Nick Pletnikoff. Photo via Kodiak Tags
Last Wednesday evening, a little after 5 o’clock, 28-year-old Nick Pletnikoff went down his street to check the mailbox. As a young man with autism, it’s one of the few unsupervised tasks in his day that he’s comfortable doing. At some point on his short trip, three as-yet unidentified Kodiak Police officers arrived, and, for as-yet unknown reasons, took him down to the ground and pepper-sprayed him while handcuffed.
Judy Pletnikoff, worried that her son hadn’t returned from the mail box, went outside to find a number of emergency vehicles, and found Nick handcuffed, bloodied and bruised. Like any mother, she wanted to know what happened.
“I didn’t get any answers, and I asked maybe three or four times who had their hands on his neck,” she said. “But he had been pepper sprayed and he was crying and he said, ‘I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.’”
Judy Pletnikoff demanded the handcuffs be removed and pressed the police officers for an explanation to the situation.
“I said, ‘Why did you do this?’ And they said, ‘He would not answer our questions.’ And I said, ‘He has autism. He would really struggle to answer your questions. He lives right there,’” she said “And I saw they had his ID and could see where he lived.”
Judy Pletnikoff said a Kodiak Fire Department medic wanted to take Nick to the emergency room in the ambulance, but she didn’t want her son to be further traumatized.
“So I let the medic come in and we got him showered and showered and showered. He was in an extremely large amount of pain,” she said. “He was bleeding, bruised, and thouroughly sprayed. Just bright red and burning. My hands burned just putting my arm around him.”
Kodiak defense attorney Josh Fitzgerald, working with Angstman Law Office of Bethel, has been retained to investigate the incident for the Pletnikoff family.
“We think that these three officers that had him down on the ground and then pepper sprayed him were likely not justified in doing that. We think think that there aren’t facts that support that kind of conduct,” Fitzgerald said. “But, we are waiting to see the video, which we understand has been preserved, and audio recordings and things that were at the scene, but we think that this young man did not deserve to be injured at all, and certainly not in the way that he was.”
The Kodiak Police Department issued a brief statement on the incident Monday evening. It is detailed in a separate story.