Man, 75, hit with Taser files federal lawsuit against police department


IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (NewsNation Now) — Michael Clark, 75, filed a lawsuit in federal court on Monday morning alleging violations of his civil rights under both the federal and Colorado constitutions after an officer used a Taser on him without warning on May 30.

The civil rights lawsuit is against former Idaho Springs Police Officer Nicholas Hanning, officer Ellie Summers, and their supervising officer, Corporal Richard Sonnenberg.

Hanning, 35, faces felony assault of an at-risk adult after investigators say he used a Taser on Clark without cause after entering his apartment during an assault investigation. Hanning was fired on July 16.

The lawsuit also accuses the officer of putting a knee on Clark’s neck and causing an injury to his carotid artery that required surgery. It says that the pressure that Hanning put on his neck after he lost consciousness after being hit with the Taser and striking a chair on the way to the ground deprived him of oxygen, prolonged his loss of consciousness and increased his risk of death.

Clark had a stroke the next day, it said.

He also filed a lawsuit against the Idaho Springs Police Department for what he said is their failures to train and supervise these officers, as well as Idaho Springs’ unconstitutional practices and policies that made the officers’ assault on him not just possible, but likely.

Clark’s attorney, Sarah Schielke, shared this statement with NewsNation affiliate KDVR:

“These officers committed assault, burglary and kidnapping on Mr. Clark. It’s all on video. And yet only Hanning is charged with one low-level felony. Brittany Odom is charged with no crimes.” Ms. Schielke continues, “Beyond the reckless indifference to Mr. Clark’s rights detailed in this lawsuit, I want to highlight something additionally horrific that went on here. Ms. Odom is seen on these bodycam videos making multiple threats on Mr. Clark’s life to police, and neither Chief Buseck nor elected district attorney Heidi McCollum, who have had the videos for the past 10 weeks, ever attempted to warn Mr. Clark that his life was in danger. They did not inform him of the threats. They did not obtain a protection order on his behalf. They did not even alert the apartment’s property manager. Instead, they kept the videos from Mr. Clark and his family. They took no steps to protect him from Ms. Odom, who, in addition the repeated declarations we see her make on video stating she would kill Mr. Clark, also has a violent criminal history that includes an aggravated assault charge for stabbing a man in the neck. How could so many individuals at so many levels of government fail so repeatedly and deliberately to execute their duties to keep this innocent, elderly man safe? It is a culture of recklessness, indifference and self-protectionism. And sadly, as the events of this case illustrate – it goes all the way to the top. With this lawsuit and everything else he has left, Mr. Clark intends to put an end to it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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