INDEPENDENCE, Iowa --- On the night of his arrest, Mayor Carl Scharff proclaimed his innocence and promised to take the fight to one of the arresting officers.
“He’s messed with me too many times. Now it’s my turn, and I’m coming,” Scharff said.
The mayor’s comments were recorded by a security camera as Scharff made a call in the wee hours Nov. 16 from inside the Buchanan County Jail. The Courier obtained the video Tuesday after filing a Freedom of Information request.
Scharff singled out officer David Winger of the Independence Police Department. Winger was among those responding about 10:45 p.m. to a medical call at the Majestic Bar & Grill.
The injury to Norbert Heinen, 55, of Independence, was apparently the result of a fight, and Winger began investigating. Eventually, the officer tried to talk to Scharff.
According to criminal complaints, the mayor was combative, disobeyed instructions and ultimately resisted being handcuffed.
Scharff relayed his version of the evening’s events to a woman during a telephone call from the jail’s intake area.
“Your buddy, Wingnut, arrested me for interfer — supposedly — interference with official acts. So I’m up here at the Buchanan County Jail,” Scharff said on the video.
“Don’t worry about it. I didn’t do anything wrong. Want to let you know.
“Uh, he, he — Mr. Winger will pay the price,” the mayor added.
Winger signed criminal complaints for public intoxication and harassment of a public officer against Scharff. Deputy Ben Ward added one count of interference with officials acts. Each of the charges is a misdemeanor.
According to Police Chief Randy Miller, the mayor was not involved in the fight.
During the phone call, Scharff suggests “somebody hit Norbert” but he claims he did not see exactly what happened.
“He hit the back of a chair or he hit the back of something, you know, and he was bleeding profusely from the head, and uh, it went from there,” Scharff said on the video.
“Next thing I know I’m getting pulled over there. I told them I‘ll make a statement tomorrow — you don’t make statements in a bar — and he told me to sit down.”
Scharff told the woman and the female jailer that a badly injured ankle, which required surgery, pins and a plate, means he must stand occasionally to aid blood circulation.
“‘I choose to stand,’ but because I did set, that’s why he arrested me for interference with official acts. That’s what he did,” Scharff said.
Later on the video, however, the mayor suggested the opposite, claiming Winger arrested him for not sitting down.
“I said, ‘I prefer to stand.’ That’s all I said — given my leg. You know how my foot gets. You know I’d been standing.
“And as soon as I didn’t set down, he arrested me for inter-fficial acts, interference with official acts,” Scharff said.
The mayor also asked the woman to call Councilman Richard Engen, who represents the 3rd Ward.
“Give Winger, er, give Engen a call and tell him I’m on the warpath because I’m coming. He’ll know what I’m talking about. OK?” Scharff said.
“Just tell him the ol’ mayor’s coming.”
Miller said Tuesday he had not seen the video. He declined to comment on whether Scharff holds any animosity toward officer Winger or the Independence Police Department, which has arrested Scharff on more than one occasion over the years.
“We’re just going to let due process play its course,” Miller said. “The mayor will be treated like anybody else ... At this time he’s not been found guilty of anything.”
Miller described Winger as an asset to the city’s police force.
“He has been a good officer for our department,” Miller added.
Winger has been with the city for 11 years and has confronted at least one other public official while on duty. In 2004, he arrested the then-county assessor for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
Winger was also the focus of a public protest in September 2007. More than 150 people staged a rally and called on the city to fire the officer, alleging Winger unfairly targeted and harassed some individuals.
The city attorney at the time, Sarah Dooley Rothman, investigated the complaints. Scharff was a newly elected member of the City Council when Rothman in January 2008 ultimately cleared Winger of any wrongdoing.
Rothman did, however, recommend the city develop a better procedure to handle complaints from citizens.
County Attorney Shawn Harden declined to comment on Scharff’s case. He did, however, describe Winger as a “thorough” and “conscientious” police officer known for “dotting every i and crossing every t.”
Correction added (11/29): The original version of this story incorrectly stated Officer David Winger of the Independence Police Department arrested then-county auditor for operating a vehicle while intoxicated in 2004. Winger actually arrested the then-county assessor. This has been corrected in the story.