By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Credibility concerns triggered Heidt firing

Heidt was exonerated in a 2010 internal affairs investigation where his account carried heavy weight because videotape from his squad car could not be recovered. But both his actions and his characterization of them came under sharp criticism in a followup investigation three years later, after the department discovered the tape was viewable after all and did not support his account.

A report from that investigation cited “inconsistencies between what actually happened and what Sgt. Heidt reported,” terming it a matter “of great concern.” It concluded his description of Hipolito Aranda as “combative” was “wholly unwarranted by the situation.”

The three authors said, “We discussed the inconsistencies and were unwilling to ascribe intentional deception or lying to Sgt. Heidt’s statements. We did note that the poor credibility of his testimony in this case is extremely troubling even if not deceitful.”

That finding subsequently led Noble to have Capt. Jason Alexander of the Woodburn police conduct an independent investigation into the impact that might have on Heidt’s ability to survive defense challenges to his credibility in future cases, the newly released records show. Alexander authored a report that led District Attorney Brad Berry to issue a formal notice to the local defense bar about Heidt’s credibility issue, and his municipal court counterpart to announce she would not be able to rely on Heidt’s testimony, the records show.

With that, Noble opted to terminate Heidt’s employment.

The documents were requested by the News-Register under Oregon’s public records law. The city declined, citing personal privacy issues, but the News-Register appealed to Berry. Berry ordered their release, ruling the public interest outweighed personal privacy concerns in the high-profile case.

Noble did not spare his own department from criticism, the records show.

In a June 6 letter notifying Heidt of his termination, the chief said the department “lacked an adequate check and balance” in its system for reviewing use of force by officers — something he pledged to rectify. He said he found the department’s failures even more concerning than Heidt’s actions.

In the early 2010 incident, Heidt threw 48-year-old Aranda to the ground with no apparent provocation and began beating him about the head and chest with his fists. Aranda. He tried to protect himself, but did not fight back, suffered a broken elbow and broken ribs.

A county deputy jumped into the fray to deliver some additional blows and a McMinnville police sergeant tased him several times. Originally just a passenger and bystander in a drunk driving case, he ended up facing five charges of his own, including resisting arrest.

Though the defense did not have benefit of the highly exculpatory videotape, it nevertheless won acquittal on all counts from a jury.

Aranda then brought suit in federal court. When the video subsequently surfaced, the city turned it over to Aranda’s attorney and went into settlement phase.

Because the department had failed to conduct an adequate use of force review initially, Noble told Heidt in the termination letter, he had decided there would be “no additional investigation or disciplinary actions taken based on these policy violations.” Instead, he said, he had decided to address the problem by having department procedures updated “to reflect my expectations with regard to the review of officers’ use of force to ensure that we provide a thorough and accurate review the first time.”

That failed to save Heidt’s career, however, because the followup reviews questioned his credibility. Heidt had sworn both in the internal affairs investigation and resisting arrest trial that Aranda had “combatively resisted,” but the videotape shows conclusively that he did not, Noble said in the letter.

Until that point, Heidt, a 16-year veteran, had apparently been well-regarded. Previous performance evaluations praised his honesty and integrity, helping him win a promotion to sergeant in 2009.

His supervisor noted that he had taken on extra duties, such as supervising the reserve officer, defensive tactics and survival skills programs, and praised his leadership in those areas. His supervisor concluded in one review, wrongly as it turned out, “No one will ever question his integrity.”

The first incident to mar Heidt’s record was a drunken bar brawl in Seaside. Though it occurred a year after the Aranda incident, it had an impact first due to the delayed surfacing of the damning Aranda case videotape.

Noble ordered him to forfeit his sergeant stripes and command position, along with a month’s pay. A state arbitrator overturned the pay forfeiture, but upheld the demotion.

Police Association attorney Daryl Garrettson has notified the city the union also intends to arbitrate Heidt’s firing. However, that requires authorization by the union membership, which to city knowledge, has not addressed the matter to date.



What precisely does Chief Noble consider "use of force?" Look at the tape! Yet another example of doublespeak.


Why isn't officer Heidt being charged with felony assault, an assault that took place under the full color of his authority?


I know the person Heidt beat up and he is the nicest person and doesn't have an aggressive bone in his body. He would do anything for anybody and is always willing to lend a hand with a huge smile on his face. It breaks my heart this happened to him.


Just a couple of weeks ago, one of your alter egos offered a somewhat different take. I think the exact words were: "Obviously the district attorney has seen no crime committed. Move on folks nothing to see here."


Yes, but what has changed is the 'new-news' now being reported as per this article, that being said and now known to be the case, did he or did he not commit an unjustifiable first degree assault under the color of his authority?


