Former Idaho Springs police officer sentenced to probation in tasing, assault of elderly man

Nicholas Hanning assault charge_body camera_gun pointed at Clark
Posted at 4:55 PM, Jan 27, 2022

GEORGETOWN, Colo. — The former Idaho Springs police officer who pleaded guilty to assaulting an elderly man in May 2021 was sentenced to probation on Thursday.

According to the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Nicholas Hanning was sentenced to two years probation, 120 days of electronic home monitoring, and 150 hours of community service.

Nicholas Hanning_idaho springs police.jpg

He pleaded guilty to third-degree assault on Dec. 9.

The charge stemmed from May 30, 2021, when Hanning, along with then-Officer Ellie Summers, responded to a report of assault at an apartment complex. A woman claimed her neighbor, Michael Clark, who was 75 years old at the time, had punched her in the face.

Body camera footage shows that the officers did not announce themselves when they knocked on Clark's door, and he opened it holding a sword-like object, according to an arrest affidavit released in July. Hanning demanded Clark put the object down, and the man put it on top of a shelving unit. Hanning and Summers then issued conflicting demands and Hanning did not warn Clark before using a Taser on him, according to the arrest affidavit.

According to the district attorney's office, "At the time Hanning deployed his Taser, Mr. Clark posed no threat to either of the officers as he was not holding any weapon."

Clark asked "What is going on? I've done nothing wrong," to which Hanning replied, "You punched the girl... then you answered the door with a freaking machete, man," according to the affidavit. Clark responded, "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... I did nothing," according to the affidavit.

Clark was transported to St. Anthony's for medical care. According to Clark's attorney and family, the incident left him with heart complications, a stroke, carotid surgery on his neck, and a burst appendix.

Hanning was charged with assault and terminated from the Idaho Springs Police Department.

He was also de-certified by the Colorado Peace Officer Standards and Training board for the excessive use of force against Clark, according to the district attorney's office.

Clark was never charged with a crime.

Summers received internal disciplinary action, per departmental policy regarding a policy violation. She resigned on Oct. 22.

Fifth Judicial District Attorney Heidi McCollum said she strongly believes officers need to be held accountable for their actions.

“While we understand that law enforcement officers have difficult jobs to do, Mr. Hanning made a reckless decision, and the wrong decision, to deploy his Taser on Mr. Clark, causing him and his family so much pain and suffering over the last eight months," she said. “Like Hanning, any police officer who uses excessive force on another person without any legitimate justification for doing so, should absolutely lose their Colorado POST certification and be barred from ever working in law enforcement again."