Officer reinstatement to cost city big bucks
Under the decision, Heidt is due all of the base pay, certification and longevity add-ons, PERS retirement contributions and vacation and sick leave time he would have accumulated during the last 14 months. That figures to run about $110,000.
In addition, the city is on the hook for arbitrator Kenneth Fitzsimon's fee, which runs $10,539, plus court transcription costs yet to be determined.
That's on top of the $295,000 the city spent settling a federal lawsuit filed by Hipolito Aranda, a bystander who suffered a brutal beating at Heidt's hands in the course of a 2010 drunk driving stop. And the city cannot appeal because terms of its contract with the police union make arbitration rulings binding on both parties.
Heidt is scheduled to meet with city officials Monday to discuss his return to duty. The delegation will be headed by Capt. Matt Scales, who has been filling in as chief since the recent retirement of Ron Noble.
He will have to undergo refresher training and re-qualify on the gun range, officials said. They said plans then call for a return to patrol duty, under terms of the order.
Heidt is being reinstated at a monthly salary of $5,911.50, plus benefits.
Aranda had been riding in a car with a woman accused of driving under the influence. He was standing beside the vehicle when Heidt threw him to the ground and began pummeling him.
Aranda suffered two broken ribs and a broken elbow. He was charged with resisting arrest, but he won a jury acquittal at trial.
Initially, an internal affairs investigation cleared Heidt of excessive use of force in the incident.
The issue arose anew two years later with the emergence of squad car video that cast serious doubt on Heidt's account. Noble discovered the video while helping the city prepare a defense to Aranda's civil suit in federal district court.
After a new internal affairs investigation criticized Heidt's use of force and questioned his veracity, Noble commissioned an outside investigation. He ultimately came to the conclusion Heidt had not been fully truthful about his involvement in either the beating case or a subsequent drunken brawl incident in Seaside.
Noting prosecutors would be loath to rely on Heidt's testimony in future cases he might bring, Noble terminated him in June 2013. The union responded by filing a grievance on his behalf, and the arbitration process took more than a year to play out.
But Fitzsimon said the low quality of the video rendered him unable "to discern all of the allegedly 'dramatic differences' between the Grievant's report and what the videos reveal."
He noted Heidt had suffered a hand injury in the encounter, preventing him from promplty typing up a report. He said Heidt's memory might have faded by then, accounting for some of the discrepancies.
In the subsequent Seaside incident, Heidt consumed a dozen or more drinks during a night-long bar-hopping outing, then flung a disabled man across the dance floor at the Twisted Fish and got tossed by a bouncer.
When some of the man's friends confronted Heidt in the parking lot afterward, a fight broke out. Police were called, but Heidt had left the scene by the time they arrived.
Later that night, Heidt mistook another residence for his and attempted to break in. The terrified occupant called 911 and Heidt to jail to dry out after he fell over a picket fence during questioning.
His blood alcohol measured .24, three times the level of presumed intoxication in Oregon. But the arbitrator found that mitigating rather than incriminating, saying such extreme inebriation made it impossible to come to a reasonable conclusion about his credibility.
Heidt suffered injuries in the off-duty incident that caused him to miss work. When he returned, Noble stripped him of his sergeant's rank.
Noble subsequently fired Heidt's wife, Nicole, from a management position in the department on grounds of insubordination. He said she attempted to rally union support for her husband after he warned her that her management status required her stay out of it.
She filed a tort claim, precursor to a possible civil suit for damages, without following up by the deadline. He subsequently filed a tort claim of his own, which still remains pending.
Heidt, a McMinnville High graduate, joined the force in 1997. The department's longstanding defensive tactics and use of force expert, he held sergeant rank from 2009 to 2012.