Police in Kodiak, Alaska have been caught on camera pepper spraying an unarmed autistic man while he was pinned down on the floor.
Three officers had arrested 28-year-old Nick Pletnikoff on September 16 after reports he had forced his way into a stranger’s car and rifled through their belongings.
Bodycam footage shows Kathleen Gambling, Phillip Christman, and Sargent Francis de la Fuente struggling with the suspect who is lying on his back.
As the cops try to get Pletnikoff to roll onto his front so they can handcuff him, he begins shouting ‘I want to go home! Please.’ and ‘I’m sorry!’
One of the officers yells at him to ‘stop resisting!’ before ordering him to ‘get on your stomach now.’
He then pulls out a can of pepper spray and holds in just inches from the autistic man’s eyes.
‘Or I’ll spray you,’ he is heard to warn.
His colleague added: ‘Get your arms behind your back or you’re going to get pepper sprayed.’
Sound on the footage cuts out but the group continue to struggle until the first officer is seen on camera spraying the canister towards Pletnikoff’s face.
The video ends with the handcuffed suspect waiting to be put inside the squad car.
Petnikoff’s mother Judy later approached officer de la Fuente to explain that her son was autistic.
She claimed that her son simply liked cars and would never steal anything from within them.
He was not charged with any crime after police were informed of his condition.
Footage of the arrest was finally made public on December 31 after the shocking incident three months earlier, sparking outrage from some members of the local community.
But the officers insisted in police reports that any use of force was ‘minimal and necessary under the circumstances.’
An independent investigator agreed and ruled they had acted professionally and used ‘the minimal amount of force necessary,’ according to Alaska Dispatch News.
The incident is among a number of high profile incidents of beatings and fatal shootings which dominated the headlines last year.
Trials are still ongoing for the six officers who have been charged with the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old unarmed black man who died in the back of a police van in April 2015.
His death triggered days of riots throughout Baltimore and beyond.
Earlier last year, footage emerged of a driver who was pulled over for suspected drink driving being clubbed by two policemen as he lay on the ground.
Sean Reardon, 30, Reardon claims he was subjected to violence ‘without provocation’ and suffered acute respiratory failure and had to be put on a ventilator in hospital after the arrest. He was in ICU for 4 days. He says he also suffered multiple broken bones, including ribs, nose and sternum.
Butte County Chief deputy District Attorney claimed the officers used force to restrain Reardon. He was said to be almost twice over the legal limit for driving and had traces of methamphetamine and cocaine in his blood. Video footage of the incident, taken by a bystander, has emerged and shows the 30-year-old being repeatedly hit by an officer as he lay on the road.
In April, helicopter cameras captured police beating Francis Pusok at least 80 times after they had already tasered him. Police had tried to arrest him at his southern California and he fled on a horse – sparking a two hour chase before he fell off and was beaten.
A week before, footage emerged of unarmed black man Derek Harris, 44, being shot dead by a 74-year-old reserve deputy in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He claimed he had accidentally mistaken his hand gun for his taser and had not intended to kill Mr Harris, who was being chased by police following a sting operation.
Police officer Michael Slager was charged with murder earlier this month after video captured on a mobile phone showed him shooting Walter Scott, a coast guard veteran, in the back as he ran away. Mr Scott had been pulled over for driving with a broken tail light.
Evidence of police brutality has caused outrage in America and led to high profile protests. Hundreds of protesters wore ‘I can’t breathe’ t-shirts at a basketball match in Brooklyn in tribute to black father-of-six Eric Garner who died after being held in a fatal chokehold.