IDAHO SPRINGS — 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, pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor assault charge in a deal in which he permanently relinquished his right to serve as a law enforcement officer in the state.
An attorney for the man’s family objected to the deal, claiming that prosecutors showed former Idaho Springs Officer Nicholas Hanning special treatment and asking the judge to consider appointing a special prosecutor to take on the case, KUSA-TV reports.
Judge Cynthia Jones conditionally accepted the plea but scheduled a January hearing to hear objections from Michael Clark’s family attorney. The charge carries a penalty of six to 24 months in jail and sentencing was also set for January.
If the judge finds a special prosecutor is needed, the plea deal would be voided.
Prosecutors denied doing Hanning any favors and cited his acceptance of responsibility as a factor in the deal.
Hanning was charged with third-degree assault on an at-risk person and fired from the department after the May 30 event.
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, which Clark later denied.
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 to both lie down and leave the apartment. Hanning then used his Taser on Clark, who fell and hit a chair, an affidavit said.
Hanning told a paramedic that he also kicked Clark in the knee and punched him in the back of the head, the 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.