Idaho Springs cop used Taser on 75-year-old in body camera footage video

This undated photo provided by the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office shows Nicholas Hanning. Hanning, a police officer in Colorado, used a Taser on a 75-year-old man less than a minute after he answered his door with a “Hawaiian sword” but after he put down the weapon and without issuing any warning, according to a court document released Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (The 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office via AP)

DENVER | Body camera footage released Thursday shows an Idaho Springs police officer using a Taser on a 75-year-old man without warning less than a minute after police said he answered the door to his apartment holding a sword-like object.

The videos show Michael Clark falling backward after being shocked by the Taser as he stood inside his apartment May 30, hitting a chair on his way to the ground and temporarily losing consciousness.

Clark is not shown at the door holding the object, which was described by his lawyer as a sawfish bill but as a machete by the two responding officers. The video shows Clark opening the door and asking, “What do you want?” Immediately, Idaho Springs Police Department Officer Nicholas Hanning expresses surprise and walks toward Clark. A crashing sound can be heard on the videos, which were made public by Clark’s lawyer, Sarah Schielke.

According to court documents, Hanning forced Clark into a wall. On the video, Hanning and his partner yell at Clark to put the object down, and he immediately places it on top of a shelving unit in the apartment.

Clark then refused the officers’ conflicting commands to get on the ground and get out of the apartment, forcefully saying “No.” Then, as he was talking about noise being made by his neighbors, one of whom had accused Clark of hitting her in the face, Hanning deployed his Taser.

Hanning is charged with third-degree assault. Idaho Springs police fired him last week. Hanning’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a telephone call and an email seeking comment.

It was not until after Clark was on the ground in handcuffs after the stun gun was used on him, that Hanning told him that he was accused of punching his neighbor in the face, which Clark denied.

Clark was hospitalized before being admitted to a nursing care facility because of a cascade of health problems stemming from the shock, including a stroke, a burst appendix and hearing complications, according to Schielke.

Clark and his family pressed for the public release of the body camera footage because Schielke said police had released misleading information about what happened, suggesting Clark was at fault.

Clark, who has not watched the videos, said in a statement that there are many good police officers, but not the ones he encountered at his home.

“People like this should not be police. What they took from me that day, I can’t put into words. I’m going to do whatever it takes with what little time I have left to stop this from happening to anyone else ever again,” he said.

Last week, a judge ordered that prosecutors must release officers’ body camera footage of what happened by July 29 under a new state law that generally requires footage to be released within 21 days of a request. The faces of everyone else besides Clark and the officers must be blurred. Schielke released copies of the footage given to her with the faces blurred because she did not think prosecutors were acting quickly enough.

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Joe Felice
Joe Felice
1 month ago

I would always comply with whatever command an officer would give, so long as it is reasonable. Unless a person is physically menacing an officer, however, I do not see ANY reason for ANY physical force. Yet and still, black men have been executed on the spot for failing to comply with orders they deemed unreasonable. On the plus side, at least the officer did not execute this man.

If a person is holding something other than a gun, common sense would dictate that the officer step back until the object is put down, regardless of what it is. I would not walk into the person’s space. In reality, the officers could have closed the door and told the man to put down whatever he was holding and come out with hands up. By walking consciously and directly into the situation, the officer became the aggressor. Also, both officers should have realized they were dealing with a senior who might not have been in total control of his faculties.

There are many good officers, but the bad ones are bringing disrespect to the profession. Partners should call out each other when they act inappropriately, and DAs should prosecute. Those-2 things would stop this crap. Obviously, costly lawsuits haven’t worked.