A 75-year-old man is suing the city of Idaho Springs and three of its police officers over an incident during which an officer fired a Taser at him without warning and placed a knee on the back of his neck while he laid unconscious.
Michael Clark filed the federal lawsuit Monday alleging two of the Idaho Springs officers, Ellie Summers and Nicholas Hanning, used excessive force when they contacted him in his apartment the night of May 30.
A third officer, Richard Sonnenberg, is named in the suit for allegedly failing to properly train the officers and to allow the officers to continue working, despite histories of complaints against them.
“Mr. Clark enjoyed a rich, happy, independent life prior to this event,” the lawsuit states. “On May 30, 2021, that life was recklessly and deliberately obliterated by the Idaho Springs Police Department.”
Clark remained in a 24-hour nursing facility on Monday due to the injuries the officer inflicted upon him, the lawsuit states.
Hanning and Summers knocked on Clark’s door without announcing themselves on May 30 after a neighbor reported he had punched her in the face over a noise complaint. Clark has not been charged with a crime in connection to the alleged assault.
Clark answered the door holding a saw-tooth sword but put it away after speaking with the officers. Hanning fired the Taser at Clark without warning body camera footage shows, and later placed his knee on the back of Clark’s neck while handcuffing the unconscious man.
Clark suffered heart complications due to the incident, according to the lawsuit, including blood clotting and a stroke.
Hanning was fired from the Idaho Springs Police Department four days after he was charged with assault in connection with the May 30 incident. Summers remained employed by the department.
The lawsuit alleges Summers and Hanning created “a wild, frenetic, echo chamber of escalation” instead of de-escalating the situation.
“Defendants’ sudden seizure and violent extended assault upon Mr. Clark caused him to experience great physical pain, injury and terror,” the lawsuit states. “The experience of this event caused and continues to cause Mr. Clark trauma and emotional distress, along with lasting physical injuries which suddenly and abruptly stole from Mr. Clark his most prized possession as an elderly, widowed adult: his independence.”
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