The City of Kodiak has settled a lawsuit with the family of an autistic man who was pepper sprayed by a Kodiak Police officer in 2015.
The Pletnikoff family first filed suit in Kodiak Superior Court against the city in 2016. Body cam footage captured the encounter between now 30-year-old Nick Pletnikoff and three police officers.
The officers arrived at the scene after a pair of tourists, a father and son, called 9-1-1 when they saw Pletnikoff nearby their car and believed he was attempting to break in. According to family attorney Josh Fitzgerald, Pletnikoff was returning home with his family’s mail.
The footage shows officers forcing Pletnikoff to the ground and Sgt. Francis de la Fuente pepper-spraying him in the face in response to what he saw as resistance. De la Fuente said he did not know Pletnikoff was autistic at the time. However, one officer at the scene was acquainted with Pletnikoff, knew had special needs and addressed Pletnikoff by name during the encounter.
The settlement amount was $265,000.
Nick’s mother and guardian, Judy Pletnikoff, says she’s glad the legal battle is over, but she didn’t get what she set out for.
“Money is what we did not want. And I walked into the lawyer’s office first day saying we don’t want anything but an apology. We want to sit down with the city in good faith and have a conversation about what happened and how we can move on from here.”
KMXT reached out to the city manager and city attorney and did not receive a response by deadline. However, city attorney Bill Ingaldson did tell the Kodiak Daily Mirror newspaper that the city settled partly because it was concerned a jury would not understand the police officers’ point of view.