See Video of Shocking Michael Clark Arrest Before Official Release

Screen captures from body-worn camera videos show Idaho Springs Police Officer Ellie Summers dragging a just-tased Michael Clark (left) and Officer Nicholas Hanning pressing his knee against Clark's neck (right).
Screen captures from body-worn camera videos show Idaho Springs Police Officer Ellie Summers dragging a just-tased Michael Clark (left) and Officer Nicholas Hanning pressing his knee against Clark's neck (right). Idaho Springs Police Department via The Life and Liberty Law Office
Former Idaho Springs Police Officer Nicholas Hanning has been charged with third-degree assault against an at-risk adult as a result of the rough May arrest of 75-year-old Michael Clark, who was tased despite being unarmed and clad only in his underwear. Clark has been hospitalized with a range of life-threatening conditions ever since. Hanning was fired from the force last week.

Body-worn camera videos of the incident have not yet been officially released by either the Idaho Springs Police Department or the 5th Judicial District DA's office. But attorney Sarah Schielke of Loveland's The Life &  Liberty Law Office, which represents Clark and his family, beat the authorities to the punch, sharing three clips that vividly depict the events that led to Clark's ongoing fight for life.

On July 13, under the provisions of a new law that went into effect earlier this month, a Clear Creek County judge ordered that authorities publicly release the body-worn camera videos no later than July 29. The delay was allowed in order to give the agencies time to blur faces in recordings captured by devices worn by Hanning and his colleague, Officer Ellie Summers. But Schielke wasn't willing to wait.

"Knowing that the district attorney would almost certainly stall until the very last day of her deadline to publicly release the videos, the family had the faces of the non-law-enforcement witnesses appearing in the videos blurred themselves to get the videos to the public as soon as possible," she notes. "Mr. Clark’s health is declining. This is urgent."

Here's how the attorney summarizes the incident leading to her client's current condition: "In the middle of the night on May 30, 2021, two Idaho Springs Police officers (Officer Nicholas Hanning and Officer Ellie Summers) banged on 75-year-old Michael Clark’s apartment door, stormed inside, attacked him, returned to the hallway, and then — while he stood unarmed and in his boxer shorts eight feet away from them in his apartment posing no cognizable threat whatsoever — they tased him. Mr. Clark lost consciousness and flew backwards from the tasing, striking his head on a dining room chair on the way down. Mr. Clark was ultimately hospitalized with heart complications, and 36 hours later had a stroke. He was never charged with any crime."

Her account contends that "in every lucid moment," Clark "has demanded the public release of the officers’ bodycam videos. The district attorney and Idaho Springs police refused and stalled, stating they wouldn’t do so until a judge told them they must. Then, while holding the videos back, they issued paired press releases, both painting Mr. Clark as some crazed assailant with a 'club-like object' tased by the officers during a mere 'physical altercation.' These press releases, released into the vacuum created by the district attorney and police chief’s withholding of the truth (the bodycam videos), devastated Mr. Clark and his family. He is a victim. He may not survive. And still, these two agencies denied him the right to tell his own story. To show the world the truth. That information monopoly ends today."

Here's a compilation of the Hanning and Summers videos:

In addition, the full Summers video can be seen here, and the full Hanning video here.

Schielke offers this review of the videos: "We knew it was going to be bad from the affidavit for Officer Hanning’s arrest. But that affidavit, it turns out, did no justice to the level of injustice seen on these videos. They need to be seen to be believed. Finally being able to view the videos has been vindicating for this family on some level, since they confirm all that Mr. Clark has said, but seeing the horrors that they contain, after fighting for so long to get them, has been traumatic in its own right. The tragic, needless abuse of this man in his own home cannot be unseen. There have been a lot of tears and a lot of anger over these past few days as the family grieves and attempts to process all the perverse abuses of power seen on these videos."

A statement attributed to Clark has also been issued: "How I was brutally attacked, and almost murdered...has really affected me in a lot of ways. The memory of how I was treated, and not just how I was treated by the police force, but also then after that by the district attorney, like I was the aggressor, that has severely affected me. Some people may wonder why I would be so set on the public release of these videos, when releasing them means that everyone I know is going to see me in my skivvies, stripped of my dignity, and assaulted in my own home. But what the world will see in these videos is not me at my worst, but a police department at their worst. I am a patriot. I love my country. There are a number of good people out there, of good police officers. These are not them. People like this should not be police. What they took from me that day, I can’t put into words. I’m going to do whatever it takes with what little time I have left to stop this from happening to anyone else ever again."

Click to read the Nicholas Hanning arrest affidavit.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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.
Contact: Michael Roberts