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Walmart employee charged after confrontation with customer in Crookston

CROOKSTON—A Walmart employee will face a criminal case related to a confrontation with a customer last weekend in Crookston.

The Crookston City Attorney's Office has filed a complaint in Polk County District Court against 53-year-old Patricia Mendrano of Grand Forks, according to a news release issued Friday afternoon by the Crookston Police Department. She will be charged with disorderly conduct, the release said.

The Herald was unable to obtain the criminal complaint for this case since the Polk County Courthouse closed at 4:30 p.m. Friday, just minutes after the release was issued. The Minnesota Judicial Branch website also was in the process of being updated Friday evening into Monday morning, so the Herald was unable to see when Mendrano was expected to appear in court.

But police said they investigated allegations that Mendrano assaulted 25-year-old Joshua Baatz of Crookston Sunday evening at Walmart in Crookston. Baatz claimed Mendrano knocked a cellphone out of his hand during a conversation while the employee was reviewing the customer's receipt, the release said.

A video posted by Baatz doesn't show the customer's face, but his voice can apparently be heard while he is speaking with Mendrano, who said in the video she wasn't accusing Baatz of anything.

"If you want to be an idiot, you can go ahead and be an idiot," Mendrano said in the video.

Medrano looked into the cellphone camera before it spiraled to the ground. She then said, "Oh, it fell. I'm sorry."

An employee at the Crookston Walmart said he could not comment on whether Mendrano was still an employee with the store.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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