Soldotna man claims Alaska State Trooper used excessive force, AST disagrees

Soldotna man Bob Bodell was tased, maced, and struck twice during a melee with a rookie trooper
Soldotna man claims Alaska State Trooper used excessive force, AST disagrees
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 7:55 PM AKDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2022 at 5:54 PM AKDT
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SOLDOTNA, Alaska - Robert “Bob” Bodell was 71 years old in January 2021 when he claims a rookie Alaska State Trooper tased, maced, and struck him, after exercising his right to remain silent.

The physical altercation happened after Trooper Brian Glenn approached him in an SUV that had run out of gas in the middle of the night in rural Soldotna. Bodell claims he notified Glenn that he chose to stay behind while his two friends walked to his house to get gas, and he assured Glenn they’d be returning soon to fuel up the vehicle.

However, the Department of Public Safety, which oversees state troopers, claims things quickly escalated from there and Bodell became the aggressor, while trooper Glenn was simply doing his job.

The event happened on a cold January night, close to midnight on the Sterling Highway in rural Soldotna. Eric Haddock and his wife Kaydee were driving Bodell home when Haddock’s SUV ran out of gas. That left the three of them stranded.

Haddock managed to get his vehicle off the roadway and park at the end of a long private driveway. He and his wife say they heard dogs barking and saw someone inside the home come to the window, so Haddock used his cell phone as a flashlight to signal that they were fine and would be right back. Haddock says he assumed the residents understood.

“Didn’t see anybody move or anything, just heard loud dogs, so I decided to point at the vehicle and point where I was going and then I walked away,” Haddock said.

Bodell said that due to prior injuries, he chose to remain inside the SUV while Haddock and his wife left on foot to get gas. However, the people inside the house at the end of that dark driveway soon called 911 to report the incident. Krystofer Fenn, a relative of one of the homeowners, contacted local authorities.

“There’s suspicious flashlight activity at the end of our driveway, our dog is going crazy,” Fenn said on the 911 call.

Glenn, a recently recruited state trooper, was dispatched to the call. Glenn had graduated from the Alaska Law Enforcement Training Academy six months prior and was working alone that night. Glenn’s assigned cruiser was equipped with a dashcam but it was reportedly out of service so he was driving another cruiser without a dashcam that night.

He did have a device to record audio. When Glenn arrived to find Bodell sitting in the passenger seat of the SUV, his audio was not recording.

According to the Department of Public Safety’s operating procedures manual, under General Guidelines for Proper Use of Digital Recording Devices, section 222.210 (A) and (B), “while on duty, officers shall make every effort to digitally record their interactions with the public during traffic enforcement, citizen complaints, arrests ... Officers shall begin recording as soon as practical during a given situation and continue to record until the completion of the event, to include the recording of statements. Activating the digital recording prior to contacting the public is recommended.”

But the audio recording in Bodell’s case began sometime after things had already begun to get heated. The recording begins with trooper Glenn sternly telling Bodell, “I’m not asking.”

Soon after, Glenn informs Bodell he’s issuing him a disorderly conduct warning. That’s when Bodell asked, “What am I being charged with?”

Glenn responds, “Right now, you’re not being charged with anything. Right now I’m just talking to you, okay?”

Bodell claims, at that point, he had already told Glenn who he was, where he lived, how he had suffered a prior head injury, and that he didn’t have a driver’s license. However, Glenn’s affidavit of the events that night state Bodell “refused to provide one or identify himself.”

Glenn also reported smelling alcohol and spotting a bottle of Fireball cinnamon whiskey in Bodell’s jacket pocket, which he later logged as evidence. Although Bodell says he was a passenger in the vehicle, he claims Glenn kept insisting he was the one driving. In addition, Bodell says Glenn didn’t believe he was waiting for his friends to get gas.

“Right now it sounds to me like you’re lying to me, okay,” Glenn then told Bodell. “Oh, some people are just walking down the street, you know, giving me a ride. Except that there’s nobody walking down the street.”

At that point, Bodell grew angry and began spouting profanities at the trooper. He managed to use his cell phone to call Haddock on his cell phone, which he then handed to the trooper so he could verify his story. Glenn spoke with Haddock, who did confirm he and his wife were walking to Bodell’s place to get some gas. After finishing the call, Glenn radioed for help finding the couple.

“Any units in the area, there is two individuals passing the old KSRM, one of them’s claiming to be the driver of this vehicle,” Glenn said over his radio.

Bodell suspected Glenn was attempting to make a driving under the influence case, so he decided to keep both his mouth and the car door shut. Glenn is heard tapping on the window and asking, “Sir, sir, I’m going to need you to open the door for a minute, okay?”

Bodell says after Glenn verified his story, he expected the trooper to leave him alone, but says that didn’t happen,

“He wouldn’t let me exercise my right to remain silent,” Bodell said.

Within minutes, the situation becomes chaotic. Bodell loses his temper and curses at the trooper. Glenn responds, “If you make any more noise, raise your voice, act a fool, okay, you’re going to be arrested for disorderly conduct.”

During the next couple of minutes, Glenn’s audio captures the sounds of Bodell cursing at him as he orders Bodell to get on the ground multiple times.

“On the ground now. Get on the ground now,” Glenn said.

“F*** you b****,” Bodell said.

“On the ground now,” Glenn said.

“F*** you b****,” Bodell repeated.

“Soldotna ... Taser and spray deployed. Get on the ground now. On the ground now,” Glenn screamed.

