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Kodiak police release video of officers' altercation with autistic man

  • Author: Jerzy Shedlock
  • Updated: July 7, 2016
  • Published December 31, 2015

The city of Kodiak on Thursday offered its version of events surrounding the rough confrontation between three police officers and a 28-year-old autistic man, releasing videos and other material that, it says, show that the officers acted appropriately when they restrained him.

The city, under court order to provide the material, said it believes the information violates the man's privacy, though it said the evidence also showed that the officers acted properly. The city wouldn't identify the man, Nick Pletnikoff, whose name was provided by his mother.

A week ago, Kodiak Superior Court Judge Steve Cole ordered the city to release videos of the September incident, rejecting its argument that privacy issues and an ongoing third-party investigation exempted the material from release.

"The city needed the clarity from Judge Cole on his interpretation of the public records laws and will comply fully with the order. However, the city continues to have serious concerns regarding the implications of the court's order on privacy rights of Kodiak's citizens, employees, and visitors," the city said in a prepared statement.

According to Judy Pletnikoff's account, her son was pepper-sprayed, handcuffed and pinned to the ground by officers when he went to check the mailbox on their quiet street.

Pletnikoff was not charged with a crime and was released, Judy Pletnikoff said. Nick continues to recover from the event; she could not immediately be reached Thursday afternoon.

Kodiak officials said they would have to mail the videos to Alaska Dispatch News, but described the content of the videos and police reports in a prepared statement emailed Thursday.

The Kodiak Police Department said officers were responding to a 911 call about someone trying to steal from a car parked on a neighborhood street. The released police reports "outline the sequence from the initial 911 call made to KPD to the end of the incident where the sergeant is explaining the circumstances and their response to a family member," according to the city.

The city says officers responded to the initial call immediately, which came at a time when residents were anxious about several recent burglaries, weapons thefts and break-ins that occurred in the area. The crimes led to an arrest involving drugs and weapons.

The city asserted Nick Pletnikoff was not assaulted. It said that two tourists called police when they said a man "forced his way into their vehicle and was in the process of rifling through their belongings." The man, later identified as Nick Pletnikoff, tried to take important travel documents from the car, the city said.

The man didn't appear developmentally disabled, the city said, and he failed to obey police commands. In the ensuing struggle with officers, the man "received minor injuries consistent with an individual resisting being handcuffed while on the ground. He was not beaten, Tased, or choked as has been alleged," according to the city.

Judy Pletnikoff told officers her son is autistic and often gets into cars in the neighborhood, a claim supported by another family member and neighbor, according to the city. A sergeant followed up on Judy Pletnikoff's assertions about Nick's autism and decided not to press charges.

The city also reported Thursday it had just received an independent investigator's report that found the officers acted professionally and used their authority appropriately, including "the minimal amount of force necessary."

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