The caption on this photo of Michael Clark in a lawsuit against the City of Idaho Springs reads: "Mr. Clark’s face, at the moment he realized he was being set up by police and falsely charged with crimes that could send him to prison for the rest of his life."City of Idaho Springs via The Life & Liberty Law Office
The developments related to the startling arrest of 75-year-old Idaho Springs resident Michael Clark have been coming on like a Vin Diesel franchise: fast and furious. A lawsuit was filed in the case on July 26, the same day the firm representing Clark released a video of him talking about what had happened eight weeks earlier.
Clark was unarmed and clad only in his underwear on May 30, when he was tased by Officer Nicholas Hanning following a false report against him by a neighbor. After falling and being rushed to a nearby medical facility, Clark suffered a stroke and remained hospitalized for weeks. Earlier this month, Hanning was charged with third-degree assault against an at-risk adult and subsequently fired by the Idaho Springs Police Department.
Meanwhile, the Clear Creek County judge who oversaw a July 13 hearing gave the ISPD and the 5th Judicial District DA's office until July 29 to share video captured by body cameras worn by Hanning and fellow Officer Ellie Summers, with the delay put in place to allow for the faces of some witnesses to be blurred. But after more than a week had passed, attorney Sarah Schielke of Loveland's The Life & Liberty Law Office, which is representing Clark, arranged for the blurring and released the videos herself.
Here's a compilation of video from both officers' cameras:
Schielke filed a lawsuit on Clark's behalf on July 26; the defendants are the City of Idaho Springs, Hanning, Summers and a third Idaho Springs Police Department member, Corporal Richard Sonnenberg. The complaint offers harrowing details about the arrest and the consequences for Clark, who "lost consciousness and flew backwards from the tasing, striking his head on a dining room chair on the way down. His head was split open and bleeding," the suit says.
"The officers dragged [Clark's] body into the hallway for all to see," it continues. "And then they climbed atop his lifeless body, with Officer Hanning putting his knee over and onto Mr. Clark's head and neck, compressing his airway. They handcuffed him on the ground," even though he had "done nothing. He had broken no laws. Minutes before this occurred, he had been sleeping in his bed."
Clark was subsequently admitted to a nursing center, and on July 26, shortly after his release, he was finally able to sit for an interview that Schielke provided to news outlets. He is clearly not fully recovered; as Schielke notes, he misspells his own name toward the beginning of the conversation and "does not have a full grasp of how much anyone watching will generally already know those facts due to the publicity the case has gotten."
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.