By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON TOWNSHIP — The former Benton Township police officer being charged in connection with the death of a pedestrian says he has been wronged.
Eugene Anderson, who has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge, took the podium during public comment at the Benton Township Trustees meeting where he claimed he had been railroaded by the township and its police chief.
“There’s more information that you on the board don’t know about. You didn’t want to know, so you let them railroad me,” Anderson said. “You three (referring to Clerk Carolyn Phillips, Supervisor Kevin White and Treasurer Debbie Boothby) let them railroad me out of here. The community is going to find out.”
Anderson continued to say Police Chief Vince Fetke railroaded him and that because of it, he would be attending court Wednesday to “fight for his freedom.”
Previous reports of the incident say Anderson was responding to a domestic violence call, driving 30 mph over the speed limit when he hit and killed a pedestrian in September.
Fetke has said in previous Herald-Palladium articles Anderson was fired “as a result of violations of departmental policies and/or rules and regulations.”
Anderson said he has a civil suit coming against the township. Anderson was wearing a T-shirt representing the Coalition for Change and Justice – a citizens group made up of Benton Harbor and township residents.
“There are police officers that are scared to talk because there is someone over there misusing their power,” Anderson said. “If you think that I’m gonna just go away easy, that’s not going to happen.”
Anderson was shouting at times, while trustees listened or looked away.
A few township residents also took the podium, urging trustees to do something about crime in the area and to look into the township’s police department. Residents said they were tired of seeing “black-on-black crime” and referred to the township as a “small Ferguson, Missouri.”
While trustees remained quiet and allowed residents to speak their minds, it was White who made a statement at the end of the meeting in response to an alleged incident involving a Benton Township police officer on the Sunday morning shooting in Benton Harbor.
“I grew up here just like all of you. The same day that that happened, my phone was ringing,” White said. “People were calling me and telling me what’s going on. I called Chief Fetke directly when I heard this. I have talked to Chief Fetke and we are trying to get to the bottom of the situation. What I’m trying to tell you is it’s not falling on deaf ears.”
The next Township Board meeting will be at 5:30 p.m., Nov. 17 at township hall.
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 4, 2015)