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While body camera footage is forthcoming, an arrest affidavit for an Idaho Springs police officer includes details of the footage, including how that officer Tasered an unarmed 75-year-old man. …
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UPDATE: The 5th Judicial District Attorney's office released the bodycam footage of the incident. It is viewable here.
While body camera footage is forthcoming, an arrest affidavit for an Idaho Springs police officer includes details of the footage, including how that officer Tasered an unarmed 75-year-old man.
Nicholas Hanning, a former Idaho Springs officer, has been charged with third-degree assault following an investigation of the incident. The arrest affidavit was made public following his court appearance on July 13.
On Friday, the Idaho Springs Police Department stated Hanning had been terminated. Hanning had been with ISPD for three years.
Michael Clark, who lives in Idaho Springs, is still hospitalized six weeks after the May 30 incident. His attorney has stated he’s had heart complications, a stroke and a burst appendix.
After an internal investigation by ISPD and subsequent investigation by the District Attorney’s office and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, investigators submitted the arrest affidavit and issued a warrant for Hanning’s arrest on July 7.
He turned himself in and was released on $2,000 bond.
The affidavit, which was submitted by CBI officer Joseph Cahill, describes what transpires in approximately one minute, between the police knocking on Clark’s apartment door and Hanning deploying his Taser.
At 10:42 p.m. on May 30, two residents in Clark’s apartment building in the 3200 block of Riverside Drive call 911. A woman tells the dispatcher that a male neighbor was banging on the wall, saying they were being too loud; and when she went outside, the neighbor punched her in the face.
Dispatch relays the assault-in-progress call, and Hanning and officer Ellie Summers arrive at the apartment building at 10:46 p.m.
They contact the reporting parties, who point toward Clark’s apartment door.
“I don’t know, right there, possibly?” the female reporting party says, referring to which apartment the assailant came from.
She also describes the man who punched her as older, white man with gray hair.
The male reporting party again points to Clark’s apartment.
Hanning then walks toward Clark’s apartment and knocks loudly, however the affidavit noted that he doesn’t announce “police” or make any other comment. Summers soon joins him by the door after a second knock with no comment.
After about 15 seconds, Clark opens the door and yells, “What do you want?”
Hanning yells an expletive at him and starts to enter Clark’s apartment.
The two have a short exchange, which the affidavit describes as “unintelligible,” as Hanning forces Clark into a wall.
At this point in the footage, according to the affidavit, Clark is visibly holding a sword-like weapon with teeth along two edges. He is also seen wearing shorts and no shirt.
Hanning backs up and yells at Clark to put it down, followed by an expletive.
Summers also yells to put it down, as Clark moves inward and places the sword on top of a shelving unit.
Clark then turns back around; both officers yell, “Get down!”; and then Hanning yells, “Get out here!” Summers is also pointing her service firearm at Clark and continues yelling at him, “Get down on the ground now!”
Clark faces them as all parties start backing out of the apartment. Clark is near the doorway, and the officers are outside of it as they continue to yell at him.
Clark then starts complaining about his neighbors banging on his wall.
With all parties still near the doorway, officers continue to yell at him to get on the ground. Clark then responds, “No!”
He continues, “They hit that wall so hard” — he points to his neighbor’s apartment — “I thought they were going to come through the wall.”
Immediately after, at 10:51 p.m., Hanning fires his Taser without warning or commands. It strikes Clark in the abdomen and pelvic area. It renders him unconscious, and he falls straight back, striking a dining room chair.
Hanning pulls Clark’s right arm and, as he does so, also pulls the right side of Clark’s face into a shelving unit.
At 10:55 p.m., Hanning tells Clark, “You’re under arrest right now.” The affidavit mentions that a cut above Clark’s right eye is visibly bleeding.
At 10:56 p.m., Hanning tells the paramedics that, in addition to deploying his Taser, Clark also received “a kick to the knee and a cut on his head.”
Clark is later heard saying, “What is going on? I’ve done nothing wrong. What did I do?”
Hanning replies, “You punched that girl … then you answered the door with a freaking machete, man.”
Clark responds, “No, that is absolutely false. I did not come after nobody. I was just in bed. I attacked nobody. I was just laying in bed.”
Clark is then taken away by medical personnel, and Hanning is later heard telling a paramedic, “I kicked him in the knee and punched him in the back of the head.”
In a later interview with Summers at the hospital, Summers asks Clark why he did not obey commands to get on the ground.
Clark responds, “Because I had no reason to. There’s no reason to assault me.”
He states later than he had no idea who was at the door, and once he realized it was police officers, he put the sword-like weapon away.
“You could’ve told me, `We’re the police, and we’re having a problem,” he tells Summers. “ … You would’ve found out that I did not go in the hall. My door was locked. I did not punch that woman.”
Later, in Hanning’s ISPD response to resistance report, he states the reason the response was necessary was to effect an arrest, to defend another officer, to defend another person, to defend self and to prevent a violent felony.
He also states that, at the time of the arrest, Clark was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
CBI later reviewed Clark’s medical records from May 30-31, which is summarized in the affidavit. It details a laceration on his right eyebrow and elevated troponin level, which likely indicates some heart damage.
The toxicology screening also showed there were no illegal drugs or alcohol in Clark’s system at the time.
The arrest affidavit also includes a copy of ISPD’s Taser use policy, which states that a verbal warning should be given when possible.
It also says it should only be used to control a person who’s violent or physically resisting. It also states using a Taser on certain individuals, such as elderly individuals and children, should generally be avoided.
ISPD Chief Nate Buseck added that he felt his department’s policies regarding Taser and excessive use of force were sufficient, saying, “The policy is very clear about what’s acceptable and what is not.”
Regarding identifying as a police officer when contacting residents, Buseck explained that it’s not a requirement, but it is a recommended practice.
“All situations are not the same,” he said. “Officers have to use discretion when knocking on the door.”
He said that, while the incident was unfortunate, he believed the subsequent investigation process proved that ISPD is policing its own employees regarding following policy and the law.
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