Muskegon releases report of investigation into officer with KKK item
MUSKEGON, Mich. — Muskegon has released its 421-page report in the investigation of a police officer who was fired after a KKK application was found inside his home.
Charles Anderson was terminated Sept. 12 after being placed on leave in August while the police department conducted an internal investigation into his conduct. The investigation started after a couple touring a home Anderson is trying to sell found the item hanging on a wall.
Robert and Reyna Mathis shared a photo of the KKK item to Facebook, which received thousands of shares and ultimately led to him being fired.
The report says Anderson was interviewed Aug. 13 about the KKK application and Confederate memorabilia found in the home. He claimed the Confederate items are part of an extensive “Dukes of Hazard” memorabilia collection, and his love for the show is the sole reason he has the items.
Anderson said he bought the KKK document about six years ago because he has a passion for U.S. history from the late 1800s to the 1960s, the report says. He described himself as an amateur historian and collector of antique items, which is why he bought and hung the document.
Anderson adamantly denied being a member of the Ku Klux Klan, according to the report.
Police interviewed Anderson’s realtor, who said she knew Anderson and his wife for 25 years and backed up his claim of being an avid antique collector. The realtor said she never received instructions on who to not sell the home to and never was told to not sell the home to people of color.
The Mathises’ realtor was also interviewed, and said she met up with the couple after the abruptly exited the home during the tour and heard the couple talking about Anderson being a police officer. The report says she asked the couple if they knew him and claims Robert Mathis said, “yeah we know him (or of him), we know who he is.”
Police records show Anderson and several encounters with Robert and Reyna Mathis dating back to 2008.
The couple denied having any memory of those interactions.
During a traffic stop in July 2008, Anderson pulled the couple over for speeding. An incident report referenced in the department’s investigation says Robert and Reyna Mathis got out of their vehicle during the stop, ultimately leading to Reyna Mathis striking Anderson in the face and eye.
She was arrested and ultimately pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer.
Anderson arrested Reyna Mathis again in October 2009 after she was allegedly involved in a bar fight in Muskegon. The city’s report says Anderson took her into custody on two outstanding warrants, but didn’t say anything further on the fight.
Anderson was also called to the couple’s home multiple times for domestic disputes. No charges were filed in any of the incidents.
Several performance reviews were included in the city’s report. In all of them, Anderson received high marks. He was referenced as “a good example for others to follow” and received compliments for his professionalism.
Anderson was placed on leave in two other instances during his career at the Muskegon Police Department, both for firing his service weapon. He was cleared of wrongdoing in both incidents.
Ultimately, Muskegon Police Chief Jeffrey Lewis decided to fire Anderson after the investigation and meetings with leaders in the faith-based social justice community.
In Lewis’ executive summary, he said they “have lost faith, confidence and trust in Officer Anderson.” He went on to say the leaders told him the city would go “wild” if Anderson was reinstated.