When a Minnesota couple called the police to intervene in a dispute with a neighbor they said was harassing them, they didn’t expect that they would be the ones to get raided and arrested. That’s precisely what happened, however, and the ordeal has left them questioning the motives of law enforcement in rural Minnesota; moreover, it has raised questions about how police in rural areas employ tactics that are not just difficult to explain, but often just as aggressive and dangerous as their urban counterparts. PAR breaks down the sequence of events that prompted police in this small rural town to conduct a swat-style raid on the people who called them for help.
Pre-Production/Studio: Stephen Janis
Post-Production: Stephen Janis, Adam Coley
Taya Graham: Hello. My name is Taya Graham, and welcome to the Police Accountability Report. As I always make clear, this show has a single purpose: holding the politically powerful institution of policing accountable. And to do so, we don’t just focus on the bad behavior of individual cops. Instead, we examine the system that makes bad policing possible.
And today we will achieve that goal by examining this troubling arrest of a man who had actually called the police when he was attacked. It’s not just how this case was mishandled that was so alarming, but also what it reveals about a recurring topic on our show: over policing in rural areas and small towns.
But before we get started, I want you to know that if you have evidence of police misconduct, please email it to us privately at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use our form link in the YouTube description. And please like, share, and comment on our videos. You know I read your comments and appreciate them. And of course you can always reach out to me directly @tayasbaltimore on Facebook or Twitter. And of course, if you can, please hit the Patreon donate link pinned in the comments below, because we do have some extras there for our PAR family. Okay. We’ve gotten all that out of the way.
Now, if there is a common theme that has emerged from our reporting on law enforcement, it is this: America is simply over policed. Consider our investigation into the small West Virginia town of Milton. There, we found a series of questionable arrests that you are seeing now, involving residents who had, in some cases, committed no crime at all. Problematic behavior by police, which raised broader questions about what was driving the overly aggressive emphasis on law enforcement.
After a little digging, we found that the town had doubled the amount of fines and fees in a span of roughly five years. And recently, after filing a Freedom of Information request, we received hundreds of pages documenting thousands of infractions. Data showing tens of thousands of citations issued over a four year period in a town with a population of only 2500 people.
But the reason I bring up Milton and the data we uncovered investigating small town policing is because of the video you are watching right now. It depicts the arrest of William Logering in Pierz, Minnesota. A man who had actually previously called police to assist him, but wound up being violently detained and then dragged through a still unfolding legal drama that has engulfed him and his family in an unending battle with the justice system.
The story begins when Logering was assaulted by an employee of a gas station when he was fixing a light on his truck. The encounter, between a former friend, was caught on video. Logering reluctantly filed a complaint with the police due to the continued harassment by the same man. He later obtained a restraining order against the aggressor, which he hoped would bring the conflict to an end. But that was not the end of the story.
In fact, it was only the beginning. That’s because the accuser started to harass and threaten Logering. An ongoing conflict that kept getting more and more extreme, and for Logering, more and more dangerous. But instead of addressing the threat, police targeted him. Let’s watch.
[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]
Officer 1: Hey. Hey, get back over here. Hey. He ran from me. [inaudible] Get over here with your hands up! Get out here. Fucking ran off. Barricaded the door. I kicked it a couple times. He stepped out, I have a restraining order. Shut it again.
Speaker 1: I have a restraining order [against him]
Officer 1: Step out here! Get out here!
[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]
Taya Graham: Now, police allege in their charging documents that Logering was actually the assailant, a claim which he vigorously denies. In fact, Logering and his girlfriend, Wendy Acker, have shared dozens of documents with PAR. Legal filings which show not only did the police not take their concerns seriously, but instead focused on them. Which is why when a Sheriff’s deputy showed up at his house, Logering was both scared and confused. That’s why he was worried the police would arrest him. So they were engaged in a standoff, with police urging Logering to surrender. Let’s listen.
[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]
Officer 2: I’m on you.
Officer 1: Get on the ground! Get on the ground!
Officer 2: I got taser. I got taser.
Officer 1: Get on the ground. [crosstalk].
Speaker 2: Oh, goddamn it. [crosstalk][shouting] I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe, you guys. [pained shouting]
Officer 2: Do not start. Do not. Do not [crosstalk].
Speaker 3: What are you doing to us? Why are you [crosstalk] why he was [inaudible] again, [crosstalk] why won’t you help us?
