City reviews Nome police action in arrest at bar break
An arrest for disorderly conduct at bar closing in the early morning hours of Sunday resulted in a review by the City if police conducted themselves properly as pepper spray and two taser shots were deployed to force a resisting person to comply with police orders.
The incident began with two Nome Police officers responding to a woman’s report of her being harassed in front of the BOT on Front Street. According to body cam footage reviewed by The Nome Nugget, responding NPD officer Jonathan Jachim was via hand gesture from a woman in front of the BOT directed to an individual with a bottle in hand. Officer Jachim contacted the intoxicated man who, on the officer’s demand, emptied his bottle of alcohol. As the officer walked away to get a statement from the woman, the shattering of glass was heard and the officer directed his attention again to the man and detained him.
As the officer tried to get the man’s name, another man appeared, asking the officer why he’s detaining the man. “What has he done?” the man asked repeatedly. “What is his crime? What has he done?” The man, later identified as Milan Schield, kept questioning the police officer and didn’t back off as directed by the officer. In the meantime, the intoxicated man was taken by another officer to the police cruiser parked across the street. The discussion between Schield and the officer continued until the officer gave him a disorderly conduct warning. By that time, other bystanders encouraged Schield to let it be, but to no avail.
The officer then told Schield that he is under arrest for disorderly conduct and directed him to put his hands behind his back. A physical shuffling ensued and the body cam was knocked off the officer’s harness. By then people gathered outside the BOT and witnessed the scene. It was audible that Schield repeatedly asked the arresting officer what he had done and to leave him alone. The body cam was picked up and after a series of erratic images, it showed Schield on the ground and the officers deploying pepper spray, which had no immediate effect as Schield still resisted arrest.
An officer is seen deploying a taser and the second officer managed to put Schield’s left hand in handcuffs. The officer than sent a second taser shot and the officer kneeling on Schield’s buttocks put the right hand in handcuffs. The crowd that had gathered erupted in screams and uproar. Some people yelled, “He can’t breathe.”
A second body cam reviewed showed the perspective from Sgt. Alex Le, who had arrived as backup. The body cams showed that Schield laid on the ground for a few minutes, a person came outside from the BOT and tended to him, directing the crowd to back away; Schield was stood up and held up by two people while a third one washed the pepperspray off his face.
Footage also showed a person who told officers that he has been there from the beginning of the incident, which lasted about 38 minutes, and that he heard that Schield was repeatedly asked to back off. The body cams footage included conversations between officers and friends of Schield who asked if it was necessary that Schield was tasered to which officers responded that he didn’t comply with the officer’s demands to stay out of the investigation of the person they detained first. Conversation revealed that Schield had been tasered before and has had prior interactions with NPD.
A fourth officer arrived on scene to assist with the visibly upset crowd until the Nome Volunteer Ambulance Department arrived. When the ambulance arrived, Schield was taken inside the ambulance and the taser barbs were removed. The ambulance then took Schield to NSHC, he was cleared by a doctor and then taken to AMCC, from where he was later released.
NPD charged Schield with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and three counts of violating conditions of release that included not to possess or consume alcohol and not to enter bars.
NPD Chief Mike Heintzelman is on vacation, and Deputy Chief Robert Pruckner, in agreement with Nome City Manager Glenn Steckman, made the body cam footage available for review to the press.
Pruckner said that the incident is under review by NPD. “We will review this incident from beginning to the end and we will review all body cams,” he said. He added, “We need to communicate better, but we also need the public to understand that they need to comply [to officer’s directives].”
City Manager Glenn Steckman said the actions of the police officers met the standard protocol. “But that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved,” he said. In Monday’s Council meeting he brought up the incident and said the City aims to be transparent. “The City is preparing to release the body cam footage,” he said. “We just need to figure out what platform to put it on.”