Court releases records following incident with autistic man

By The Associated Press | Posted - Jan. 1, 2016 at 1:30 p.m.



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KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — The city of Kodiak said its officers acted professionally during a September incident in which an autistic man was restrained.

On Thursday, the city released video and other material involving the incident following a court order. Kodiak Public Broadcasting Co. had sued for the release of documents in the case of Nick Pletnikoff.

Video from police body cameras posted on the Kodiak Daily Mirror website shows at least one officer shouting commands at Pletnikoff while he is on the ground, and Pletnikoff saying he's sorry and asking to go home.

Pletnikoff is warned that he will get pepper-sprayed if he doesn't put his arms behind his back, and the video shows a substance being sprayed toward his face shortly after that.

Pletnikoff's mother, Judy Pletnikoff, told KMXT radio in Kodiak that her son was pepper-sprayed. She watched the video, called the escalation of the incident shocking and said she hopes her son never has to see the tapes.

A statement from the city manager's office said the city was fully complying with the judge's order to release the material, though it retained concerns about privacy rights. The statement did not include names and referenced a 29-year-old man.

In the statement, the city said the incident began when two tourists called 911 and told arriving officers a man had forced his way into their vehicle and was in the process of rifling their belongings. The call came at a time when residents were on edge over recent burglaries and break-ins, the statement reads.

The city said the man did not appear to officers to be developmentally disabled and received "minor injuries consistent with an individual resisting being handcuffed while on the ground."

When the man's mother arrived, she told police her son was autistic and often gets into neighborhood cars — a statement that was supported by another family member and a neighbor, the city said.

After officers learned the man was autistic and talked with his family, he was not charged, the city said.

The city said it received an independent investigator's report that found the officers acted professionally and within the scope of their authority and used the minimal amount of force necessary to ensure their safety and that of the community.

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The Associated Press

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