Unnecessary Cruelty

What kind of world do we live in where police officers appear to take great delight in using force to arrest a 73-year-old woman with dementia? The story of the Loveland woman has made it around the world now, with good reason. For the offense of walking out of a Wal-Mart without paying for $14 worth of items, police slammed Karen Garner to the ground, hogtied her and took her to a jail cell where she was handcuffed and left alone for six hours. Police apparently made no effort to call her family.  

Not only did the officers appear to use unnecessary force, as shown in a video, but later, at the station, they are shown watching the video of the arrest and laughing at the noise—the “pop”— that happened after the officers dislocated her shoulder, as if they were proud of having subdued and hurt a frail woman. Garner also suffered from a fractured arm and sprained wrist, and her family reports that her dementia has gotten worse since her encounter with police officers.

Garner likely left the Wal-Mart without paying because she forgot; memory loss is part of dementia. When an employee stopped her, she offered to pay for the items, but instead the employee called the police. This seems unnecessarily callous, as Garner walked from her home to this Wal-Mart every day, so employees must have known her. Why is there no room for forgiveness, for leniency? Has the world really become this harsh and judgmental?

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