UPDATE: Bodycam footage shows Nisswa mayor in expletive-filled rant against officers
After refusing officers’ warnings to move to a safer area, Heidmann was arrested under probable cause for disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process while officers were conducting a traffic stop near his business on Highway 371 and Skillman Street, south of Nisswa.
Police body camera footage shows Nisswa Mayor Fred Heidmann in a profanity-laced tirade against two police officers conducting a traffic stop of a third party Saturday, Aug. 29, in Nisswa.
“You guys are just as bad as the cops in Minneapolis,” and “I’m the mayor of this (expletive) town” were among the statements Heidmann made to the officers in footage provided to the Dispatch.
After refusing officers’ warnings to move to a safer area, Heidmann was arrested under probable cause for disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process while officers were conducting a traffic stop near his business on Highway 371 and Skillman Street, south of Nisswa. In a written statement, Heidmann said he planned to fight any charges resulting from the incident because he had a right to free speech and the traffic stop was over when the confrontation occurred.
According to police reports, Pequot Lakes officer Matthew Jorgens made a traffic stop just before 8 p.m. while working the Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety program, and Nisswa officer Matthew Thompson was called to assist.
While the officers were conducting the traffic stop, Thompson observed Heidmann recording the traffic stop from across Highway 371 on Round Lake Road. Heidmann continued to record for a few minutes and then began to cross the highway toward the vehicle that was pulled over. Thompson observed Heidmann walk to the back of his squad car. The officer advised Heidmann he could record the traffic stop but he should do it from a safe distance. Heidmann asked what the officers were doing and why they stopped the vehicle. The Nisswa officer advised the mayor he was assisting with the traffic stop and again told him to “go back where it was safe,” the police report stated. Heidmann did not listen and he continued to argue with the officer.
According to the police report, Heidmann stated, “Don’t you guys have something better to do? … Go patrol the (expletive) streets,” and “You guys aren’t qualified to be out here on the highway.”
The officer again advised Heidmann to leave and stand back where it was safe. Heidmann refused to leave and continued to argue, stating, “I’m the mayor of this (expletive) town,” “You guys are not drug people,” and “You guys are (expletive) (expletive).”
During the interaction, Heidmann is seen in the body camera footage holding a leash attached to a dog, which got loose at one point and walked along the busy highway. Heidmann is seen walking to get the dog.
Jorgens then advised Heidmann it was not safe for him to be where he was, standing on the highway fog line. Heidmann replied, “Don’t tell me what to do, I know what I’m doing,” and, “You guys are just as bad as the cops in Minneapolis,” the police report stated. The officer again advised Heidmann to leave and Heidmann stated, “Shut the (explicit) up” and left the scene.
Heidmann then drove his work truck from Dockside Rental and parked on Skillman Street, in front of the traffic stop location. Jorgens was talking with the occupants of a stopped vehicle when Heidmann walked to them again. Jorgens attempted to place Heidmann in handcuffs and Thompson got out of his squad car to assist. Heidmann resisted arrest by keeping his left arm from being placed behind his back, the police report stated. Thompson grabbed his arm and placed it behind his back while Jorgens handcuffed Heidmann.
The occupants of the pulled-over vehicle recorded a portion of Heidmann’s arrest and posted it to the video sharing platform TikTok.
While the officers escorted Heidmann to the squad car, the Pequot Lakes officer advised him he was warned five times to leave. Heidmann stated he was never warned.
The officers were advised by the jail they would not take Heidmann due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Heidmann was released and police are preparing paperwork for criminal charges. When Jorgens asked if he had any questions, Heidman said, “Find another job,” the report stated.
Police leaders respond
“This guy shows up to a traffic stop and he had nothing to do with it, no part of it whatsoever,” Pequot Lakes Police Chief Eric Klang said. “It was totally inappropriate.
“If he’s got a problem with the officers or with Nisswa, he should be dealing with that in a different setting than alongside a busy road where there is a traffic stop. People are only seeing a part of this in TikTok, but there is a whole lot more to it. He was given numerous warnings and he just wanted to be out there and be belligerent with the officers and we are not going to put up with that.”
Nisswa Police Chief Craig Taylor said, “I’m disappointed and extremely sad that an elected official feels justified in inserting himself into a traffic stop that has nothing to do with him and feels it is appropriate to yell and swear at two officers from two jurisdictions that are doing nothing more than trying to do their jobs and making people safe.
“I would hope there would be more accountability to our elected officials.”
Taylor said he watched the body camera video in its entirety.
“I am extremely proud of the patience and restraint used by the officers in this altercation,” Taylor said.
Klang said he stands by Jorgens, who is a highly respected officer. Klang said once a person “crosses the line” and the officer tells them they are under arrest, most of the time there is no struggle for the officer to place handcuffs on them.
“The officer was just trying to get a hold of him and obviously he was pulling away from him, trying to get away from him,” Klang said.
Klang said the traffic stop shown in the TikTok video was initiated as the vehicle was in violation of window tint and loud exhaust laws. During the stop, the officers found some drug paraphernalia and a small amount of marijuana and the occupants were cited for those violations.
“The officers had no issues with the occupants in the vehicle or with searching the vehicle,” Klang said. “And then they saw a guy with a dog walking up the service drive and cross the southbound lane of the highway, going through the median and holding a phone filming it. Then he started yelling vulgarities at the officers.”
Nisswa mayor’s statement
In a written statement, Heidmann said he saw the activity up the street from his business while walking his dog and was concerned by what he saw, so he began videotaping the incident as he went to check out what was taking place.
He saw Jorgens digging around in the car and unpacking and going through the belongings of what appeared to be travel gear and blankets. Heidmann said he stood there wondering what impression this was making with the hundreds of vacationing families going by seeing what appeared to be tourists having their goods rifled through. When it looked safe, he said he walked over and was immediately confronted by Jorgens and told to leave. After trying to get information and getting no response except to leave, he did.
He went back to his store and watched until the incident appeared over, the people were back in their car and the officers were standing back 50-60 feet away at their squad cars. Heidmann said he drove over and stopped on a side street in front of the stopped car and approached, stated he was the mayor and wondered if they would mind stopping over to his store so he could learn more about what transpired.
Jorgens then came marching up after his business with the citizens appeared to be well completed, Heidmann wrote, and started in about obstruction of justice. Heidmann said he finished what he was saying, stood up, looked over to the officer and was going to leave to meet the people at his store when Jorgens grabbed him, twisted his arm and told him he was under arrest.
Heidmann clarified part of the TikTok video in his statement, saying when he disagreed that he was asked to leave five times, that had happened in about 30 seconds when he was there the first time, not when he came back after the people were about to leave.
Heidmann said he is seeking discussion with the Toward Zero Deaths leader about what he described as a “trap” set up in Nisswa on Saturday to learn more about those campaigns. He will be seeking to have the charges dropped based on the right of free speech being the stop had concluded, he said.
Echo Journal Editor Nancy Vogt contributed to this story.
JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.