Wife of embattled officer fighting own firing
Nicole Heidt had worked for the department since 1995, first as a records specialist, later as support services manager and ultimately as commander of the support services division, as she advanced in her career. As one of the department’s four top administrators, reporting directly to Noble, she was no longer eligible for union representation.
Tim Heidt was hired in 1997 and promoted to sergeant in 2009. He was demoted in March 2012, over his involvement in a drunken barroom fight in Seaside, and filed a grievance with the McMinnville Police Association in response.
A tort claim, released Wednesday in response to a public records request from the News-Register, was filed on her behalf in December 2012 by Portland lawyer Judy Snyder.
The claim indicates Nicole Heidt “spoke, as a private citizen, in support of her husband during a MPA membership meeting on April 25, 2012.” It continues:
“On May 2, 2012, Chief Noble spoke with Ms. Heidt regarding her participation, and thereafter, placed Ms. Heidt on administrative leave pending an investigation. Following the investigation, Chief Noble terminated Ms. Heidt’s employment with the city, despite her 16 1/2 years of exemplary service without any prior disciplinary record.”
The claim contends the city violated her state and federal rights to freedom of speech when it fired her.
An aggrieved party is not allowed to file a lawsuit against a government agency without first filing a tort claim putting the agency on notice. She has not followed up with a lawsuit to date, but the law allows her two years.
In addition to the Seaside incident, her husband has come under scrutiny in connection with a 2010 arrest. In that case, he was caught on video attacking and beating a Latino man who had been riding with a woman cited for drunken driving.
The victim suffered broken ribs, a broken elbow and other injuries, leading him to file a federal lawsuit alleging excessive use of force.
The suit was filed in federal district court in Portland by a Portland lawyer. It recently came to public light last week, and the video surfaced with it.
Unlike Nicole Heidt, who was never a sworn officer, Tim Heidt remains on the force.