No Jail Time For Former Idaho Springs Officer Nicholas Hanning Who Tased Unarmed 75-Year-Old
CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - A former Idaho Springs Police Officer will face two years probation, 120 days of ankle monitoring, 150 hours of community service and anger management classes for tasing a 75-year-old man wearing only his boxers in his own apartment. The man's family is "disgusted" by the sentencing decision Thursday.
Nicholas Hanning, who was a police officer for Idaho Springs at the time of the incident, but has since been fired, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge in December for the tasing incident. Hanning was initially charged with a felony assault against an at-risk adult charge, but the charge was reduced in a plea agreement.
Hanning tased 75-year-old Michael Clark last spring while he was unarmed and in his boxers.
Police were called to Clark's apartment complex on May 30, after a neighbor claimed an older man living next door hit her.
When officers knocked on Clark's door, he answered with a long, saw-tooth knife in hand, saying he didn't know it was the police at his door.
Body camera video shows police did not announce themselves when knocking, and did not stand in view of Clark's peephole.
In the video, Clark put the weapon down when asked, but when he would not get on the ground when police demanded, Hanning tased him.
Following the tasing incident, Clark's family says he suffered a stroke, which resulted in serious brain injury. His family says he now needs 24-hour care.
Clark's family wanted Hanning to receive the maximum punishment -- 2 years in jail -- but even the Clear Creek Deputy district attorney, who prosecuted the case, did not advocate for that.
Instead, the Deputy DA said he believes Hanning made an honest mistake.
"It really was a tragic error and mistake on Hanning's behalf," said Clear Creek County Deputy DA Steve Potts in court Thursday afternoon.
Potts went on to emphasize there was no favoritism shown to Hanning during the prosecution of his assault charge. That's an assertion the Clark family and Clark's attorney don't buy.
"I didn't hear a prosecutor in there, what I heard were two defense attorneys," said Sarah Schielke, Michael Clark's attorney. "I have never seen in my life a district attorney get up at sentencing and speak on behalf of the defendant he just prosecuted. That was bizarre, unsettling and I am still practically speechless, at the audacity of this district attorney's office to not even request a day of jail."
In court Hanning apologized to the Clark family and to the community for breaching the public trust.
"I know my actions should have and could have been better... I know my actions were unlawful, that's why I took responsibility in this case and pled guilty," Hanning said. "I tarnished the badge I once wore."
Clark's attorney played a video statement from Clark during the Thursday hearing.
"My life's been taken away from me, I've fought hard to be able to walk, to be able to function," Clark said. "With everything that's happened, I never gave up, and I will not give up."
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