On June 26, 2020 – the day Karen Garner, 73, was forcibly arrested by Loveland police officers – Reidesel Mendoza was “the only person who did the right thing”.
Mendoza had stopped his car to confront officers who had arrested Garner because “the way they were handling this situation was not the right way,” he said in an interview on Saturday, after receiving an award from citizenship for his actions that day.
“I tried to do what was right,” Mendoza said.
Garner – who suffers from dementia – was accused of leaving Walmart that day without paying for $13.88 worth of goods, but staff stopped her and collected the items before she left. Garner was on her way home when Officer Austin Hopp arrested her. About 30 seconds after Hopp got out of his car, he forced Garner to the ground and tried to stop him.
Another officer – Daria Jalali – arrived soon after to help Hopp restrain Garner. sergeant. Philip Metzler arrived after the two officers got Garner into one of their patrol cars.
Mendoza saw how the officers were treating Garner and decided he had to intervene.
“Do you have to use that much aggression,” Mendoza could be heard telling Hopp in body camera footage of Hopp, released by an attorney who represented Garner’s family in a civil lawsuit filed against the city.
Hopp then told him to “get out of here, it’s none of your business”, and further explained, “that’s what happens when you fight the police”.
Later, during a conversation between Mendoza and Metzler at the scene captured on Metzler’s body camera footage, Mendoza said, “‘When you see a person walking by and the next thing you see is a cop the throwing her to the ground without her using force or anything, what will be your reaction? »
“I’m not sure, but I generally think the police have a reason to arrest him,” Metzler replied, and repeatedly told Mendoza that he didn’t have all the information, so he couldn’t not judge the actions of the police.
“You may think you’re defending her, but she’s the one who committed a crime,” Metzler said in the body camera footage.
Garner suffered a dislocated shoulder and a fractured arm during the arrest, according to a civil lawsuit settled by the city with Garner’s family by the city for $3 million.
Hopp and Jalali have both been criminally charged for their actions in this incident. Hopp was sentenced to five years in prison for second-degree assault, and Jalali was sentenced to 45 days in prison and three years probation for failing to intervene.
In addition to Hopp and Jalali, Metzler and Community Services Officer Tyler Blackett resigned from the department. Another officer, Paul Ashe, was fired as part of the investigation into the officers’ actions during and after Garner’s arrest, but is suing the department for wrongful termination.
“Everyone has the right to express themselves”
Mendoza was praised for intervening in Garner’s arrest during Loveland’s Latin Heritage Month celebration at Foote Lagoon on Saturday, receiving a citizenship award.
“Everyone has the right to express themselves,” Mendoza said after receiving the award. “…If you see something wrong, you have the right to speak up. It can change someone else’s life.
The award was made in part by the Community Trust Commission, which was formed by Loveland City Council to help rebuild trust with the community and its police service.
Acting Loveland Police Chief Eric Stewart applauded Mendoza’s courage to step up that day and said the public plays a key role in the success of policing, referring to one of the principles of Robert Peel – who he says is considered the father of modern policing –: “The public is the police and the police are the public.”
“Obviously we can’t do the policing without the public. We certainly didn’t do a great job that day,” Stewart said. “…I’m sorry I let you down that day.”
Loveland Mayor Jacki Marsh thanked Mendoza for overcoming the fear of doing the right thing by stepping in, something not everyone would do in a similar situation.
“You have my sincere appreciation and admiration,” Marsh told Mendoza. “…I can’t thank you enough, because on that horrible day, you were the beacon of hope, the ray of sunshine for Karen Garner. You were the only person who did the right thing that day- the.
This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Man Who Intervened in Loveland Karen Garner Arrested