Former Nisswa Mayor Fred Heidmann appeared virtually Wednesday, Feb. 10, in Crow Wing County District Court where he was officially arraigned for disorderly conduct.
The charge against Heidmann stems from a profanity-laced tirade Aug. 29 he had against two police officers conducting a traffic stop of a third party along Highway 371, south of Nisswa. Nisswa and Pequot Lakes police officers were in the midst of conducting a Toward Zero Deaths traffic stop unrelated to Heidmann but which concluded with Heidmann being cited for two misdemeanors - obstruction of the legal process and disorderly conduct.
The charge for the citation for the obstruction of the legal process was dismissed in December.
During the beginning of the arraignment, Heidmann - who was representing himself - asked Judge Christopher Strandlie what the purpose was for the disorderly conduct charge and said he didn’t know who the victim is in the complaint.
Strandlie replied he cannot give Heidmann legal advice, other than to tell him what he is being charged with. Strandlie read the charges stating Heidmann engaged in a public place in an offensive or obscene manner and/or used abusive language resulting in noisy or boisterous conduct creating alarm for others.
The charges claim Heidmann disturbed others and there was a breach of peace. Strandlie said disorderly conduct does not contemplate an individual victim, as there would in an assault charge.
The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine or both.
The judge told Heidmann the purpose of the court hearing is to make sure he understands the charge filed against him, whether he agreed with it, and that he understands his rights. Heidmann said he understands what the state filed. Strandlie continued to explain Heidmann’s rights by explaining he has a right to have an attorney and a jury trial, if he so chooses.
Strandlie ordered unconditional bail at $500 or Heidmann could be released on his own recognizance, as long as he remains law-abiding and makes all future court appearances and keeps court administration updated with his case.
Strandlie said he understands Heidmann filed a number of motions in court, but said they will have to be addressed at a future contested hearing. That hearing was scheduled for 9 a.m. April 21.
Heidmann filed a motion Jan. 29 to have the amended complaint charging him with disorderly conduct dismissed, claiming several errors were made in the charging documents by the state; and asking for a hearing to show cause of the misconduct of the state. He also argued the amended complaint fails to identify a victim and fails to show he was displaying disorderly conduct behavior.
Assistant County Attorney Michael D. Hagley with St. Louis County, who is the state prosecutor of the case, wrote a letter to district court Jan. 21 addressing errors made in filing documents in the case. He stated as an attorney in St. Louis County, he does not have access to eCharging - the standard method of approving charging documents in Minnesota - for Crow Wing County and cannot sign complaints through eCharging on behalf of the Crow Wing County Attorney’s Office.
Hagley consulted with Crow Wing County Court Administration and it was determined the best way for him to issue a charging document without eCharging was to manually prepare and sign a document. Hagley said a number of errors occurred during this process.
The Aug. 29 incident started when Heidmann, who was at his business along Highway 371, began videotaping the traffic stop and then walked across the four-lane highway toward the vehicle that was pulled over. According to police reports, Heidmann was advised he could videotape the incident but was told to stand back away from the highway to be safe. Heidmann asked what the officers were doing and why they stopped the vehicle and words were exchanged.
During the incident, Heidmann made statements to officers such as, “You guys are just as bad as the cops in Minneapolis,” “I’m the mayor of this (expletive) town” and “You guys are (expletive) (expletive),” according to police reports and dashcam video. Heidmann also told the officers they were not qualified to be patrolling the highway.
In a written statement after the incident, Heidmann said he saw the police activity while walking his dog and was concerned, so he began recording the incident. Heidmann said he stood there wondering what impression this made with the hundreds of vacationing families going by seeing what appeared to be tourists having their goods rifled through.
Jennifer Kraus may be reached at email@example.com or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.