Officer 2: [inaudible] – Hold onto this. Hang onto her so I can put this away. [inaudible].
Speaker 3: Why won’t you help us?
[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]
Taya Graham: So what we have here is an example of why policing is such a fraught process, and why trust is often missing from the relationship between officers and the community. That’s because the failure of police to take Logering’s concern seriously led to ever-escalating tensions that resulted in yet another problematic arrest. What I mean is, instead of actually working with the couple who had legitimate and documented concerns, police ignored them, criminalized their fears, and ensnared them into the same legal system they were turning to for help. Soon we will be joined by the couple to discuss the long-term consequences of their treatment by their local police department, and what it says about rural policing in general. But first I’m joined by my reporting partner Stephen Janis, who has been investigating the case, reaching out to the police for comment. Stephen, thank you for joining us
Stephen Janis: Taya, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Taya Graham Stephen, you’ve been reviewing the documents, and there is a lot to review. What did they tell you about this case, and why did police act so aggressively against Mr. Logering?
Stephen Janis: Well, it’s a complicated case, but with a very simple thing missing, which is exactly what justified such an aggressive assault on their home. They were home already. They were sitting in their house, and when I looked through the documents, I didn’t really see any sort of sense that police felt that they were armed or had any weapons, or any sort of threat to anyone outside of their home. So the documents talk about a very complicated set of events, but don’t really shine any light on why they had such an aggressive response to it.
Taya Graham: And what were the charges against the couple? What did the police allege, and what happened to their respective cases?
Stephen Janis: Well, what’s really interesting about this case is if you look at the charging documents, most of the charges against them have to do with what happened once police stormed inside their house. Which raises a lot of questions, because basically what you’re saying is that their response to how police behaved is really what the charges are against them, and I think that’s really questionable. We’ll talk to Wendy and Mike later about what happened once the charges went to court. But I think that raises serious questions about the legitimacy of these charges.
Taya Graham: So finally, you’ve reached out to police for their take on the story. What was their response?
Stephen Janis: Well, I sent questions to the police, very, very specific. What justified raiding their house, knocking down the door, and storming in. I haven’t heard back, but that’s the question that has to be answered about this case. I think it’s very, very, very difficult to come up with a reason why they have to knock down a door. It’s a very dangerous, dangerous police tactic. Why take a dangerous police tactic when there’s no imminent threat? That was another question. What was the imminent threat that justified a SWAT-like raid? I’m waiting. When I hear back, hopefully I’ll be able to put something in the comments and enlighten people as to why this happened.
Taya Graham: And now to share more on their concerns about how police have handled their case and what they think needs to be done to improve law enforcement in their community, I’m joined by Wendy Acker and Mike Logering. Thank you both for joining us.
Mike Logering: Thank you for having us.
Wendy Acker: Thank you for having us.
Taya Graham: So tell me what happened to precipitate Mike’s arrest. You were working on your truck in the driveway, right? What happened next?
Mike Logering: So we were working our truck for, I don’t know how many hours that day, and the last half hour, 45 minutes or so, we were both outside. I was under the truck and working on driveline and stuff, and Wendy was running me tools back and forth. And she noticed that Luke was sitting in his truck at the end of the driveway kind of watching us and stuff, and we didn’t feel very comfortable. So we decided we were going to clean up our tools and go in the house and maybe try again the next day, and…
Wendy Acker: Mike had a restraining order against this guy. And that was about a year before that, and we had made five police reports trying to tell the police that he had been harassing us five different times, and the police would not do anything. So he tried 911 at that point.
Mike Logering: At some point he had called 911 and that part of that had happened during the scuffle between me and him, and…
Wendy Acker: When we went back to our house.
Mike Logering: Anyways, yeah. Tried to go back to the house again.
Wendy Acker: Then the police officer pulled into the driveway really quick. Once again, we were scared of the police because we’ve tried reporting this many times and they wouldn’t do anything [crosstalk]
Mike Logering: – Threatening us previous to this. So we were scared of what they were going to do, and so we were just trying to get in the house and trying to get to a safe spot at that point.
Wendy Acker: The officer never identified himself.
Mike Logering: As yeah, he never identified himself.
Wendy Acker: He never told us to stop. And we all walked into the house and it was myself, Mike, his mother, his brother, and his sister. There were five of us. And we all walked into the house. And then the one police officer, Officer McDonald from Morrison County, came and tried to kick in the door at that time.
