Former Idaho Springs police officer Nicholas Hanning has been sentenced to 120 days of electronic home monitoring and two years of supervised probation for deploying a stun-gun against then-75-year-old Michael Clark on May 30.
Hanning will also be required to complete 150 hours of public service and complete an anger management course. He will also have to pay restitution, although the amount hasn't been determined yet.
Hanning has given up his peace officer's certification and can never serve in law enforcement again.
During the Jan. 27 sentencing, Judge Cynthia Jones said that jail time would've been appropriate in the case, but she wanted to avoid additional inmates in the jail because of COVID-19 spread. She also pointed out that a jail sentence is something Clear Creek County taxpayers would pay for, while Hanning's electronic home monitoring costs will fall on him.
“You've already cost this community a fair bit, in trust,” Jones told Hanning. “The damage to that trust in local law enforcement is something we can't measure, but it's been significant. Let's not cost our taxpayers anymore.”
On May 30, Hanning and another ISPD officer responded to Clark's Idaho Springs home for a reported assault. Clark was standing in his doorway, unarmed, and complaining about his loud neighbors when Hanning deployed the stun-gun.
ISPD later terminated Hanning. Meanwhile, Michael Clark has suffered serious health complications, including loss of mobility and difficulty speaking.
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At the sentencing, Hanning described how he deeply regretted his actions and was taking responsibility. He apologized to Michael Clark, his family and the larger community.
“I know my actions have had a tremendous impact on (the Clarks') lives, and it will last a lifetime for them,” he said. “ … I breached (the community's) trust and tarnished the badge I once wore.”
`I can never unsee that'
During the Jan. 27 sentencing, Michael Clark's attorney and family members had asked the court to give Hanning the maximum penalty of two years in jail.
They described how Hanning destroyed Michael Clark's life in 19 seconds, and he's suffered from that for 242 days and counting.
His children, Jeremy Clark and Cynthia Flageolle, noted how, after hitting their father with a taser, Hanning stepped over him while he was unconscious and bleeding.
“I can never unsee that,” Jeremy Clark said of the May 30 body camera footage. “… It shows (Hanning's) true character and what he's capable of. Without the body camera footage from that night, we would be here for my father instead of Officer Hanning.”
Flageolle described how her parents adopted her and her brother in May 1987, and it's since become a special month when they celebrate their “family anniversary.”
Instead of celebrating, Flageolle said her family spent Memorial Day weekend “going to the hospital to watch our father fight for his life.”
Michael Clark's life has been ruined. His independence and freedom have been taken away, she continued, as he now needs 24-hour care.
“He relives (May 30) every day; he will always be reminded of that night,” she continued. “ … Please help restore his faith and our faith that this system isn't completely broken.”
Sarah Schielke, Michael Clark's attorney, emphasized Hanning's annual Taser training stated Tasers shouldn't be used on the elderly because of increased risk of health complications and death.
Defense attorney Lara Jimenez described how Hanning was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder on May 30. She said this wasn't an excuse, but she wanted to provide context and prove the incident “didn't just happen in a vacuum.”
Hanning, a Marine Corps veteran, has been vilified in the media, in the community and by his former department, she stated. But, despite all that, he hasn't become bitter or angry. He's taken the opportunity to reinvent himself and found employment as a truck driver after he was terminated by ISPD, Jimenez continued.
She asked the court to consider his employment, his five children, and his family when determining his sentence.
Jones admitted that Hanning abused the public's trust and didn't rely on his training, as evidenced by the body camera footage.
However, Jones said she also must consider the best course for rehabilitation. she noted the low likelihood of re-offense, and that Hanning has a good support group of friends and family. She also directed Hanning to complete whatever treatment was recommended for his PTSD.
In addressing Michael Clark's family, Jones hoped that the case's conclusion would help them move forward in a positive way.
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