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75-Year-Old Man Sues Colorado City After Getting Tased, Pinned to Ground By Police

— July 27, 2021

Body camera footage shows an Idaho Springs officer tasing 75-year-old Michael Clark, who was–at the time–standing half-naked in his doorway, unmoving, and clearly unarmed.

A 75-year-old man has filed a lawsuit against a Colorado city, claiming that several Idaho Springs police officers tased him without warning and then pinned him to the ground by his neck while he was already unconscious.

According to The Denver Post, the lawsuit was filed in federal court by Michael Clark on Monday.

Clark’s complaint names as defendants the city of Idaho Springs and two of its officers, identified as Ellie Summers and Nicholas Hanning. Both Summers and Hanning responded to a call at Clark’s apartment on May 30th, and are accused of using excessive force after contacting him.

Summers and Hanning, notes the Post, were investigating a complaint that Clark had punched a neighbor in the face for filing a noise complaint against him.

When the officers arrived to Clark’s residence, he answered the door holding a sword. However, Clark put the weapon away after speaking to officers.

Image of a taser
A Taser; image courtesy of Junglecat via Wikimedia Commons,

Body camera footage of the incident shows both officers giving Clark conflicting commands, telling him to simultaneously “back up” and “get out here.”

While Clark is standing is stock-still, half-naked and with his arms at his side, Hanning pulled the trigger on his Taser. Once Clark hit the floor, unconscious, Hanning pinned him to the ground, driving his knee into Clark’s neck.

Clark allegedly suffered heart complications due to the incident.

A third officer, Richard Sonnenberg, is named as a co-defendant. While Sonnenberg did not interact with Clark, he allegedly failed to provide Summers and Hanning adequate training.

Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that Sonnenberg should have taken disciplinary action against the other two officers, who have numerous excessive force 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, says The Denver Post, was so badly injured by the officers’ assault that he has to live in a 24-hour assisted-care facility since.

While Hanning was fired by the Idaho Springs Department several days after the incident, Sonnenberg remains in its employ.

“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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