Idaho Springs reaches settlement for use-of-force incident

Michael Clark was awarded $7 million by the City of Idaho Springs, the largest settlement in state history for a civil rights case that does not involve wrongful death

Olivia Jewell Love
olove@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 11/2/22

The City of Idaho Springs has reached a multi-million dollar settlement with Michael Clark, an Idaho Springs resident who filed a federal lawsuit against the city and members of the Idaho Springs Police Department for events that took place on May 30, 2021. 

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Idaho Springs reaches settlement for use-of-force incident

Michael Clark was awarded $7 million by the City of Idaho Springs, the largest settlement in state history for a civil rights case that does not involve wrongful death

Posted

The City of Idaho Springs has reached a multi-million dollar settlement with Michael Clark, an Idaho Springs resident who filed a federal lawsuit against the city and members of the Idaho Springs Police Department for events that took place on May 30, 2021. 

Clark was met by officers at his apartment after a call from a neighbor regarding an altercation. Officer Nicholas Hanning fired a TASER weapon at Clark, causing him to fall and sustain a head injury.

Clark filed a suit alleging injuries from the incident and Hanning was placed on leave and later terminated after a review process. Another officer involved in the incident was disciplined and no longer works for the city. 

The settlement announced on Nov. 2 is in the amount of $7 million. The claims against individual members of ISPD were dismissed and the agreement does not represent an admission of liability from the city. 

Clark's attorney, Sarah Schielke, held a press conference on Nov. 2 where her office and Clark's adult children gave statements about the settlement. 

Schielke said the settlement is the largest in state history for a civil rights case that does not involve wrongful death. She went on to describe the event with ISPD as  part of a "cultural phenomenon with police in this area."

Clark could not be present at the press conference due to medical concerns, but Schielke read a statement on his behalf where he said he hoped the settlement would be able to spur change to help other victims, and lamented the loss of his previous life. 

"In the end, I will never get back what they took," Clark's statement said.  

The road to accountability has been a winding one, exacerbated by other counts of police violence within Clear Creek County. 

Clark’s daughter, Cynthia Flageolle, felt mixed emotions for her family at the settlement with the city. 

“Most people would expect us to say we are happy and excited about this,” she said. “We would be most happy if he could have his old life back.” 

Flageolle said the settlement has provided relief in that the family will be able to take care of Clark’s medical needs, and the stress of the case can be off her father’s mind. 

The settlement can’t, however, bring back the quality of life Clark had before the incident, Flageolle said. Flageolle said her father now requires 24-hour supervision and care, uses a wheelchair and doctors say he has reached maximum recovery. 

“He’s not able to drive, he’s not even able to transfer from his bed to a wheelchair without assistance,” she said. 

Flageolle, a business owner and mom, has had her own life uprooted by the incident in 2021. She is now the primary caregiver for her father, and many of her other responsibilities are on hold.

Idaho Springs, ISPD, Michael Clark, Nicholas Hanning, settlement, use of force

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