Kodiak to pay $265K to end suit over autistic man’s arrest
KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — Kodiak officials have agreed to pay $265,000 to an autistic man who was forcibly detained and pepper-sprayed by police.
The city is settling the lawsuit filed in February 2016 by the guardians of 30-year-old Nicholas Pletnikoff, who said police were negligent and used excessive force, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported Friday.
Pletnikoff was apprehended in September 2015 after Kodiak officers responded to a 911 call from tourists, saying that a man was attempting to break into their rental car.
Pletnikoff had “approached an occupied, parked vehicle, reached into the vehicle and attempted to take some papers from it,” an attorney for the city wrote in court filings. He grabbed an envelope inside the car and “would not listen” after being told to stop, the out-of-state visitors told police.
Police body-camera footage shows the officers taking Pletnikoff to the ground and struggling to handcuff him, leading to an officer using pepper spray on Pletnikoff at close range.
Pletnikoff is interested in cars, and neighbors are accustomed to him sometimes reaching into cars to adjust sun visors, according to the lawsuit. Officers did not understand his disability and assaulted him, causing physical injury and emotional and psychological harm, the lawsuit said.
“Being a person who is attentive to certain kinds of details and very much likes everything to be in place, Nick would have taken notice of the unfamiliar car parked in that space,” Dr. John McEachin, of the Autism Partnership, wrote in a psychological report commissioned by the plaintiffs.
The police department conducted an internal review of the encounter, finding that officers’ actions were necessary under the circumstances.
Kodiak city manager Mike Tvenge declined to comment last week, referring comments to the city’s attorney, William Ingaldson.
The city maintained that officers’ conduct was appropriate, but the encounter was “really unfortunate,” Ingaldson said.
Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com