MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The story of the Muskegon police officer who had Confederate and Ku Klux Klan items in his home has drawn national attention as the department continues its internal review.
At this point, there is still no definitive word or explanation as to why a more than 20-year police veteran would have items connected to white supremacy in his home, especially after he opened it up to the public for sale.
But with all the controversy surrounding the incident, there is sure to be some impact.
Charles “Chuck” Anderson remains on suspension as the internal investigation continues.
But the question is already coming up: how will it impact the cases he has investigated?
“It’s hard to really put that in a cookie-cutter fashion and say it affects all cases this way,” said Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson. “It would create enough of an issue where every case would have to be evaluated and a determination made as to how deep of an issue the prosecutor’s office now has to deal with.”
During his more than 22 years on the force, Anderson has been a patrol officer, so he is not usually the person involved in any detailed investigation.
One case that Anderson was deeply involved in was in September 2009 when he shot and killed 31-year-old Julius “Ju-Ju” Johnson. Johnson fled from a car after a downtown Muskegon traffic stop, leading Anderson on a chase after the suspect allegedly dropped a bag of cocaine.
In a fight detailed in a 20-page report by then Muskegon County Prosecutor Tony Tague, Johnson managed to disarm Anderson of his pepper spray, radio and baton and used them to beat Anderson as detailed in a photo from 2009.
Anderson then shot and killed Johnson. He was acquitted after a Michigan State Police investigation.
At the time, Johnson’s sister, Tunisia Phillips, said that her brother had begged for his life before the officer shot him. She was convicted of lying to police and spent three months in jail.
News 8 tracked down Phillips on Friday but she did not want to go on camera.
She remains on supervised release after pleading guilty in federal court to committing perjury before a grand jury in 2016 and was sentenced to two years in prison and three years of probation.
Prosecutor D.J. Hilson said he sees no reason that case should be reviewed — but he’s open to looking at it if needed.
“We have a legal moral and ethical duty to not only substantiate that new evidence but to further investigate if it shows that in fact there might have been a different outcome, had that evidence been known,” Hilson said.
Whether there is a reasonable explanation for Anderson having items connected to white supremacy in his home remains to be seen. But the case is already sending ripples through the community.
“Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, everybody’s entitled to be angry as a result of this,” said Hilson, adding that he is in the same boat as the rest of the community, waiting to hear what the police internal investigation reveals.
But he makes one thing clear.
“First and foremost, obviously, the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office does not condone racist behavior or conduct, we just don’t condone it whatsoever,” Hilson said.
Hilson believes police will do a thorough and transparent investigation that will hopefully satisfy the questions of the citizens.
Muskegon Police have given no timeline as to when that investigation will be completed.
“This, obviously, I don’t know how far back it pushes us but certainly, it doesn’t push us forward,” Hilson said.
Hilson said it’s more important than ever for law enforcement to reach out to the community and to groups like Muskegon’s Social Justice Commission, on which he has a seat, along with police and community leaders.
“I guarantee you, our next meeting we’re going to have a conversation about this,” Hilson said. “It is, it’s upsetting, it’s an area that is in the forefront, it’s an area we need to continue to work on.”