Loveland has picked consultants for Garner probe, city manager says – The Denver Post

Loveland City Manager Steve Adams announced Tuesday that the city has picked consultants to conduct a third-party investigation and assessment of the Loveland Police Department.

The reviews are separate from an ongoing investigation by Fort Collins Police Services on behalf of the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, though all were prompted by the arrest of Karen Garner and the federal civil rights lawsuit filed against five Loveland officers on her behalf this year.

Garner’s attorney says Garner, 74, was denied medical care after her arm was broken and shoulder dislocated by police during an arrest in June 2020. The events surrounding her arrest have since spurred local, national and international criticism of the officers involved and the police department.

District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin has said the investigation into whether officers behaved criminally during Garner’s arrest will conclude in mid-May, at which point he will decide whether to press charges.

Charges against Garner related to the alleged shoplifting incident that prompted her contact with police were dropped in August after a motion was filed describing how Garner “appears to be incapable of understanding her surroundings or her actions” due to dementia and sensory aphasia.

Once the DA’s investigation is complete, consultants will conduct the city’s internal affairs investigation and independent assessment. Adams told the Loveland City Council on Tuesday that the former is expected to take about two months while the latter will take three to four months.

He described the consultants’ qualifications generally but declined to name them, explaining later that they are still negotiating over contract details with the city.

Helping with the human resources-led internal affairs investigation will be a “selected consultant specialized in police internal affairs investigations” that has worked with other agencies in Colorado, he said.

He also said the independent assessment will be led by a seven-member team that serves as the “lead agency at federal and local levels on police accountability” and whose experience includes work with communities in the Denver metropolitan area.

In response to a question from councilor Andrea Samson, human resources director Julia Holland said the city determined the two were “the best-equipped and available resources to get this started quickly” after communicating with organizations based in Colorado and around the country.

She also told Samson that police chief Bob Ticer would “not necessarily” be present if investigators choose to question department employees.

The internal affairs investigation could result in discipline against the officers involved in the arrest if they are found to have violated department policies or procedures. Three of the officers involved in the case have resigned, while another was placed on administrative leave, and another’s duties have not been modified.

In addition, the independent assessment will have the ability to generate “strategies for community engagement on critical (police department) issues,” which could include a citizen oversight board, according to Adams’ presentation.

Adams also said an internal affairs investigation into the arrest of Preston Sowl is ongoing and expected to conclude this month, but declined to offer additional details when asked by councilor Rob Molloy.

A $290,000 settlement in an excessive force case pressed by Sowl against the city and four Loveland officers was announced earlier this year.

Mayor Jacki Marsh asked how much of the results of the Sowl and Garner investigations would be shared with the council and the public.

“We’re talking about building trust with the public,” she said. “Part of that is opening ourselves up and saying, ‘This is what happened. These are the steps were going to take to make sure this doesn’t happen.’”

City Attorney Moses Garcia told Marsh that recent legislative changes would give the police department the ability to release information related to the investigations at the discretion of the police chief.

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