Report: Police acted properly in incident with autistic man

KODIAK — An independent investigation into a physical encounter between Kodiak police officers and an autistic man has determined that the three officers responded professionally.

The city hired Soldotna-based consultant Greg Russell to investigate the Sept. 16 incident involving the officers and Nick Pletnikoff. Russell’s report, acquired by the Kodiak Daily Mirror on Monday, states that 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.

Sgt. Francis de la Fuente had responded with officers Kathleen Gambling and Phillip Christman to a report of a man breaking into a vehicle when they found Pletnikoff, who had been checking his family’s mailbox. Pletnikoff was pepper sprayed and restrained.

No charges were filed against Pletnikoff, but his mother has said he suffered physical and emotional harm from the incident, The Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.

The city released video from police body cameras and other documents related to the incident on Dec. 31 following a court order.

Former public defender Ian Kasper examined the videos and found that de la Fuente “seemed to escalate the encounter to a physical altercation very quickly.” Kasper said he thought the officers appeared more aggressive than necessary, but noted that “a court might not see this as particularly extreme or having caused great damages.”

While Russell found that the officers acted professionally, he did include recommendations for the Kodiak Police Department. He suggested a review of department policy regarding the handling of mentally ill and developmentally disabled individuals as well as further training for officers in tactical communications, use of force and development of community relations.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

A lamb-decorated headstone lays half hidden in a cemetery section in Douglas on Monday, Aug. 13, 2018. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Shaky deals from past haunt efforts to preserve Douglas cemeteries today

As volunteers struggle to clear brush at historic sites, city leaders say they have limited options.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, May 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, May 16, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Students and staff play a kickball game on the field between the Marie Drake Building and Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé on Friday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
School district leaders debate biggest needs for extra $5.2M approved by Legislature, in hope governor won’t veto it

Staff for special education and gifted students, homeschooling, paying off city loan high on list.

Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, speaks Wednesday, May 8, on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
After several deadly drownings, Alaska Legislature votes to require harbor safety ladders

Bill by Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, passes on final day of session.

Members of the Thunder Mountain High School culinary arts team prepare their three-course meal during the National ProStart Invitational in Baltimore on April 26-28. (Photo by Rebecca Giedosh-Ruge)
TMHS culinary arts team serves a meal of kings at national competition

Five students who won state competition bring Alaskan crab and salmon to “Top Chef”-style event.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 15, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read