Julie Swidwa, Herald Palladium "reporter," is expert in making up stories out of nearly nothing
In this case, she's able to draw out and sensationalize the story of a man with a cracked car windshield being chased at high speed by a cop. Not that there isn't reason to report this event. But her take on it is to demonize yet another Benton Harbor resident, and emphasize criminality in every small crevice of the actions of a poor, living-on-the-edge, African American. You go Julie. What a
brilliant career you've created for yourself, convincing readers that BH is nothing but a crime scene filled with "throw away people."
Going by the article's tone, one would think a world-class crime syndicate started operating in BH. On and on she can go, enlarging details which will keep BH residents in fear.
The real story needing to be honestly reported in Berrien County is about cops out of control, a court system acting illegally on a daily basis, a population under seige, and desperate poverty where jobs have been outsourced.
Can anyone imagine, in their wildest dreams, cops setting a dog on a St. Joe resident?
Swidwa is one of the prime players in the creation of institutionalized racism in St. Joe/BH. It's the Mission Statement of the Herald Palladium.
Cracked windshield leads to chase, four-car wreck in Benton Harbor
County, BH officers hurt after man evading Benton Twp. police crashes into unmarked squad car, three others
By J. Swidwa H-P Staff Writer March 2, 2011
BENTON HARBOR - A police chase that started in Benton Township Tuesday morning ended in the city of Benton Harbor with two policemen injured and one man taken to jail.
The pursuit ended on Columbus Avenue near Foster Avenue after the car that was being chased by Benton Township police hit an unmarked city police car that was not involved in the chase and three parked cars.
Benton Harbor Police Detective Wesley Smigielski and Berrien County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Hopkins were together in the city police car on unrelated business when their car was hit by the fleeing vehicle. They were taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center, St. Joseph, by Medic 1 ambulance and were released after treatment, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The chase started shortly before 11 a.m. after Benton Township Patrolman Wesley Koza tried to stop a vehicle on M-139 near Pipestone Street because it had a cracked windshield, Benton Township Deputy Chief Carl DeLand said. He said that as Koza was getting out of his police car, the car he had stopped took off fast.
A pursuit began that wound through several streets in the city, ending on Columbus Avenue after the fleeing car hit the city police car and the other cars, DeLand said. The driver got out of his car and fled on foot but was caught by Benton Township's police dog, Jitka.
Samuel Willie Brown, 25, of Benton Harbor was taken to Lakeland to be treated for a dog bite and then was arrested, DeLand said. He faces charges of fleeing and eluding police, resisting and obstructing police, driving while license suspended and violating probation. According to Michigan Department of Corrections records, Brown was placed on 18 months' probation in July after pleading guilty to assault and larceny charges in Berrien County.
DeLand said Brown had a passenger, Lashay Taylor, 20, of Benton Harbor, and that she had appeared to have been "tossed out of the car" during the chase. She declined medical treatment, he said.
Regarding the injuries to the policemen, DeLand said, "We're relieved that nobody was seriously injured. It's unfortunate that two officers were injured, but in the big scheme of things we're grateful that the subject was apprehended."
Benton Harbor Police Chief Roger Lange said Tuesday afternoon that Smigielski and Hopkins both suffered bumps and bruises. He said Smigielski was "bounced around real good" and will be off work for a few days.
Lange said he will be looking into what happened and will talk with Benton Township authorities.
"I don't have an opinion because I wasn't there," Lange said Tuesday afternoon. "I don't have all the details. I will most definitely look into it and will have a conversation with them."
Lange said Benton Harbor has specific guidelines in the department's chase policy, and that when another department enters the city, "They operate on their own policy."
Lange and DeLand both said their departments' chase policies take into consideration a number of factors including the reason a person is being chased, the population of the area and whether people are in danger.
"If somebody is being kidnapped or murdered, you want to pursue," DeLand said. "It's a case-by-case basis and it depends on the circumstances. Safety is always a concern for everyone involved. Pursuits happen. That's part of law enforcement. Based on what was perceived and reported at the time of this incident, it appears justifiable."
DeLand said Koza initiated the traffic stop after noticing a vehicle with a cracked windshield. He said as Koza approached the vehicle on foot, it sped away. Koza started a chase, during which he was told by a dispatcher that the car was stolen and later told that was incorrect, DeLand said.
Also during the chase, Koza observed a female passenger being pushed out of the fleeing vehicle, DeLand said.
He said Brown lost control of his car while turning from Foster onto Columbus, sideswiping the unmarked city police car and hitting three parked cars.
DeLand said Brown told police that he ran because he was on probation and had a suspended license. Brown was taken to the Berrien County Jail to await arraignment on the charges from Tuesday. jswidwa@TheH-P.com