IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. — An attorney claims an Idaho Springs police officer "tased, kicked, tackled, punched and choked" an unarmed and unclothed 75-year-old man in his apartment, leaving him in the hospital struggling to survive.
Sarah Schielke with The Life & Liberty Law Office said a lawsuit is forthcoming after two press releases were issued Thursday by the Idaho Springs Police Department and 5th Judicial District Attorney's Office. The police department said officers encountered a man — later identified as Michael Clark — in his 70s who was wielding a "club-like object" after responding to a call of an alleged assault around 11 p.m. on May 30, 2021. Following an investigation, an arrest warrant was issued for a charge of third-degree assault of an at-risk adult, which is a Class 6 felony, against Officer Nicholas Hanning, 35.
Clark was never charged with a crime. A press release, published by Clark's attorney Sarah Schielke with The Life & Liberty Law Office, claims that Clark remains in the hospital and in poor health, and his children and grandchildren want answers.
"The tasing caused him heart complications, followed by a stroke, followed by carotid surgery on his neck where he was choked, followed by a burst appendix," the press release reads.
The press release also disputes facts the police department and 5th Judicial District Attorney's Office published regarding the incident.
It reads that the police department's press release paints Clark as "some sort of crazed individual wielding a sword who deserved it" and withholds the evidence that proves otherwise, including body camera footage.
"The 24-page affidavit for Officer Hanning’s arrest warrant was originally filed as a public document. That affidavit details screenshots of the bodyworn camera footage and lays out, frame by frame, how excessive and outrageous these officers’ use of force on the unarmed Michael Clark was. Without citing a single legal basis for doing so, beyond desiring 'privacy' for Officer Hanning and his family, Hanning’s defense attorney filed a motion to seal that affidavit from the public," the press release reads.
It adds that District Attorney Heidi McCollum did not oppose the motion.
"What good are body cameras if, while withholding the videos, the police and prosecutors issue their own misleading propaganda in an effort to prime the public to believe the victim was some sort of sociopath, or some kind of person who deserved it?" the press release reads.
It also claims that Clark answered his door that evening holding a sword because he feared for his life after hearing unknown individuals banging on his door and not identifying themselves. He put the sword down when asked by police, according to the press release and when officers yelled at him to both “get down on the ground” and “get out here now” — leaving Clark unsure of what to do — they tased him, according to the press release.
While the Idaho Springs Police Department said Officer Hanning has not had any prior complaints related to use of force with the department, the press release says he broke the rib of a 71-year-old in 2013 while he was employed by the Park County Sheriff's Office.
Clark's two children said their father has lost everything.
"Every second and every minute that goes by with the police being allowed to keep the world in the dark and make everyone believe our dad might have done something to deserve this is torture," they said in a joint statement. "This is wrong. This is just so, so wrong. We won’t wait another minute because our dad may not have another minute. Our family deserves the truth right now."
A hearing for Hanning is scheduled for Monday at 9 a.m. in Clear Creek County District Court.
Editor's note: This story originally said a lawsuit has been filed. This has been corrected to read a lawsuit will be filed soon and the information provided is from a press release.