Authorities in Michigan may review a white police officer’s fatal shooting of a black man in 2009 after an alleged Ku Klux Klan document was seen on display at the officer’s house. Muskegon Police Officer Charles Anderson was placed on paid administrative leave after a house hunter who was viewing the officer’s home said he saw a framed Ku Klux Klan application and multiple Confederate flags.
The Muskegon Police Department opened an internal investigation after Robert Mathis, who is black, posted a picture of the document on Facebook after touring Anderson’s Holton-area home, which was for sale. “I was just so disgusted,” Mathis told MLive.com. “I told my son, ‘let’s go, we’re getting out of here. This is a Klan house, really, we have to go right now.’ It was basically telling me, whites only to purchase his house.”
Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson said the investigation’s results will drive reconsideration of the 2009 case, according to MLive.com. “Whether or not officer Anderson has racist tendencies or not, would that move the needle one way or another? I guess I can’t answer that question,” Hilson told the newspaper. “I don’t know. I need a completed internal investigation.”
The paper reported that Anderson was cleared of fatally shooting a black man, Julius Johnson, 23, following a traffic stop in 2009. Johnson had scuffled with Anderson, who was beaten in the head.
Anderson said he feared for his life, according to the findings of an investigation report created by then-Muskegon County Prosecutor Tony Tague. Following Mathis’ allegations, Anderson, who has been on the force more than 20 years, was put on leave indefinitely, City Manager Frank Peterson said Thursday.
Anderson told MLive.com he was advised not to comment amid the investigation. His wife, Rachael Anderson, told WOOD-TV her husband isn’t a Klan member.
“He can’t say anything right now. I wish we could because it would probably set a lot of things straight,” Rachael Anderson told the television station when a reporter came to the couple’s door.
The police department is doing its due diligence with the investigation, Chief Jeffrey Lewis told MLive.com. Lewis was not sure if an officer keeping such items in his home would violate department policies.
“The emotional health and safety of this community is what is most important to me,” Lewis said Friday, adding that the city and county “are very serious about this.” The Muskegon Police Department Policy and Procedure Order states that officers’ decorum and behavior should not “undercut public trust” in the department.
It also said officers shall “perform all duties impartially, without favor or affection or ill will and without regard to status, sex, race, religion, political belief or aspiration,” according to MLive.com.
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