Hopp will not move to halfway house
Board unanimously denies his request
Three of the Weld County Community Corrections Board members voted unanimously during a hearing Thursday to deny a request that former Loveland Police Department officer Austin Hopp be transferred from prison to a halfway house.
Following the brief hearing, Karen Garner’s family said they were sad they had to be there this early into his sentence, but relieved with the outcome.
“We are going to keep showing up,” said John Steward, Garner’s son.
Hopp was sentenced to five years in prison in May after pleading guilty to second-degree assault for his 2020 arrest of Garner, an event that hit international headlines as information on the arrest of the 73-yearold woman was brought to light.
The former officer has spent the last roughly nine months in the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility in southeast Colorado.
Colorado statue says that offenders who have not been convicted of a violent offense shall be electronically referred to Community Corrections at 19 months prior to the estimated parole eligibility date.
Hopp was referred because his plea agreement did not include the crime of violence modifier and his first parole eligibility date is in July of 2024, roughly 18 months from now
This brought Hopp’s case before three of the board members Thursday, who spent around 30 minutes hearing from Garner’s family and those who worked on the case before issuing their ruling.
Raquel Denaeyer, program manager for the Intervention Community Correction Services in Greeley, said that should Hopp be approved to move to the Greeley halfway house he would have a number of conditions, including anger management, behavioral treatment and payment of child support.
She said that Hopp had a low risk score in the prison, and would go through their program “pretty seamlessly,” expecting that he would be able to move out of the halfway house to intensive supervised parole by the end of this year.
The board allowed several people to speak during the hearing, including two of Garner’s family members and Assistant District Attorney Matt Maillaro with the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, who led the prosecution in Hopp’s case.
While certain offenders can greatly benefit by moving from the prison to the community corrections program, one Maillaro described as “critical” for many offenders to have stability, he argued that Hopp was undeserving of the resources the program offers based on his specific needs and the nature of the offense.
Maillaro also spoke on the severity of the incident and what happened to Garner, a case he described as the most impactful one of his career as a prosecutor.
“He didn’t just abandon his duty as an officer who was sworn to protect and serve, he abandoned his duty to Ms. Garner personally,” he said.
Shannon Steward, Garner’s daughter-in-law said that much of the discussion on whether Hopp should be moved was based in a myriad of statute rules. She said, though, that while Hopp technically qualified to be moved, he had not served enough time in prison.
She also read from a mitigation report that Hopp and his team sent to the Garner family ahead of his sentencing. That report said that, at the time of the incident, Hopp was in the worst mental state of his life, tailspinning from “personal demons,” Shannon Steward said.
She said the report also said Hopp’s ability to maintain employment, certainly in Colorado, is gone forever because of the widespread coverage of his case; those in the program are expected to hold a job while at the halfway house.
“We really feel strongly this is not the best use of this program for him,” Shannon Steward said. “This is not a way for him to do what the heart of the program is, and it is simply a way to get ozut of DOC.”
“What he did to my mom, I want him to be in there to learn his lesson and to seek help so he can come out and be fit for society and not have this happen again,” John Steward said, adding that the image of his mom being arrested that day is something that will never leave him.
The board took just minutes to discuss whether to approve Hopp, with all three men voting no.
Among the reasons were Hopp’s lack of a tie to the community as well as concerns about the trust between public safety and the community, something one member said Hopp damaged in Larimer County and he didn’t want happening in Weld County.
Following the ruling, Shannon Steward said she was relieved at the decision despite sadness they had to fight for this so early.
She said one thing she felt had an impact during their discussion with the board was bringing Hopp’s own words to the table and not simply getting upset.
“We respect the laws of Colorado, we respect the laws of the Community Corrections program, and we recognize they have a difficult job making these decisions,” she said. “We went in and based it on the principles, on the statute and that is what won today,”
“We are going to continue to fight for her and fight for other people so this doesn’t happen to them,” John Steward said.