The complaint is connected to a late afternoon traffic stop conducted Aug. 15 by Officers Kaden Oldham and Eric Zimmel along Eighth Street South near Concordia College. According to a police report, they stopped Shields-Dixon because she was going 44 mph in a 30 mph zone, an allegation she disputes.
Video from a Moorhead Police squad vehicle shows a heated exchange between the officers and Shields-Dixon before Zimmel attempts to pull on her driver-side door handle.
The door was locked.
Additional officers later arrived at the scene, but Shields-Dixon was eventually allowed to leave with speeding and lack of insurance citations. The insurance ticket was dismissed, but she pleaded not guilty to speeding, according to court records.
She is slated to go to trial later this month.
Since the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody in May, protesters have taken to the streets around the world — and in the Fargo-Moorhead area — to demand change in how law enforcement interacts with people of color. Stories that include allegations of misconduct by law enforcement also have become more prevalent in recent months.
According to Minnesota open record laws, Minnesota law agencies must acknowledge the existence and status of a complaint. Documents, if they exist, detailing the issuance of disciplinary action against officers and why they were disciplined would be public as well.
Documentation on disciplinary action does not exist in this incident, which suggests officers involved in this case were not disciplined.
Swenson said he didn’t know when the complaint was closed, but the department notified Shields-Dixon of its decision a few weeks ago.
The department couldn’t comment further on the complaint, Swenson said.
“I will say as complaints come in, we look at each and every independently, using all resources to gather facts as possible, to include video, interviews and other sources,” Swenson said. “We do not look at this as being adversarial and do not perform our reviews with ideations to form alliances or conflicts with any individual or group.”
Shields-Dixon said Black people don’t receive justice for bigger things, so “why would I expect any different from the Moorhead Police Department?”
“There’s still no justice, so there’ll be no peace,” she said. “There’s no justice for African-Americans all over this world.”
Shields-Dixon accused Moorhead officers of targeting her because of her affiliation with activism — she was wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt during the stop and had a similar sticker on her vehicle — and violating her rights. She said she believed Zimmel was trying to pull her out of her vehicle, causing her to fear for her life.
Officers said in police reports that Shields-Dixon was argumentative and refused to produce documentation for insurance and registration. In his report, Zimmel said he attempted to open the door because he saw Shields-Dixon reach toward the vehicle’s passenger side, making him concerned for officer safety.
He wanted to open the door to “obtain a better visual of her movements,” according to the report.