“Shoot me mother******,” Bodell said. “I’ve got f****** cancer mother******* the best thing you can do is f****** kill me.”

“Get on the ground now. On the ground now,” Glenn repeated. “Do not f****** move. On your stomach, on your stomach.”

During the melee, Glenn attempts to tase Bodell but it has little effect, due to the heavy clothing Bodell was wearing. A hissing sound of mace being sprayed is then heard and Bodell screamed as the trooper struggled to bring him to the ground.

The incident report confirms Bodell was tased twice, maced, and struck in the head and face by trooper Glenn before being taken to the ground and handcuffed.

“You’re under arrest for assault in the fourth degree and disorderly conduct,” Glenn tells Bodell.

Soon, paramedics arrived to assess Bodell’s condition. Several troopers also showed up and their audio recordings detailed what happened in the moments afterward. One medic is heard relaying Bodell’s condition to Sgt. Joseph Miller, and then questions Bodell’s overall health.

“Just so you know he has no complaints, but he does have a little bit of a busted face,” the medic said. “I have no idea if he has got any underlying health conditions, I would imagine.”

Glenn then questions Miller about whether Bodell needs additional medical attention prior to transporting him to jail.

“I’ve got to take him down to the hospital to get him a medical clear, huh,” Glenn asks.

“No, not necessarily,” Sgt. Miller replies. “What’s wrong with him? He got a little friggin’ nosebleed. Who gives a sh**?”

Bodell feels troopers cared more about making an arrest than they did about his injuries.

“They had my face down in the snow there, and they never took me to the hospital for being knocked unconscious,” Bodell said. “They didn’t take me to the hospital for that.”

Trooper Jacob Barker responded to Glenn’s call for assistance to locate Haddock and his wife. Dashcam footage indicates Barker’s cruiser reached speeds of 75 mph as he sped through downtown Soldotna. The odometer shows he hit even higher speeds, up to 97 miles per hour at times. Barker’s high rate of speed lasted for seven minutes as he maneuvered along dark, snow-covered roadways, and never once turned on his flashing overhead lights to alert citizens that he was in pursuit.

The frantic search to find a couple walking down the road to get gas without using overhead lights violated the Department of Public Safety’s Standard Operating Procedures, according to Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell.

“He was in violation of our policy by not having his overheads and sirens there,” Cockrell said.

Barker eventually located Haddock and Kaydee walking along the side of the road. Barker then begins questioning Haddock, but minutes later, he appears to begin interrogating him.

“How much have you had to drink tonight?” Barker asks.

“I had a beer, like early, early early early,” Haddock responded.

“Well, I’m smelling a lot of alcohol coming off of you,” Barker said.

Haddock then informs the trooper, “My wife’s been drinking all night.”

“Okay, well, just from what I’m smelling, I’m going to say a beer isn’t honest,” Barker said. “There was a report of you having an alcohol bottle on you.”

“No alcohol,” Haddock replied.

Despite the fact Haddock was far away from his vehicle, he agreed to a field sobriety test. That’s when trooper recruit Joseph Robles stepped in to conduct the test. Robles had graduated from the Alaska Law Enforcement Training Academy two months prior.

“When did you have your first drink tonight?” Robles asked.

“When did I have my only drink?” Haddock said. “Gosh, around four.”

After completing a number of physical and mental exercises, Haddock passes. Dashcam footage shows Robles then stepping aside to consult another trooper.

“In this situation, would I be able to use a PBT to see if he has any alcohol in him?” Robles asked.

A PBT is a preliminary breath test, similar to a breathalyzer, used to measure the alcohol concentration in a person’s breath. The trooper then advises Robles, “So, there isn’t an arrest anyway right? So what’s the PBT matter?”

Robles responds, “I guess it doesn’t really, (because) I have to make my decision before that. It’s just to confirm. Okay, sh**, okay.”

After an hour and a half, Haddock said, he and his wife were free to go. He feels Barker and Robles were dead set on making a DUI arrest.

“It seemed, at that point, they were no longer interested in anything other than trying to find something to stick, a charge,” Haddock said. “It was pretty cold out that evening. They made me wait on the side of the road for over an hour and a half with my wife.”

Meanwhile, Bodell was on his way to jail. Bodell described what he claims happened to him in a YouTube video four days after his arrest.

“This is what happens when you exercise your right to remain silent to the Alaska State Troopers,” Bodell said.

In the video, Bodell’s left eye is surrounded by large black and blue bruises.

On Jan. 20, 2021, the incident was reported by the Department of Public Safety in a daily dispatch. The dispatch states, in part, that Bodell, “was given a disorderly conduct warning due to his continued yelling. At the time the occupant exited the vehicle and charged toward the trooper.”

Bodell knew he’d have to plead his case in court, but was worried that it was his word against the troopers.

“That means I’m going to die in prison for nothing,” Bodell said in April of 2022.

But there is more to Bodell’s story. Six weeks after his arrest, a new witness came forward and the case took an unexpected turn. The details will be unveiled in part two of this investigation.

Editor’s note: This article has been clarified to reflect that Glenn was not driving his own trooper vehicle with a dashcam because it was being serviced and that Glenn was driving a separate vehicle that was not equipped with a dashcam, not that the dashcam on the vehicle Glenn was driving was not functioning. The video has also been updated based on this clarification.

This article has also been updated with additional information about what was said between Glenn and Bodell during their physical altercation to provide additional context.