City parts ways with embattled officer
City Attorney Candace Haines confirmed Friday that Heidt’s employment ended Thursday. She declined to elaborate, saying, “As this is a personnel matter, I can’t discuss it further under the terms of ORS 192.501(12).” Chief Ron Noble was out of town.
The News-Register has filed a formal public records request, arguing that in such a controversial and highly publicized case, the public interest in the workings of its police department outweighs the privacy right of an individual officer.
Heidt has been involved in two high-profile incidents in recent years — the beating of a bystander in a 2010 drunk driving stop and a drunken off-duty brawl in Seaside two years later.
The beating led to the filing of a federal lawsuit seeking $1 million in damages, predicated on use of excessive force.
According to a court filing confirmed by local officials, a settlement has now been reached. They have promised to release the terms as soon as opposing attorneys have finalized the details, in the interest of “openness and transparency.”
The suit resulted from a traffic stop in early 2010 involving a driver suspected of being under the influence. Police and court records describe it this way:
Front-seat passenger Hipolito Aranda was standing beside the vehicle. Heidt, arriving to provide backup, was asked to keep an eye on him.
Police squad car video, used as evidence in both a damning internal affairs investigation and the court case, showed Heidt throwing Aranda to the ground without apparent provocation and battering him on the head and body repeatedly as he tried to shield himself from the blows with one arm.
A sheriff’s deputy joined in briefly, and a police sergeant then proceeded to tase Aranda, whose injuries included a broken elbow and fractured ribs.
Aranda was prosecuted for resisting arrest, but acquitted at trial. After being vindicated by a jury, he filed suit in U.S. District Court in Portland.
According to local officials, a settlement was reached earlier this month, but some of the language is still being adjusted. Court files confirm that the case is being dismissed because a settlement is in the works.
Heidt was serving as a sergeant at the time, but was demoted in 2012 over his involvement in the drunken off-duty altercation in Seaside.
According to the Seaside police investigation, after consuming 12 to 13 drinks at local bars, Heidt flung a smaller, lighter and partially disabled man across the dance floor, then left. Outside, he was attacked by some of the victim’s friends.
Police said Heidt’s blood alcohol measured .24, triple the .08 marking the presumed level of intoxication in Oregon. They said he mistakenly returned to the wrong residence and attempted to get in, causing a frightened female resident, there with her family, to call 911.
The city also declined to release details of its disciplinary action in the Seaside case, but the News-Register was able to obtain state records of an unsuccessful attempt by Heidt to have his demotion overturned.
Heidt, a 42-year-old McMinnville High graduate, joined the department in 1997. He was promoted to sergeant in 2009.