IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (KDVR) — The attorney for a 75-year old man allegedly assaulted by an Idaho Springs police officer is demanding the release of body-camera video from the incident.
Attorney Sarah Schielke told the Problem Solvers her client Michael Clark has been hospitalized since May 30 with life-threatening injuries.
“Mr. Clark is near death. Not doing well. Any lucid moment he has, his wish is for the truth to be released about what happened,” Schielke said.
Attorney: police kicked, used stun gun
Officer Nicholas Hanning was charged July 7 with felony assault of an at-risk person.
Idaho Springs Police responded to Clark’s apartment on the night of May 30, after his female neighbor called police to say Clark had allegedly assaulted her.
But Schielke said Clark’s version is that he banged on his neighbor’s wall asking her to keep the noise down so he could go to sleep.
Schielke said Clark would later wake up to loud knocking and yelling. Not knowing it was police at his door, he answered holding the bill of a sawfish he grabbed off of his wall for self-protection.
“The individual who falsely accused him of assault — by the police reports she was too drunk to be interviewed on scene. She was also too drunk to be interviewed when the police went back the next day,” said Schielke, who believes body-camera video will show police ignored obvious red flags about the incident from the beginning.
Schielke said her client and his family deserve to see the video to know how the interaction that night led to police allegedly using a stun gun on Clark and kicking him to the point he’s now recovering at St. Anthony’s Hospital.
“Pointing a gun at him and Tasing him, it’s absolutely insane. When does the world finally get to see the video footage in this case?” asked Schielke, who requested the video from prosecutors in the Fifth Judicial District (which covers Clear Creek County) on June 17.
Defense supports video’s release
Hanning has a court appearance Tuesday morning, where a judge is expected to set bond conditions. The judge may also set a hearing to decide the issue of releasing the video.
In a statement to FOX31 after this story aired, Hanning’s defense lawyer, Lara Jimenez, said she plans to push for the video and other records to be released.
“We were extremely disappointed when we reviewed the information provided to the media by Mr. Clark’s personal attorney, Ms. Shielke; particularly because bold accusations were made that are entirely unsupported by the body camera footage and the information collected during the investigation,” Jimenez said. “In an effort to correct the record, we will be asking the judge to unseal the arrest warrant affidavit and release the applicable body camera footage during (Tuesday’s) hearing. In this case especially, my client and I both look forward to his day in court.”
District Attorney Heidi McCollum said in an interview with FOX31 last Thursday that the video the video “will absolutely be released. I think the question is when.”
McCollum has filed a motion with the judge in the case seeking guidance on when she can release the video.
New law governs body-camera video
Gov. Jared Polis signed new body-camera legislation on July 6 that went into effect upon his signature.
The measure calls for the release of body-camera video in 21 days when officer misconduct is suspected, but if it’s a pending case (like Hanning’s), the video doesn’t have to be released for 45 days.
The issue for McCollum is whether the clock starts ticking from the day of Hanning’s arrest, July 7, or the day of the incident, May 30, which was before the law took effect.
In addition, McCollum told the Problem Solvers, Officer Hanning has 21 days to request a hearing from the judge asking the video not be released. McCollum said she doesn’t want to release the video until Hanning decides if he’s going to file such a motion and a judge rules on it.
Schielke believes the law gives a judge no discretion to withhold the video from the public, and she wants prosecutors to release it immediately.
“The public interest is the most overriding thing right now. If we’re going to effect change, we need to get the videos out immediately, because the public interest in these things wanes with time. That’s the reality of it,” Schielke said.
Another officer disciplined in case
Hanning is on paid leave. Another officer, Ellie Summers, was disciplined but not criminally charged.
The police chief has declined to share what discipline Summers received, but FOX31 has filed a public records request seeking the internal affairs file for both Summers and Hannings.
Clark’s two children, Jeremy and Cynthia, provide this written statement to FOX31:
“Our dad hasn’t been able to sleep in his own bed since May 30. The Taser wrecked his heart. He’s lost everything. All independence. All happiness. 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. We beg the public and the press to join us in protesting this injustice. To join us in demanding that the affidavit for Hanning’s arrest be unsealed and the body cameras released. 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.”