Mike Logering: And then as soon as he turned away from the door, I tried to open the door and tell them that I had a restraining order on Luke and he pointed his pistol at me right away and that scared me. So I shut the door, and that was the end of that part of that conversation. Because he was scared for me and I didn’t know what to do. And…
Taya Graham: So there are terrible screams coming from inside the house. What were the officers doing to you behind closed doors?
Mike Logering: Well, we were scared out of our minds at that point.
Wendy Acker: Scared for our lives.
Mike Logering: Scared to death. We were all having panic attacks and stuff, I guess you could say. So they come running in the house. As soon as their feet hit the door, I already knew I was screwed. So I laid face down on the ground. I threw my hands behind my back right away and I just laid there as still as I could.
A state trooper, he ran up and he put his boot on the side of my neck right away, and then the other officers came up and started kicking me in my side and stomping on my back and kicking me in my legs. And that happened for about 10 seconds. And then one of the officers put the handcuffs on me. He put the handcuffs on me, and as soon as the cuffs were on, then trooper Owens took his foot off of my neck, and then put one knee on my neck and the other knee in between my shoulders, the other two officers were still kicking me, and I don’t know. Then they got me to my feet and I wanted to give Wendy a kiss, and they said, no way.
I said yes, yes and then you can hear the smack sound. And that was, I don’t know. I think it was officer McDonald. He grabbed my throat and he just swung and grabbed my throat. And you can hear it in the video. And then I start freaking out and I start flailing a little bit cause I can’t breathe, he’s choking off my airway and stuff and it’s scary. What I did was I put my feet on the wall and I pushed a little bit. And the two officers who were standing behind me and grabbing me all over and choking me and pulling my hair and stuff, I pushed on the wall a little bit with my feet and all three of us tipped over, and that’s where they came up with this assault on a peace officer. They said I was kicking them, even though Wendy is on one side of me and my mom’s on the other side of me, and they didn’t see me do no such thing.
Wendy Acker: I was about 15 feet away right in the next room. But I could see the whole thing happen too. And his mom in the video was the one who was screaming and saying, get off our neck, stop hurting him, and please don’t hurt us. She said, don’t hurt me either.
When they came in the door, as soon as they jumped on me, there were a couple more officers. They came and stood by Wendy and my little brother, and two other officers grabbed my mom and threw her on the couch. And she just had back surgery, it jolted her so bad that the scab came off her incision where she had her surgery.
Wendy Acker: So you can hear them kind of tussling her around too. And then they came and arrested me and then, oh, oh, go ahead.
Mike Logering: Back up just a second. Okay, so then they got me back to my they’re, still grabbing and pawing at my throat and stuff and they came out the door with me. They got me bent over and they’re trying to push my hands up over behind my head, and that really hurt and made it a lot harder to breathe and stuff. Well, then they’re standing behind me, one on each side, and I don’t know if you were able to catch that in the video. They smashed, they grabbed me by each side, and they sped up and they smashed my face into the squad car. And there’s a couple different views of that. You can see the squad car wiggle and you can see in the left corner of the video that they did aggressively hit my face on the squad., And so I got a boot mark on my back and there was a cut on my shin and stuff from where they’re kind of kicking and stomping on me. And then they get me out to the squad car and then they decide to arrest Wendy.
Wendy Acker: Then they decide to arrest me, saying that I was obstructing justice and trying to stop them from arresting Mike. But I wasn’t. I was nowhere near there. And I think they got me mixed up with his mother, because she was the one kind of closer to the door and closer to Mike and hollering at them and trying to get them to stop hurting him. But I was further back. And then they just decided to arrest me. And when they arrested me, they grabbed my arms and pulled me up by both my arms. So I was up in the corner of a cabinet, like a foot off of the ground and they twisted my shoulder and caused a torn rotator cuff on my shoulder.
Taya Graham: So what are you charged with?
Mike Logering: So I was charged with second degree assault with a dangerous weapon, fourth degree assault of a peace officer, third degree damage to property, fifth degree assault inflicted or attempted bodily harm.
Wendy Acker: That’s all.
Mike Logering: That’s all.
Wendy Acker: That’s four.
