Oakdale police officer charged with harassment, placed on leave
An Oakdale police officer has been criminally charged with harassment and misconduct by a public officer after he allegedly called a person with mental health issues repeatedly.
Court document state that 41-year-old Charles Anthony Nelson is charged with two counts of harassment and one count of misconduct by a public officer — all gross misdemeanors. He’s currently on administrative leave as he awaits his first court hearing, which is scheduled for Jan. 26.
According to a criminal complaint, Nelson and his partner went to surveil a home on Greystone Avenue and were told to not engage the resident because he had known mental health issues, had an active felony arrest warrant and his family was working with the department and other agencies to get him help. Additionally, officers knew the man had guns and had recently made threats.
However, shortly after midnight, Nelson downloaded an application to mask his number and started calling the man they were surveilling, the complaint states. When the man answered, Nelson didn’t say anything and when the man called the number back, Nelson denied calling him.
Records show Nelson called the man at least 22 times between 12:30 a.m. and 3:03 a.m. on Sept. 23, the complaint states, further irritating the man who at one point reported the unwanted calls to dispatchers and said he just wanted to sleep.
At one point, the man came out of his home holding a shotgun, which led officers to call SWAT.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS previously reported on the ensuing standoff that ended with the man’s arrest at around 12:45 p.m. on Sept. 23.
The complaint notes that Nelson never reported that he was the source of the calls. Five days later, Nelson’s partner reported to a sergeant that Nelson was the one who called the man repeatedly and expressed his belief that the calls escalated the man’s behavior, court documents state.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was called to investigate and Nelson was placed on leave, the complaint states. However, he confirmed that he made the calls to “build rapport” and said he never identified himself as the caller because he didn’t want to scare the man, the complaint states.
“I commend Chief Newton and the Oakdale Police Department for taking swift action in this matter and for recognizing the significance and gravity of the allegations,” Washington County Attorney Kevin Magnuson said in a statement.
If convicted, each charge carries up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine.