The lawyer for 76-year-old Michael Clark said Wednesday that his family has settled a lawsuit against the Idaho Springs Police Department for $7 million. The deal comes more than a year after Clark was tased and forcefully arrested at his apartment in May 2021.
Police responded to a late night call from Clark’s neighbor, who claimed Clark hit her after a noise dispute. Body camera footage shows Idaho Springs officers Nicholas Hanning and Ellie Summers knocking on Clark’s door without announcing they are police. Clark opened the door holding what the lawsuit states was a sword “made from the bill of a sawfish.”
Hanning pulled out his taser and commanded Clark to put down the object, which he did. The officer then ordered Clark to step out of the apartment. At the same time, Summers yelled at him to lie down. When Clark did not immediately follow the commands, Hanning fired the taser without warning. Clark then fell and hit his head on a dining chair.
Clark sustained major injuries related to the tasing, including a stroke. He is still recovering and cannot live on his own anymore, according to his attorney, Sarah Schielke.
“He will never again be able to drive a car, cook himself a meal, or even take a walk down the street with his grandchildren,” Schielke said. “He is wheelchair bound and now forever dependent on his family and doctors to survive.”
The federal lawsuit, which accuses the Idaho Springs Police Department of inadequately training its officers, was filed in July 2021. The same month, Hanning was charged with assault and fired from the force. He pleaded guilty to the charge in January and was sentenced to two years of probation, 120 days of electronic home monitoring and 150 hours of community service.
Summers resigned from her position in October 2021. She was not charged with a crime.
Local officials said the settlement is not an admission of liability. In a statement, the city said it settled “for economic reasons and to bring closure to all involved.” Idaho Springs Police Chief Nate Buseck also reiterated that the officers demonstrated "poor judgement" during the arrest.
“The actions of former Officer Hanning are not reflective of the culture of our organization,” Buseck said in a statement. “ISPD is an agency that takes great pride in how we interact with our citizens and this incident was not acceptable.“
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