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Clark Zimmerman was waiting in a drive-thru line when he heard that his grandpa Michael Clark had been hospitalized after an incident with Idaho Springs police.
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Flustered and panicked, Zimmerman immediately went to the hospital. He waited by his grandpa's bed as he suffered a stroke and other health complications.
While he's out of the hospital now, Michael Clark still needs 24-hour care, his family confirmed.
“It's a terrible situation,” Zimmerman said. “I don't want it to happen to anyone else.”
Zimmerman, his family members, county residents, and others held a rally at Citizens Park on Oct. 9 for the victims of the Idaho Spring Police Department. About 20 protesters held signs and yelled chants calling for an independent investigation into the department and justice for its victims.
Brady Mistic, a deaf man who is suing Idaho Springs after officers deployed a stun-gun and arrested him in Sept. 2019, also attended.
He wrote in a message — read aloud by Cynthia Clark — that officers should have better training on how to interact with people who are deaf, handicapped, elderly and more.
Michael Clark and Mistic's cases have received national attention, especially because officers Nicholas Hanning and Ellie Summers were involved both times.
Michael Clark was standing unarmed in his home on May 30, complaining about his neighbors, when Hanning deployed a stun-gun. Michael Clark subsequently lost consciousness and hit his head on a chair as he fell backward.
Afterward, Hanning was charged with third-degree assault of an at-risk person and terminated from ISPD. Summers was disciplined internally and is still with the department.
In Mistic's case, officers confronted him after he approached them during a traffic stop. They knocked him to the ground and deployed a stun-gun, as Mistic yelled “no ears.” Only after Mistic was handcuffed did officers realize he's deaf.
Then-ISPD Chief Chris Malanka reviewed the incident at the time and deemed the officers' actions appropriate.
Current Chief Nate Buseck, who joined ISPD in April, stated in an email Saturday that the department holds its employees accountable. He said Michael Clark's case is an example of this, as the department “took decisive action” and requested an outside agency investigate. This led to the criminal charges against Hanning and his termination.
“I have encouraged the public to contact me if they feel officers have not met their expectations,” Buseck wrote. “I am always … open to listening to suggestions on how ISPD can improve.”
Because of pending litigation, Buseck said he would not comment further.
Black Hawk's Jeri Brewer, who was among Saturday's protesters, felt Hanning's termination wasn't enough. She wanted lawmakers at all levels to investigate ISPD and pass more police reform laws to ensure these incidents don't happen again.
“The police are not above the law,” she said.
Cynthia Clark described how her dad moved to Idaho Springs because he wanted to be close to the mountains and the creek. But, he hasn't been home since May 30.
Clark described how stressful the past four months have been, saying she felt alone in her fight until recently.
“It's overwhelming to see so many people … who want to see a change,” she said over the megaphone. “ … A lot of this could've been prevented.”
Cynthia Clark said everyone has a right to be safe in Idaho Springs. She wants the entire department, but especially Summers, to be held accountable.
She said the city will be hearing a lot more from the protesters soon, and invited people to join the Facebook group named “No More ISPD Victims.”
Dumont's Autumn Brooks, a volunteer lobbyist for the school district, described working with Malanka to lobby for Colorado's police reform bill, SB 20-217, which passed last year.
Now, though, she felt like the wool had been pulled over her eyes.
“We demand better,” she said.
Ultimately, though, the community needs a working relationship with the police, Brooks commented. She believed the relationship could be rebuilt, but only after the city takes steps toward accountability and reform.
Zimmerman said that he's going to study to become a police officer, so he can make a difference and be part of the solution.
“We need it to stop,” he said. “ … We want good cops up here to make a difference.”
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