Ex-Cop Nicholas Hanning Pleads Guilty to Using Taser on 75-Year-Old Man, Causing Stroke

Nicholas Hanning, a former Colorado police officer, pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor assault charge for using his Taser on 75-year-old Michael Clark.

A condition of Hanning's plea deal is that he can no longer work as a law enforcement officer in the state.

Hanning was working as an Idaho Springs officer on May 30 when he and another officer went to Clark's apartment due to allegations that he punched a neighbor in the face, which Clark denied.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit that included bodycam images, Hanning used his Taser on Clark after he refused separate commands to lie down and to leave his apartment. He also later told a paramedic that he kicked Clark in the knee and punched the back of his head.

In a report by CBS Denver, Clark's lawyer said the incident "caused [Clark] heart complications, followed by a stroke, followed by carotid surgery on his neck where he was choked, followed by a burst appendix."

His family said Clark has spent months in the hospital and cannot do tasks like feeding himself anymore.

Judge Cynthia Jones conditionally accepted Hanning's plea but also set up a hearing in January for objections from Clark's family attorney, who claims the former officer received special treatment.

Idaho Springs, Colorado
A former Idaho Springs, Colorado, police officer pleaded guilty to using his Taser on a 75-year-old man, causing him a host of health issues. Above, the Western-style downtown of the gold mining town of Idaho Springs in the spring of 2009. Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

Prosecutors denied doing Hanning any favors and cited his acceptance of responsibility as a factor in the deal.

The Clark family's attorney asked the judge to consider appointing a special prosecutor to take on the case, KUSA-TV reported.

The charge carries a penalty of six to 24 months in jail and sentencing was set for January.

If the judge finds a special prosecutor is needed, the plea deal would be voided.

Nicholas Hanning, Colorado, police officer
This undated photo provided by the 5th Judicial District Attorney's Office shows Nicholas Hanning, a former Colorado police officer who used a Taser on a 75-year-old man without warning, requiring the man to be taken to the hospital. Hanning pleaded guilty on December 9, 2021, to a misdemeanor assault charge. File/The 5th Judicial District Attorney's Office via AP

According to police body camera footage and court documents, Hanning and another officer knocked on the door to Clark's apartment without announcing they were officers. A 30-year-old woman who had just moved in next door had accused Clark of punching her in the face.

Clark opened the door, yelling, "What do you want?" and Hanning forced him into a wall, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Clark was holding what his attorney said was a collectible sword made from a sawfish snout and put it away but refused repeated police commands. Hanning then used his Taser on Clark, who fell and hit a chair, an affidavit said.

Within days, Clark was hospitalized for a stroke and other health problems, according to Clark's family lawyer, Sarah Schiekle.

Police originally said Clark and the officer got into an altercation before the Taser was used but later said Hanning initiated the altercation and that Clark put down a sword-like weapon when asked to do so.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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