Video: Police officer 'will pay' for arrest, says Independence mayor

2012-11-28T09:00:00Z 2013-01-03T12:17:51Z Video: Police officer 'will pay' for arrest, says Independence mayorBy DENNIS MAGEE, Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

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.

Copyright 2015 Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(9) Comments

  1. equality
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    equality - December 11, 2012 7:22 pm
    It is obvious by these comments that nobody thinks that an officer should dot every i and cross every t that is what keeps them honest and upholding the law. as for the mayor thinking he is above the law is not right either. What you are not stating in the focus of public protest that was investigated and he was not fired. Those that are part of the group don't like him cause he does his job and he does it well. It does it like most cops in other areas should do their jobs. Everybody is quick to condem the officers without knowing what they were seeing through their eyes. What is going on with them and what drives them. Officers are out there pulling over people not knowing if when they approach they are going to get shot or hit by an on-coming motorist. Not to metion when they are called to a domestic situation if they are going to find somebody battered on the brink of death or already deceased. Have an open mind here people and let those that try and do a job to protect those of us civilians do their jobs.
  2. Change is Good
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    Change is Good - December 05, 2012 9:49 pm
    Sign this petition to rid Indee of the scourge of rogue cops

  3. Funny Guy 101
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    Funny Guy 101 - December 02, 2012 10:46 pm
    I find this entire ordeal in bad taste. Sounds like to me that the City of Independence has a drunk for a mayor and a cop who was sick of it. Mayors are not above the law and if they interfere they should be held to account. This Mayor made a big mistake. If the officer gets in trouble or gets fired they will have to rename the town after him because he will own it. If this Mayor is in the right then why did the sheriffs deputy file charges on him as well? Must have done something wrong to have two agencies charge you. Final question, I thought Oelwein was the black eye of NE Iowa but now I am seriously thinking Independence was surpassed them.
  4. bobsmithson
    Report Abuse
    bobsmithson - December 01, 2012 9:24 pm
    This story is being presented by the Courier as another Schares/Dunkerton type situation, but Independence residents will tell you that the focus of this story should be on the cop.

    The article quotes County Attorney Shawn Harden as saying that this officer is "known for “dotting every i and crossing every t.” What he seems to be saying is that this particular cop is incapable of using sound judgement, and that certainly seems to be the case here.

    Also pay close attention to this quote: "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...".

    Mr. Magee needs to do a lot more digging. Why would a community develop an organization devoted entirely to getting rid of a cop?
  5. lbwti
    Report Abuse
    lbwti - November 30, 2012 10:49 am
  6. screwyloo
    Report Abuse
    screwyloo - November 30, 2012 10:16 am
    Whoa the mayor didn't do anything except not sit down... don't drag him into anything. Why detain him in the first place, a fight broke out why not let the mayor go home and give a statement (if needed) the next day?
  7. victor672
    Report Abuse
    victor672 - November 28, 2012 12:54 pm
    67Shelby, this community has had at least three other sex-abuse-related stories come out of it in the last month or two. This mayor incident is just the frosting.

    INDEPENDENCE --- Public records reveal additional information about a caretaker accused of texting explicit messages to a dependent adult.

    INDEPENDENCE, Iowa — Six Northeast Iowa teenagers have been charged with misdemeanors stemming from distribution of an obscene photo taken by a fellow student.

    INDEPENDENCE, Iowa --- Authorities are pressing charges against Barbara Griffiths, a mother who allegedly gave written permission to a man to have sex with her 13-year-old daughter.
  8. 67Shelby
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    67Shelby - November 28, 2012 12:10 pm
    Nice coverage for the community! Who wouldn't want to move their family to this community that demonstrates such great leadership qualities from the Honorable Mayor?
  9. victor672
    Report Abuse
    victor672 - November 28, 2012 10:28 am
    At first glance I thought the surname was Schares. Similar attitude.
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