Jay Barrett and Kayla Desroches/KMXT
At the Kodiak City Council work session a couple of days ago, City Mayor Pat Branson made a statement about the case of Nick Pletnikoff, an autistic 28-year-old Kodiak man who was beaten and pepper sprayed by three Kodiak police officers over a month ago. Last night, at the Kodiak City Council regular meeting, City Manager Aimée Kniaziowski took the opportunity to read a prepared statement of her own. She couched the city’s silence in the aftermath of the incident as a personnel issue.
"I recognize and understand people’s concerns and the perceptions circulating about what happened. Some members of the community believe that the city is hiding something by refusing to release information to the public. Despite what we continue to hear, the city has not said no to the release of the information that’s been requested, and we have had several of those requests come through. But what I ask the people to remember is that we cannot release information at this time because our job is to do the right and reasonable thing for everyone involved, to find out the truth and the truth in its proper context. That means that we determined after an internal review that the incident would be turned over to an independent third party investigator.
“The investigator is working now and will issue the report and findings as well as recommendations. And when that report is issued, we’ll be able to release information to the community members. The city and the police department will take whatever steps are necessary if the report calls for specific actions. I really want to stress that. The retention of a third party investigator exemplifies the department’s dedication to protecting the public and taking the steps necessary to guarantee an objective review.
“In the meantime, I would ask the community to remember that we city employees continue to work to serve this community because we care about what we do, and we’re committed to doing it and doing it honorably. Despite current public criticism, we keep fixing roads, we provide safe water, respond to fires, provide emergency medical services throughout the road system, we provide library and information services and run our ports and harbors, and we hold elections. And, most importantly, the Kodiak police department continues to respond to emergencies, help people in need, deal with drugs and crime and violence and homelessness. They continue to do their jobs despite this criticism.
“I ask that you help us keep on serving you while we wait for the outcome of this investigation. Once it’s complete, we’ll take the actions necessary, and we will release information as soon as we can. In the meantime, we’re your neighbors, your friends and public servants. I ask you to remember that and help us as we work for you.
“You’ve probably heard me say this before, but I have faith in what we do. That includes faith in our police department. I support them and the work that they’ve been sworn to do, and I respect the risks that they take. Know that we are doing the reasonable and responsible thing at this time. Also, what we are doing and how we are handling this incident is how you’d want your employer to handle something if you’d ever been involved in an incident at your work or in the community.
“So I will ask the community’s patience and understanding as we work through this. It is difficult and we do understand people’s concerns, and we’re doing what we feel is prudent and right and fair and protecting everyone’s interests.”
That was Kodiak City Manager Aimée Kniaziowski reading from a prepared statement at last night’s council meeting. To date, the attorney representing Nick Pletnikoff has attempted unsuccessfully to obtain copies of the audio and video recordings of the incident from the City of Kodiak several times. KMXT has also submitted a Freedom of Information Act request, which the city denied. The response KMXT received from the city’s attorney was consistent with Kniaziowski’s statement that the city is not disclosing information due to the pending investigation.