The obvious failing of the argument that a violent, dirty or otherwise bad cop is “one bad apple” is that they’re not alone. Others were there when they beat or killed someone, lied on an affidavit, a report or in court, and did nothing. They didn’t stop them. They didn’t correct them. They didn’t prevent them from doing harm. Whether they’re “just” as guilty as the perp with a shield who did the damage, they are by no means “good cops.”
But that fails to do a few important things beyond internal cop culture putting protecting the public ahead of shooting random beloved dogs without reason. Where is the line? When does the duty to prevent a fellow officer kick in? How to do it and how far it goes? Is it “say something” or pull your weapon on your fellow cop and start a gun fight? It has the potential for a good deal of harm as well.
But when former Lovelace, Colorado police officer Austin Hopp took down 73-year-old dementia-suffering Karen Garner, it was clear that he would not win cop of the year. And, indeed, Hopp got five years for his assault.
Speaking publicly about the assault for the first time during the hearing, Mr. Hopp apologized to Ms. Garner and her family, according to The Denver Post. He said he hadn’t acted out of cruelty or anger during the encounter, but rather had “misjudged” the situation.
“I am truly ashamed of my actions,” he said, according to the newspaper.
Ironically, this is almost certainly true from his perspective, as the needless violence and cruelty inflicted on another person isn’t perceived as such, just as the “perp” isn’t understood to be a person, or at least a person worthy of any human concern for harm, pain or damage.
But what of the second officer to arrive who not only failed to prevent Hopp from harming Garner, aided Garner after she was violently harmed by Hopp, but contributed independently as a good backup officer does?
The officer, Daria Jalali, formerly of the Loveland Police Department, had pleaded guilty to failure to intervene with an officer using excessive force. The charge stemmed from a law created in 2020 as part of a police reform bill enacted in the wake of racial justice protests across the state and nation. The law requires police officers to stop other officers from using excessive force and to report such instances.
At 1:38 in this video, Jalali appears, with Hopp forcing her cuffed arm up in some “officer safety compliance technique,” which sounds much more sanitary than inflicting serious damage and pain on some harmless old lady, and actively participates.
When Jalali arrived on the scene, she may not have been aware of what happened between Garner and Hopp before hand, although it’s hard to imagine that this frail old woman put up sufficient resistance to justify any force greater than a feather. But relying on the judgment of her fellow officer, Jalali may well have entered the situation under the assumption that Hopp’s use of force was justified and her job, as backup, was to back Hopp up, not question or challenge what he was doing when she didn’t have any background information and, perp in hand, this wasn’t the moment to start discussing the details of Hopp’s decisions.
So Jalali not only failed to prevent Hopp from harming Garner, but actively assisted him in doing so.
“What happened in June of 2020 was an abysmal failure. It was incomprehensible. It was an abysmal failure of that duty to protect and serve,” [Judge Joshua B. Lehman] said. “As soon as you touched her you should have thought maybe this is someone we should be (careful with.)”
Jalali explained at sentencing that she thought Garner was intoxicated rather than suffering from dementia, which apparently would have made harming her more acceptable as far as Jalali. When Garner complained of the pain of having her arm twisted up before her back and broken, Jalali said she thought the cuffs were too tight and tried to adjust them, helping Garner.
Describing herself as possibly naive and immature, Jalali apologized to Garner and her family.
What fails to appear anywhere in the proceeding, either from judge or Jalali, is any recognition of what she was charged with and pleaded guilty to, failure to intervene. At what point should she have intervened? What should she have done? How far should she have gone to prevent Hopp from harming Garner? We’re no more knowledgeable now than before Jalali for 45 days in jail.