That of course would be predicated on the theory that the District Attorney of Yamhill County actually reads the News-Register and brought up to speed on what may have actually occurred in this case. Just sayin....


I guess you could give him a call and ask him yourself.
There is always discretion in charging, oc course. According to the chief in Mac, five charges could have been brought against Heidt in Seaside, but none were.
The beating case is 3 1/2 years old now, and the really damming evidence didn't turn up until more than 3 years later. That might be a hard case to make under the circumstances.
You could also look at it this way: The case has already been adjudiated three times, once with Aranda's criminal trial, once with the federal civil suit and once with the internal disciplinary proceedings ending in a subsequent round of state arbitration. So it's gotten a lot of chewing.
Plus, Heidt already suffered a demotion, then a termination; he has likely earned a record that will prevent him from ever working in law enforcement again in any capacity at any level; and the city and county got slapped with a $295,000 civil penalty. One could ask, do we really want to initiate another round of proceedings at great public expense. If the likely outcome ranged from acquittal to probation, which I suspect, then what's the point of investing another 25 or 30 grand or whatever?
But that's just my take.
We didn't feel it was an issue worth pursuing with the DA, but if you do, the field is open. He's only a phone call or e-mail away.


Huh? I'd only asked, and thank you very much for the respectful reply, quite unlike your earlier comment in which you'd employed the term----> "alter ego"

Actually had to look that one up, Steve, and found it's use by you to be just another slur as is typical.

A change in usernames does not constitute, much less mean, anything other than just that, and that much only. No alter ego here homie or don't you know me?


I am supportive of law enforcement, Steve, and always have been. Obviously, every person that commits a crime worthy of felony status will only meet justice if justice meets them.

I believe (as I am quite positive you do as well) that the vast majority of those working in the field of law enforcement are of honorable and reputable character. It is also my opinion that those that choose to break ranks from that vast majority should be made to pay a higher and dearer price for making any conscious decision to break from those ranks.

What I find bothersome is that the financial burden for recompense seems to fall more on the back of the institution than on that of the individual. Officer Heidt has now proven himself to be a violent individual, but one without a conviction on his record. Will allowing this individual to continue on with his life without that conviction to follow him, only time will tell.

Let's hope that his right to continue to own firearms does not prove some day to be a decision made detrimental concerning the safety of, or the public good.

....Happy 4th of July, Yamhill County!


I think you are reading way, way too much into a single casual reference, F-Minus. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about alter egos:
Alter egos are used by numerous performing artists who use stage or screen personas (which is different from stage names) both to entertain audiences and to explore new identities for themselves. An early example of a musical group to make use of alter egos was The Beatles, who recorded and performed as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in order "to alter our egos, free ourselves and have a lot of fun." Alter egos would later be used for entertainment value by glam-associated artists such as David Bowie (as Ziggy Stardust and The Thin White Duke) and KISS, and to exploit horror themes by shock rocker Alice Cooper. Often, these artists are known almost exclusively by their alter egos... In contemporary hip hop, artists such as, B.o.B, Nicki Minaj, Tech N9ne, and have used the alter egos Bobby Ray, Roman Zolanski, Tecca Nina... More subtle uses of alter egos can be seen in artists who redefine their image for an album, such as Christina Aguilera as Xtina.
Not a slur. Not even a negative reference, just a reference to another persona. You used one moniker for your earlier reference and now you are using another. That's the sum total of it.


Wikipedia: An alter ego (Latin "the other I") is a second self which is believed to be distinct from a person's normal or original personality.

A person who has an alter ego is said to live a double life.

How 'bout we just stick with the facts, yes, I do change usernames and do so often but my persona remains the same as I have no alter ego, no "other I" do I employ.


Fact is, it was used as a slur and your marching out of entertainment industry alter egos, in a vain attempt to bolster your own position does not change that fact.

Not anymore than you change whether you are presenting yourself as Steve Bagwell, Managing Editor, or just you posting as Steve. I would suppose that in your own case that the term alter ego may actually apply. Would it not?


Horseradish will always be horseradish, and I will always be me under any given name.

~Two shoes


I have absolutely no problem with the term alter ego. It is a neutral, benign term that is in very common usage.
Yes, one of my alter egos is a managing editor. Another would be husband. Then there would be father. I think we all play various roles in life, and alter egos is one way to refer to them.
There's no need to take offense when none is intended. Rest easy.




So what is to become of the officers who 'piled on'. The county guy who took the cheap shots with his knee and sparky?


You know what's going to happen? Nothing. Nada.

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