VALLEY CITY, N.D.-The family of an elderly Valley City man who died recently at a Fargo hospital, one week after being detained and jailed for DUI, has consulted an attorney to look into circumstances of his arrest and incarceration.
Warren Lindvold, 72, was arrested in the early morning hours of July 15, after a Valley City police officer saw his vehicle drifting back and forth and twice hitting a curb.
According to the police report, Lindvold also left the initial traffic stop, before the officer was able to pull him over a second time.
Lindvold was taken to the Valley City Police Department, Barnes County Jail, to CHI Mercy Hospital in Valley City, then back to jail.
At some point after, he was taken back to the hospital, then to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, where he died July 21.
When contacted by The Forum, Lindvold's only sibling, LuAnn Janssen of Boulder, Colo., didn't want to say much about her brother's death.
Her husband Don Janssen said Lindvold's death is "under investigation" and that he'd spoken with a Fargo attorney about it.
Longtime family friend Gene Wolsky from rural Oriska, said it's his understanding, after talking with family, that Lindvold died from complications of a broken neck, sustained at some point during or after his arrest and incarceration.
"If it wouldn't be for Valley City police, he'd be alive today," Wolsky said.
Don Janssen was asked by The Forum whether he agreed with that assessment.
"That's a true statement," Janssen said.
The police report lists as evidence a video recording of the arrest.
When asked July 31 to speak with Valley City Police Chief Phil Hatcher, someone in the department said he was unavailable.
Lindvold was disabled
Wolsky's wife Joan said Lindvold was disabled by a progressive arthritis condition he'd dealt with since high school.
She said his spine had been fused from about the waist up since a young age, and that he had to turn his whole body to talk to anyone.
"Warren's neck hasn't moved for 50 years," Joan Wolsky said.
Even so, he was socially active, going to the local cafe for coffee often.
The police report listed him as 6 feet, 1 inch tall and 150 pounds, and Joan Wolsky said he had trouble getting into a booth at the cafe.
"The cops all knew this tall skinny guy couldn't move. I cannot understand how they could mistreat somebody they saw every day," she said.
Chief Deputy Don Fiebiger with the Barnes County Sheriff's Office referred questions about Lindvold's incarceration to county State's Attorney Carl Martineck, who is away from the office.
When asked who is in charge of the jail, Fiebiger said Sheriff Randy McClaflin is technically, however, Julie Forsman is the jail administrator.
A call to the jail indicated Forsman has been on maternity leave since July 7, prior to Lindvold's arrest.
Report: Walked on his own power
According to the police report, Officer Christopher W. Olson spotted a tan Buick Lacrosse in the 300 block of Main St. E. in Valley City at 12:42 a.m. Sunday, July 15.
After being pulled over, the officer said Lindvold consented to a preliminary breath test, but that during multiple attempts, wasn't able to blow steadily or get a good seal. The officer arrested Lindvold based on his balance problems, alcohol odor and performance on field sobriety tests.
After being told he'd be put in a squad car, the officer said Lindvold refused to cooperate, and he and Sgt. Wade Hannig each took a hold of his arms and placed him in the car.
The report also noted that when Lindvold complained of shoulder pain and was taken to CHI Mercy Hospital, he was medically cleared and that he walked out of the hospital on his own power, with officers only helping him to maintain his balance.
Lindvold was a retired farmer who was never married and lived alone.
Joan Wolsky described him and his sister as great folks, who'd "give the shirt off your back and see if they could round up another one."
"It's sad. It's just downright sad," she said, of his death.