The attorney representing the family of Nick Pletnikoff, the autistic 28-year-old Kodiak man who was beaten and pepper sprayed by three Kodiak Police officers over a month ago is again attempting to obtain copies of the audio and video recordings of the incident from the City of Kodiak.
Kodiak attorney Josh Fitzgerald said this second letter to the city’s Anchorage attorney makes the case that the delay is causing further injury to Pletnikoff.
“Part of his recovery here and part of his ability to again feel safe is having his medical professionals analyzing the conduct of the officers, the verbal interaction between Mr. Pletnikoff and these police officers, and how they used their forces and where exactly he was injured,” Fitzgerald said. “His medical provider’s ability to really help him process this and understand how it is he can feel confident that this isn’t going to happen again has really been impeded by their refusal to provide the videos and other evidence.”
Fitzgerald’s first letter to the city was denied two weeks ago, as was KMXT’s Freedom of Information Act request for the same documents.
“I believe we got the identical letter as KMXT, as you reported. They cited a privacy concern and the fact there was an on-going investigation, which again I think has no legitimate basis when the city claims that they found that the officers acted professionally and the use was minimal and necessary,” he said. “The offensive part of that for me is that it really does imply that somehow Nick Pletnikoff deserved this violent treatment, and he just didn’t.”
In one of their very few written comments about the incident, the city said it is turning to an outside source to investigate. Fitzgerald is not so sure.
“We are certainly skeptical of that. And I think maybe the best evidence of the lack of independence there is that no one has contacted me or the Pletnikoff family to try and get Nick’s side of the story or try and hear what Judy Pletnikoff observed there on the street, or anything like that,” Fitzgerald said. “You would certainly hope that if there were any sort of ‘independent investigation’ – in quotes – they would want to get the Pletnikoff side of the story to make any kind of determination.”
Fitzgerald agrees the city’s insistence on remaining silent on the incident and denying access to these public documents might inevitably lead to a court date.
“The reason we sent this letter as opposed to formally filing suit is that the Pletnikoff’s still have hope this can still be resolved without sort of a formal civil lawsuit litigation,” he said. “It’s something that doesn’t need to go to that, but I think you’re right to say that at some point we run out of other options.”
And because of the silence out of Kodiak City Hall and the Kodiak Police Chief’s office, Fitzgerald said not a single representative has offered even a single comforting word to the family.
“The City of Kodiak has not so much as even expressed any whiff of regret. Not even saying anything along the lines of, ‘Well, knowing what we know now, we certainly regret that Mr. Pletnikoff was injured in this way and we certainly wish that it hadn’t happened.’ I don’t think there’s anyone in this town or in that police department or anywhere that can say that somehow he deserved that. He absolutely didn’t,” he said. “And for the city to fail to at least acknowledge that, again, is a barrier to Nick Pletnikoff feeling safe. It’s a barrier to him understanding that, you know what, this was a mistake, this shouldn’t have happened, this isn’t your fault, and you should be able to feel comfortable in your own personal safety in this town, especially from the police department.”
Fitzgerald’s second letter to the city’s Anchorage attorney was sent on Tuesday. As of Thursday afternoon, no response had been received.