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Former Idaho Springs officer faces lawsuit for 2019 arrest of deaf man

Former Idaho Springs officer Nicholas Hanning, charged with assault after an arrest in May, faces a separate lawsuit for the 2019 arrest of a man who is deaf.

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. — A former Idaho Springs police officer who was charged with assault after an arrest in May now faces a separate lawsuit for the 2019 arrest of a man who is deaf.

The civil rights lawsuit was filed last week on behalf of Brady Mistic, who was arrested after a traffic stop in September 2019. According to the lawsuit, Mistic cannot read lips, and can only vocalize a few words. When he tried to communicate with officers using sign language, the lawsuit says, they put him in handcuffs.

"They alleged to have observed my client running a stop sign a block away from the laundromat where he was intending to go," Mistic's attorney Raymond Bryant said. "He is able to park his vehicle and actually get out of the vehicle before they stop their vehicle at all."

According to the Idaho Springs Police Department, Mistic immediately got out of his car and quickly approached a clearly marked patrol car with the emergency lights activated.

"The officers gave verbal commands for Mr. Mistic to get back into his vehicle," the department said in a statement.

During the initial encounter, the officers said they didn't know Mistic was deaf and couldn't hear their commands. 

"At one point officers attempted to gain control of Mr. Mistic by placing him into handcuffs due to his unexplained actions," the department said. "Mr. Mistic resisted the officers, and a physical altercation took place."

The lawsuit names Officer Nicholas Hanning and Officer Ellie Summers, who were both involved in the arrest. It also names the City of Idaho Springs and the Clear Creek County Board of Commissioners. 

The lawsuit claims Hanning was unnecessarily forceful, and Summers used a stun gun on Mistic twice.

"The video shows that (Mistic) was not moving at the time the officers contacted him," Bryant said. "He was standing still. He was in a place to be able to communicate if they had taken the time. He was trying to understand what was going on and to communicate. The idea that the officers needed to go hands on and use force is completely disconnected from reality."

According to an arrest narrative provided by Bryant, Hanning reported he knew an attack was imminent when Mistic was out of his car. 

The department said the former chief reviewed the incident and the officer's actions were deemed to be appropriate.

> Watch the body camera video from the arrest below. Content Warning: The video includes images that may be sensitive for some readers, including images and audio of Mistic being tackled and shot with a stun gun.

The lawsuit also says Hanning broke his own ankle during the arrest. Mistic was charged with second-degree assault on a police officer and resisting arrest, charges that were later dismissed. The district attorney allowed Mistic to participate in a diversion program.

The department said Hanning injured his leg due to the resistive actions of Mistic. The lawsuit says Hanning caused himself to break his leg.

According to Bryant, Mistic spent four months in jail for the charges.

"The fact that they levied such serious charges against him and allowed those charges to result in him being in jail for so long is shocking," he said.

The lawsuit says neither Idaho Springs police officers nor jail staff had adequate training or equipment to accommodate Mistic's hearing disabilities.

> The video below was taken on body camera after Mistic was brought to the hospital. An officer uses an interpreter to explain what happened and why Mistic is being arrested.

Hanning already faces assault charges in connection with the arrest of 75-year-old Michael Clark in May. Prosecutors said he didn't identify himself as police when he knocked on Clark's door, and deployed his stun gun 19 seconds after the man set down his weapon. Hanning has since been fired from the Idaho Springs Police Department.

Summers also responded to that call in May. Both Hanning and Summers were named in a lawsuit filed by Clark in July. Summers is still with the department.

The Idaho Springs Police Department released the following statement in response to the new lawsuit: 

"On 09/17/2019 (2 years ago) officers from the Idaho Springs Police Department performed a traffic stop on a vehicle in the 1300 block of Idaho Street for a stop sign violation at approximately 1937 hours. The driver, Brady Mistic, immediately got out of his vehicle and quickly approached a clearly marked patrol car with the emergency lights activated. The officers gave verbal commands for Mr. Mistic to get back in his vehicle. It was later determined Mr. Mistic was deaf, but this fact was not known to the officers during the initial encounter. 

"Officers then directed Mr. Mistic to sit down. At one point officers attempted to gain control of Mr. Mistic by placing him into handcuffs due to his unexplained actions.  Mr. Mistic resisted the officers, and a physical altercation took place. One of the ISPD officers was injured (broken leg) due to the resistive actions of Mr. Mistic.   

"Mr. Mistic was transported to a local hospital for evaluation. A short time later, he was cleared for detention and transported to the Clear Creek County Detention Facility where the officers charged him with Assault on a First Responder, Obstructing a Peace Officer, and Resisting Arrest. 

"The officer who suffered a serious leg‐break was former ISPD Officer Nicholas Hanning and the other officer was Officer Ellie Summers, who was in training at the time of the incident. The incident was reviewed by former Chief Christian Malanka and the officers’ actions were deemed to be appropriate. 

"The District Attorney’s Office for the 5th Judicial District ultimately allowed Mr. Mistic to participate in a Diversion Program in lieu of formal charges being filed. 

"Due to pending civil litigation there will be no further statements regarding this incident."

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