IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– Former Idaho Springs Police Officer Nicholas Hanning pleaded guilty to third-degree assault in the May 30 arrest of Michael Clark. It’s part of a plea agreement reached with the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Hanning was fired in July of 2021 following the incident in which he’s accused of getting violent with the 75-year-old man.
The judge in the case said on Thursday, “I am going to accept the plea deal” but with the condition that the court would first hold a hearing on a motion from Clark’s lawyer to have a special prosecutor appointed to the case. If a special prosecutor is appointed, the judge said the plea deal would be vacated.
As part of the plea agreement, Hanning agreed to not work in law enforcement in the state of Colorado. The judge said pleading guilty to a 3rd degree misdemeanor assault charge would also likely disqualify him from working as a police officer in other states, as well.
When the judge asked Hanning, “Tell me what you did,” Hanning replied, “I tased Mr. Clark when I shouldn’t have.”
Hanning had faced one charge of third degree assault on an at-risk adult, which is a class 6 felony.
Clark’s family was visibly upset during the court proceeding, claiming that the older adult has spent months in the hospital and can no longer do the things he used to do, like feed himself.
His family believes the plea deal is a slap on the wrist, and believes the Clear Creek County District Attorney showed favoritism toward Hanning in offering him the deal.
Clark, 75, has filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming violations of his civil rights under both the federal and Colorado constitutions by Hanning, another officer and their supervisor Cpl. Sonnenberg. He is also suing the City of Idaho Springs for their unconstitutional practices and polices regarding use of force as well as ongoing failures to supervise and train officers to prevent those catastrophic events.
Hanning said Clark was armed with a sword-like weapon and refused to drop it on May 30. Images from Hanning’s body-worn camera show Clark had put down the weapon before he was tased. And Clark’s lawyer claims Hanning also choked, kicked and punched him.
Clark’s lawyer says the assault “caused him heart complications, followed by a stroke, followed by carotid surgery on his neck where he was choked, followed by a burst appendix.”
Hanning’s arrest affidavit was released in July and included images from his bodycam and the camera worn by a second officer.
“We agree with public sentiment in this case, that police officers need to be held accountable for their actions. As part of the guilty plea entered by Defendant Hanning today, he will be stripped of his ability to ever again work in law enforcement in the State of Colorado, and will be further
subject to a potential jail sentence of up to 24 months if the court deems appropriate,” said Heidi McCollum, District Attorney, in a statement.
Sentencing has been scheduled for Jan. 27, 2022. Bond will continue until that time.
Below are two video statements, from Michael Clark in the hospital, that were played in court before the judge’s plea deal decision. Clark asked the judge not to grant the plea deal.