Mike Logering: That’s the four charges they had brought against me, and I was only convicted of the fifth degree assault. Our public defenders, they guaranteed we were going to prison no matter what. And you know, we didn’t like that, and I decided that I wanted to try to get a private lawyer. And we scrimped and saved and borrowed from everybody, sold everything. We had to come up with this retainer fee, and Caroline Field was her name. She took the money and promised to help. And then as soon as she saw the videos and knew that I wanted to talk about how I don’t think I was lawfully detained and arrested. I think they violated my rights and…
Wendy Acker: Put you in a choke hold lock.
Mike Logering: They were using choke holds and stuff on me. I know that law was in effect when they had done that. She didn’t want to talk about any of that. And shortly after that, she…
Wendy Acker: Three weeks before your trial.
Mike Logering: Three weeks before my trial…
Wendy Acker: She quit.
Mike Logering: She quit as my lawyer. She had promised three times previously to give me back my money, and she never did. She took my money. She quit as my lawyer. Then I was lawyer-less three weeks before trial. They put me with the same public defender who would not defend me in the first place. And then meanwhile, all the time, Wendy’s public defender was threatening me.
Taya Graham: How has this experience changed how you see law enforcement?
Wendy Acker: Well, emotionally and personally, we’re scared for our lives that the police will retaliate. Especially if we try to make it public at all. They follow us around. With the date that he signed his plea agreement… We were living 50 miles away just to get away from all of this, and we were in a different county, and they kicked us off of our property, this new city…
Mike Logering: The local police.
Wendy Acker: The local police.
Mike Logering: At our new place.
Wendy Acker: So they’re still tracking us, like kind of watching us and trying to get us to move away.
Taya Graham: Now, this is usually part of the show where I take a recent example of police malfeasance and break it down in a way that provides context to the topic at hand. In other words, I try to find an example of police malfeasance that will further illustrate the point I’m trying to make about why law enforcement has to change and what we all can do to facilitate it.
But today I’d like to approach the theme of our show, over policing, from a broader perspective. Especially because, as we’ve seen consistently on the show, the process which fuels bad policing is rarely examined from an existential perspective that goes beyond the rhetoric of law and order. Meaning we simply can’t accept that the processes that define policing are beyond reproach and all we need to do is tweak the particulars to make things better. But thanks to a recent investigation by The New York Times, we actually have some very helpful and far reaching data about this strategy that has become the linchpin of American policing that deserves some thorough analysis: the pretextual car stop.
Of course, anyone who has watched this show knows that we have reported on a litany of questionable car stops. Some that have resulted in false arrests. It’s actually such a common problem with our viewers that we could easily turn this show into – And I’m not even kidding – Into the Car Stop Accountability Report. But what The New York Times found actually provides a critical perspective on what drives pretextual car stops, but also what makes them so dangerous. In fact, despite propaganda that car stops are more dangerous for police than civilians, it turns out that the opposite is true. In fact, The Times investigation found that over a period of roughly five years, nearly 400 unarmed motorists were shot and killed by police during a car stop.
Mind you, these were not people accused of violent crimes, or robbery sprees, or other manners of mayhem. No, most were pulled over for a broken tail light, or rolling through a stop line, or for some other – Forgive my French – BS infraction, which is why The Times also reported that some police chiefs are considering rolling back the practice. However, these same law enforcement officials did not want to go on the record out of fear of reprisal for a policy that has been unpopular with the police unions.
Wait. You mean police chiefs managing cops paid for by taxpayers can’t discuss a very dangerous public policy out of fear? Fear of what I wonder. While The Times said police unions have been pushing back against anyone who tries to roll back random car stops. And of course we can’t forget our friends in the mainstream media, who, as we’ve said before, are always willing – Except The Times in this case – To bolster any police policy that engenders just enough fear to keep the clicks and the ad dollars rolling in.
But what really disturbs me about this story is not just the pushback, but something deeper and more pervasive. That’s because the one thing missing from the debate over car stops is an essential part of any effective form of policing. The evidence. That is, there is very little evidence that making a bunch of car stops, or even making less, has any impact on crime. In other words, like most police policies, we have very little understanding if a particular strategy works and if the benefit of using it outweighs the cost, which in this case would be 400 lives lost.
