Witness comes forward weeks after alleged excessive force by Alaska trooper

Alaska State Troopers contend man arrested was aggressor in tense altercation
Alaska State Troopers contend man arrested was aggressor in tense altercation
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 6:41 PM AKDT
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SOLDOTNA, Alaska (KTUU) - Bob Bodell, 71, of Soldotna, claims he was sitting in the passenger seat of a stranded SUV on the side of Sterling Highway, waiting for his friends to return with some gas, when a rookie Alaska State Trooper tased, maced, and struck him twice for simply exercising his right to remain silent. However, the troopers’ version of what happened that night is much different.

Records show the incident happened around midnight in rural Soldotna, on the frigid night of Jan. 8, 2021. Erick Haddock, his wife Kaydee, and Bodell were driving down the highway when the vehicle ran out of gas. Haddock managed to park it at the base of a long residential driveway. Haddock and his wife then began walking to Bodell’s house a few miles away to get gas. Bodell remained behind, due to his impaired mobility. The homeowners soon became suspicious and reported the vehicle to a 911 operator, who then dispatched state trooper Brian Glenn to the scene.

When Glenn approached Bodell in the SUV, Bodell claims he explained why he was there. He maintains Glenn, who had graduated from the law enforcement academy six months prior, kept insisting that he was the driver of the vehicle. The situation then escalated, but there was no video documentation because Glenn’s assigned cruiser — which was equipped with a dashcam — was out of service and the one he was driving that night didn’t have one.

The trooper did enter an audio recording into evidence, which contained a portion of his exchange with Bodell. Glenn apparently didn’t record the moments leading up to his encounter with Bodell, despite operating procedures that state, “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.”

Instead, Glenn’s audio began well after the interaction became heated, soon escalating into a violent struggle between the two men. As a result, Bodell was arrested and charged with assaulting an officer and disorderly conduct. Bodell claims the injuries sustained from that incident left him with uncontrollable shakes and memory problems, which has made him more dependent upon his caretakers.

“Yeah, I used to be able to ride the four-wheeler but, yeah, that’s out,” Bodell recalled.

An internal investigation conducted by the Department of Public Safety, which oversees state troopers, determined Glenn did not use excessive force. Department Commissioner James Cockrell said that a third-party law enforcement agency also concurred.

“He was the aggressive person, our trooper was not aggressive during this,” Cockrell said.

The case against Bodell was forwarded to the Kenai District Attorney’s office for prosecution and soon appeared to be gaining momentum. Nearly a month and a half after Bodell’s arrest, a new witness emerged. On Feb. 25, 2021, Lt. Mike Zweifel notified the investigating Sgt. Joseph Miller that a woman in the house at the end of the long driveway had witnessed the incident.

The audio recording of Miller’s interview he conducted with Lakeesha Lee — the witness who came forward in February — and that of her brother-in-law Richard Fenn revealed that Fenn had already spoken with troopers on the night of the incident. Fenn told them he couldn’t clearly see what was going on because his view was obstructed by his truck. However, Lee claimed to have seen more that night.

“It looked like once the trooper opened the door, there was either a punch thrown from the other guy, or he like lunged,” Lee Sgt. Miller. “It was really hard to see where we were at, you know, our driveway’s pretty long so I didn’t have a clear view.”

When confronted about Lee’s account of that night, Bodell maintained it wasn’t true. He says he never lunged at Glenn or took a swing at him. When questioned as to why he thought Lee claimed to have seen these things, Bodell replied, “she’s a cop’s wife.” There is no evidence Lee fabricated any of the information in her witness statement. Lee is married to former Kenai police officer Charles Lee. At the time of the incident, Charles Lee had just taken a new job with the Homer Police Department. The Homer police posted to their Facebook page on Nov. 23, 2020, announcing the hiring of Lee on Nov. 23, 2020. The post notes that Lee was also an active member of the troopers’ Emergency Reaction Team. At the end of the recorded phone call between Lakeesha Lee and Sergeant Miller, the two can be heard chatting about her husband.

“We’re gonna’ miss your hubby up here in Kenai,” Miller tells her.

“Yeah that’s, you know, what I’ve been hearing from troopers. From KPD not so much,” Lee replies, “but from troopers we’ve been hearing that a lot.” Alaska’s News Source reached out to Lee for clarification about why she waited six weeks to come forward and to ask how confident she felt in what she later reported. Lee did not respond after numerous attempts to reach her by phone and email.

Meanwhile, more than a year and a half had passed since Bodell’s arrest and he was still awaiting trial. Bodell claims to have numerous health issues and fears he’d die if ever forced to serve time in jail.

“Oh, I know I would,” Bodell said.

At the same time that Bodell’s future appeared to be growing dim, he also received some news that lightened his spirits. On March 22, 2022, Glenn resigned from his position as an Alaska State Trooper. Department spokesperson Austin McDaniel said that Glenn’s departure is unrelated to the Bodell case and maintain trooper Glenn left the department in good standing. Troopers say Bodell escalated the situation by spouting profanities and not complying with Trooper Glenn. Commissioner Cockrell also stands by Bodell’s arrest, saying Glenn simply did what he was trained to do.

A few months later, Bodell’s trial was finally set to begin on Aug. 15, 2022. The next day his entire case was dismissed.

In mid-July, Kenai District Attorney Scot Leaders wrote, “my office dismissed the case when the trooper/victim became unavailable for trial. Former Trooper Brian Glenn took employment out-of-state making him unavailable for trial in this matter. Without Glenn’s testimony the State did not have the evidence to establish the essential elements of the charged offenses.”

McDaniel and Cockrell said that the state has previously paid fees so that former troopers who had left the state could return to testify. Alaska’s News Source attempted to contact Deputy Attorney General John Skidmore of the Criminal Division to ask why that did not occur in this instance but received no reply to requests for comment.

Bodell says the dismissal is bittersweet since he’ll never get a chance to clear his name.

“Brian Glenn’s not a cop, but they let him resign,” Bodell said. “So, he’ll just go get a job as a cop somewhere else and do the same thing to some other old person.”

On Sept. 1, 2022, Brian Glenn began working as a Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper. Attempts to contact him through Tennessee’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security were unsuccessful. A media spokesperson stated that their policy prohibits troopers from commenting on cases while they’re finishing up their field training. A public information officer with Alaska State Troopers says he spoke directly to Glenn about making a comment in this case, but Glenn declined.