner case file, which was available to LPD and the district attorney. By reclassifying the footage as an “incident” rather than a case, Metzler changed the retention period of the footage from 10 years to one year.“
Fortunately, not everyone is in the Loveland PD Officer Phillip Metzler. From the report:
LPD Professional Standards Unit staff discovered this change and preserved the BWC material. Had they not kept it, the footage would have been deleted a week before this investigation began.
On top of that, one of the officers involved (Officer Austin Hopp) claimed that all visible injuries were due to the 73-year-old “fighting” while restrained and restrained. And of course, the cuts and bruises were definitely part of that overreaction by the Loveland officers. But although Hopp’s body camera recorded the woman’s complaints of shoulder pain (related to her dislocated shoulder), none of it made it into his arrest report.
Now back to Loveland’s guilt in all of this. The courts that handle these lawsuits have to decide that. Garner has already received a $3 million settlement from the city, but the handling of this case — and the resulting independent investigation — makes the city look guilty as hell no matter what they do along the way, the taxpayers for an extremely horrible customer Having to pay may have denied service. As Camp tells Reason, the city has had this report in its hands for more than a year at this point. It has only now (after Officer Metzler’s resignation) decided to release the report to the public.
There’s a lot to clean up here. The abuses observed here are not aberrations. They’re the sort of thing that’s becoming increasingly common when nobody — not the PD officers or the city that employs them — is holding the officers accountable. The longer they refuse to perform this vital duty, the worse it gets for residents, who are expected not only to endure the officers’ brutality, but also to pay their legal fees if they are sued.
Filed under: Colorado, Karen Garner, Keenan Stuckey, Loveland, Loveland Pd, Philip Metzler