IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (KDVR) — Idaho Springs Police Officer Nicholas Hanning gave no verbal warning before he used an electric shock device on an elderly man without cause, according to arrest affidavit unsealed Tuesday.
The 35-year-old officer was placed on paid leave last week after he was charged with assault of an at-risk adult.
Hanning appeared before Clear Creek County Judge Cynthia Jones Tuesday morning. Jones ordered that the video recorded by Hanning’s and fellow officer Ellie Summers’ body cameras be released to the family of victim Michael Clark by July 28 and to the public just one day later.
Clark has been hospitalized since May 30 with multiple injuries after Hanning allegedly kicked, punched and used a stun gun on him.
What the affidavit says
According to the arrest affidavit, a neighbor named Timothy Brayden called police to Clark’s apartment complex at 10:42 p.m.
Brayden told dispatchers that his roommate, Brittany Odom, had been punched by Clark after he “banged on the wall and told her that was getting too loud….and she has been drinking.”
Odom then took over the phone call with 911 and said, “I went out there and knocked on his door. He (expletive) knocked me in my face.”
The arrest affidavit says Hanning and Summers arrived and, after speaking with Odom, knocked on Clark’s door but didn’t identify themselves as police officers.
The affidavit includes single frames of video from the officers’ body cameras that show a half-dressed Clark opening the door with a sawfish bill he grabbed of his wall for protection because, according to an interview he later gave investigators, he had no idea who was knocking on his door.
As soon as Clark opened the door and realized it was police officers, he immediately put his sawfish bill on a shelving unit, according to the affidavit. The same affidavit says that just moments later, and without commands or warning, “Ofc. Hanning fires his Taser, which strikes Clark in the abdomen and pelvic area.”
From his hospital bed, Clark would later tell an investigator that he never came out of his room to confront Odom, let alone punch her.
“A man would be a fool to go out there and confront people, uh, crazy people that are acting in an irrational manner,” Clark said in an interview with the Colorado Bureau of Investigations.
After Clark was tased, the affidavit says body-camera video shows he was knocked unconscious and fell backwards, hitting a dining room chair.
Paramedics were called, and when Clark woke up, the body-camera video shows him saying, “What’s going on? I’ve done nothing wrong. What did I do?”
Hanning replied, “You punched that girl … then you answered the door with a freaking machete, man.”
“No, that is absolutely false … I did not come after nobody … I was just in bed … I attacked nobody … I was just lying in bed … I did nothing … I did not come at anybody,” Clark responded.
According to the affidavit, Clark was then placed in an ambulance while Hanning told a paramedic, “I kicked him in the knee and punched him somewhere in the back of the head.”
Family responds: ‘Footage doesn’t lie’
Clark’s two adult children spoke to the Problem Solvers after Hanning’s court appearance Tuesday morning to say the entire incident has left them angry and beyond frustrated.
“My dad, since day one, does not understand why this happened,” Cynthia Clark saud. “He looked at me, and he said, ‘I don’t understand. I don’t understand why they did this to me. I’m a good guy. I try to do everything right. I’d give the shirt of my back to anybody, and I don’t deserve this, and I don’t understand why I’m here.'”
Cynthia’s brother, Jeremy Clark, told FOX31 he can’t begin to describe the unfairness of his father’s predicament.
“I don’t know if there’s a word in the English language. I might have to start looking at other languages to maybe find one that might be appropriate,” he said,
The two siblings have been asking for the body-camera video to be released since the day after their father was hospitalized. They said they are relieved the judge ordered the video to be released before the end of July.
“There’s different sides to every story, but footage doesn’t lie. There’s no other side. That’s the truth. That’s the way it is,” Cynthia said.
Just hours after his July 7 arrest, Hanning’s defense team asked the judge to seal the affidavit.
But Tuesday morning, defense attorney Lara Jimenez agreed to a request from prosecutors and Clark’s family to unseal the arrest affidavit. Jimenez also agreed not to oppose any effort to release the body-camera video under a new Colorado law signed by Gov. Jared Polis on July 6.
In a case where an officer is accused of misconduct, the law mandates the release of unedited police body-camera video to the family within 20 days and to the public — with witness faces blurred — in 21 days. If it’s a pending case, prosecutors can have 45 days to release the video.
But because Hanning isn’t objecting to releasing the footage, the judge ordered the video to be released in 21 days.
The police chief of Idaho Springs told FOX31 the city is still evaluating the status of Hanning’s employment.
Summers was given a written reprimand for pointing her gun at Clark without good cause.