I think my point here is that the rhetoric that informs the debate over policing seems almost purposefully hostile to asking a fundamental question: Does any of it work? Do more cops mean less crime? Do more arrests make a city safer? Do proactive car stops for minor traffic infractions really accomplish anything? As someone who reports on policing quite regularly, I feel like we carry on a one-sided conversation continually within the same set of parameters. Let’s call it the All or Nothing Dilemma. Either you embrace and support the police in whatever you do, or, simply, you’re against them in every form or fashion. And thus, you’re an anti-American liberal socialist cuck who doesn’t back the blue.
Seriously? I mean, why can’t we ask questions? Why can’t we delve into the data? Why can’t we debate whether we want to be subject to random police powers and indiscriminate arrests? I am tired of being accused of being hateful or anti-American because I ask questions and expect the Constitution and Bill of Rights to be respected. That would be like saying I hate all sanitation workers because I was upset that instead of taking my trash, they dumped a truck worth of garbage onto me and my car. I would have a right to be angry, but that wouldn’t mean that I would hate everyone who’s ever worked for the sanitation department. Who actually thinks that way? Case in point is a book I worked on with Stephen almost a decade ago called Why Do We Kill? The Pathology of Murder in Baltimore.
Now, we wrote this book with a cop, a former homicide supervisor named Kelvin Sewell. But before we wrote a single word, we decided it wasn’t going to be another book glorifying a cop and focusing on a bunch of horrific cases. Instead, we wanted to try to answer a question at the root of much of the dysfunction in our city: Why do people here regularly pick up a gun and point it at someone else? It’s a question we tried to answer ,and in some respects we did. But without going into details, I think what’s more important is that we asked the question in the first place. In other words, instead of starting with foregone conclusions on what causes violence, we sought to understand and seek answers. Answers that would perhaps offer a new perspective. We thought by asking to understand a phenomenon, we could actually offer better solutions to fix it. Which is why the rhetoric and debate surrounding police is so… For lack of a better word, nihilistic.
I mean, just asking the questions as we did in the book was considered by many police partisans to be offensive. We received comments like, who cares why someone commits a crime, we just need more arrests. Or, you are just coddling criminals, stop asking questions and start supporting the police. Or, are you siding with criminals? It’s sort of the same refrain we’ve seen from police unions on a variety of reform issues around the country: Stop asking questions, stop trying to understand a problem, and just trust us. I mean, a bunch of police chiefs were literally afraid to discuss why car stops might be a bad policy because of the same lack of curiosity that, for some reason, seems to arise from the same institution: policing. And the whole point seems to be that you have the right to remain silent.
But from our perspective, asking questions is not just critical to improving our beleaguered criminal justice system. It’s also crucial to maintaining a vibrant and responsive democracy. Being able to challenge assumptions and raise critiques of public policy is not just essential to good governance, it is a key component of freedom. In fact, it is the root of one of the oldest methods of philosophizing known to human civilization, otherwise known as the Socratic method of inquiry, where ideas are explored to a series of questions rather than assertions. The point is we have to break down the rhetoric of force and replace it with reason. We need to challenge the idea that there is nothing left to learn about human behavior. And mostly, we must respect the rights of the people to question when, why, and how they are policed. Or, as the rarely quoted Ninth Amendment of the Constitution states: “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” I think you see my point.
I want to thank my guests Wendy and Mike for speaking with me and for sharing their experience with us. Thank you both for your time. And of course I want to thank Intrepid reporter Stephen Janis for his impeccable writing, research, and editing on this piece. Thank you, Stephen.
Stephen Janis: Taya, Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Taya Graham: And I want to thank mods of the show Noli Dee and Lacey R for their support. Thank you both. And a very special thanks to our Patreons. We appreciate you, and I look forward to thanking each and every one of you personally in our next live stream. And I want you watching to know that if you have evidence of police misconduct or brutality, please share it with us and we might be able to investigate for you.
Please reach out to us. You can email us tips privately at email@example.com and share your evidence of police misconduct. You can also message us at Police Accountability Report on Facebook or Instagram, or @eyesonpolice on Twitter. And of course, you can always message me directly @tayasbaltimore on Facebook and Twitter. And please like and comment. I do read your comments and appreciate them, and I try to answer your questions when I can. And we do have a Patreon link pinned in the comments below, so if you do feel inspired to donate, we don’t run ads or take corporate dollars. So anything you can spare is truly appreciated. My name is Taya Graham, and I’m your host of the Police Accountability Report. Please be safe out there.