Police Officer Arrested on Assault Charges after Tasing Elderly Man


Officer Nicholas Hanning, with the Idaho Springs Police Department, arrested for assault on a 75-year old man
Nicholas Hanning

Police Officers Give One Story, Video Evidence Tells Another

(CO) – On May 30, the Idaho Springs Police Department received a call about a man assaulting a woman. Officers Nicholas Hanning and Ellie Summers responded. The two officers spoke to a distraught, highly intoxicated female who claimed the neighbor had punched her in the face.

The officers go to the next apartment. 9News. com wrote “Hanning and the man got into a fight, the release said, and he deployed his stun gun after he and other officers gave multiple commands.” DenverCBSLocal.com wrote “Hanning said Michael Clark was armed with a sword-like weapon and refused to drop it.” 

The information from the media is either coming from the press release or the officer’s report. Even if it’s coming from the press release, it would have originally come from the officer’s report.

The video evidence from the officers’ body cameras shows the officers knocking on 75-year old Michael Clark’s door. They do not announce they are the police. According to Mr. Clark, he had banged on his wall to get the neighbors to be quiet. He doesn’t know who is banging on his door so he grabs a machete type knife, but appears to hold it pointing toward the floor.

Clark opens the door and yells, “What do you want?” Officer Hanning sees the weapon, enters the hall and kicks Mr. Clark back. He also appears to strike him. Hanning yells, “put it down, motherfucker.” Clark puts the knife on top of a cabinet then turns to speak to the officers who have moved back into the hallway outside of the apartment. They give commands to come out, then a command to get on the ground. Clark says, no, then begins to explain what his neighbors were doing. Hanning shoots him with his taser.

Police Officers Attempt to Justify the Police Violence

The video evidence of the assault on Mr. Clark is disturbing in many ways. There are the obvious police violence issues such as excessive force and violence against the elderly. But there are more problems. Mr. Clark may be using an angry tone, but he is not being physically aggressive. He is not moving toward the officers nor is he given any warning that he will be tased if he does not comply. There is no valid reason to have escalated the force against Mr. Clark.

What comes next is even worse. It appears that Mr. Clark is knocked unconscious by the taser. He also bangs his head on a chair on the way down. I’ve always been taught that you should not move an injured person. The video shows the two police officers dragging the unconscious man into the hallway outside of the apartment. Why? Then Officer Summers contacts dispatch saying, “207. Taser deployed. Party came out with a machete.” Were they setting the scene to justify their actions? They would have had to have known the bodycam recorded everything.

If the police department and the district attorney’s office got the information in their press releases from the officer’s report, then the officers continued to lie and cover-up.

Officer Hanning Charged with Third Degree Assault

An Internal Affairs Investigation was conducted along with a criminal investigation even though both agencies tried to suppress the video evidence. Officer Nicholas Hanning was fired from the Idaho Springs Police Department. The district attorney’s office charged Hanning with one count of Third Degree Assault. That is a felony assault charge.

It does not appear that any action was taken against Officer Ellie Summers.

Civil Lawsuit to be Filed

Mr. Clark is going to file a civil lawsuit against the police department and the city. This could be one very costly lawsuit for Idaho Springs. “Clark was ultimately hospitalized with heart complications, and 36 hours later had a stroke, according to Schielke.” She also states that the stroke was “followed by carotid surgery on his neck where he was choked, followed by a burst appendix.” 

Mr. Clark had been living independently. After the medical issues, due to the assault by the police officers, he is now in a nursing facility. We don’t even know if the complaint was valid or if it was a false report made by a highly intoxicated person. We do know that Mr. Clark was never charged with a crime.

There has been a lot of damage to Mr. Clark’s way of life and quality of life and will likely result in a lot of compensation.

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