The video was released as part of the case against now-former officer Nicholas Hanning, who is facing criminal assault charges for tasing Michael Clark, who was unarmed and mostly unclothed at the time the Taser was deployed. Although Clark answered the door with what the video described as a “shark-mouth sword,” video shows that he complied with commands to put the weapon down.
The video was released pursuant to a court order, and shared by the Clark family’s attorney, Sarah Schielke. It starts with Hanning and fellow officer Ellie Summers speaking with Clark’s neighbor, Brittany Odom, who said that Clark had banged on a shared wall between their apartments, yelling at her to “Shut the fuck up,” and then allegedly punched her in the face when she went next door to confront him. Odom said she had been sleeping at the time and not making any noise.
“He busted all of my shit, my nose, my mouth,” Odom can be heard saying, while text reading “She had no visible injuries” and “there was not a drop of blood anywhere” appears on the screen. The text on the video also says Odom was drunk at the time.
Hanning is then seen walking to the apartment next door and knocking on Clark’s door, but does not appear to identify himself as a police officer. When Clark answers, he can be heard saying “What do you want?” He is mostly unclothed, wearing only boxer shorts, and is apparently holding what police described as a weapon (a “machete”). Hanning kicks the door open, and he and Summers order Clark to put the blade down.
Clark complies, putting what turned out to be a shark-mouth sword on top of a piece of furniture behind him. He then argues with the officers, while Hanning tells him to come out of the apartment and Summers tells him to get on the ground.
“Get on the ground,” Summers orders Clark.
“No,” Clark says. “They hit that wall so hard, I thought they were going to come through the wall,” he adds, motioning in the direction of Odom’s apartment.
A moment later, as Clark stands inside his apartment, Hanning appears to discharge his Taser, hitting Clark in his midsection. Clark is seen falling backward on to the ground.
As the officers approach Clark, Summers says he’s unconscious. Video shows that a chair appeared to have fallen on Clark’s face after he was tased, and it looks like in trying to move Clark out of the apartment, the officers cause Clark’s head to hit a large piece of wood furniture.
Once the officers get Clark out of his apartment, Hanning is seen placing his knee on Clark’s neck as he lies face-down on the floor of the hallway. Then, as Summers appears to try to wake Clark up, Hanning’s bodycam video shows Hanning removing the shark-tooth sword from where Clark had previously placed it—on top of a piece of furniture inside his apartment—and dropping it in the hallway in front of another apartment.
The video also shows EMTs attending to Clark, who, after regaining consciousness, says he doesn’t know what’s going on, or why he’s being detained. He also says that the shark-tooth sword was in his apartment, and says that he did not move it. He denies having punched Odom, or anyone, and insists he was “just laying in bed.”
“I did nothing,” Clark says repeatedly, as restraints are placed on him in the stretcher.
In addition to showing the bodycam footage, the video also alleges that Odom has a criminal history that includes charges of fraud for lying to police, felony aggravated domestic assault, and attempted murder.
Clark suffered a stroke the day after the incident, according to attorney Sarah Schielke, and has since been suffering multiple health problems. Schielke says that Clark is currently in a 24-hour nursing facility.
“We knew it was going to be bad from the affidavit for Officer Hanning’s arrest,” Schielke said of the video in statement. “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.”
The Idaho Springs police department fired Hanning after an investigation into the use-of-force incident. In the July 16 statement announcing Hanning’s termination, the police description of the video matches much of what is seen, confirming that the officers had not identified themselves as police when knocking on Clark’s door, and noting that Clark was not holding a weapon at the time he was tased.
The Idaho Springs police department declined to comment on the video itself, but told Law&Crime that “the original incident, in which officers were sent to investigate, has been closed with no pending charges for any involved party.”
[Images via screengrab of video provided by Sarah Schielke]
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