Ex-cop’s setback

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Former Detroit cop John Bennett concedes the Michigan Court of Appeals has dealt him a setback, but he's still set on returning to the force and continuing the Web site that's been a thorn in the department — and the city's — side.

Bennett, whose saga News Hits has followed since the beginning, and as recently as last month, was suspended from the force and then fired for refusing to shut down a Web site calling for the canning of then top cop Jerry Oliver. He's spent a good part of the last three years fighting to get his job back — pushing his case with both the Michigan Employee Relations Commission and the courts.

Last week the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the city of Detroit, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and former Police Chief Oliver all have governmental immunity with respect to Bennett's firing.

"On one hand I can't blame the court, because they have to rule on the law as they know it," Bennett told News Hits, following the ruling. "On the other hand, when you see the stupid things that city governments can do, and then allow them to hide behind governmental immunity — there's a real problem with that."

He said he still has a case before MERC to reclaim his job, which he said is slated for further review next month. The court case considered last week, however, might have won damages from the city had it been successful.

Bennett launched a Web site in 2002 that called for governmental reform and the dismissal of former Chief of Police Jerry Oliver. With Oliver gone — he resigned after running afoul of gun laws with unregistered heat at Metro Airport — the site has become detroituncovered.com, a general exposé site about the city and its government.

The city, not surprisingly, claimed a victory last week. Bennett, at his Web site, writes, "It's only a matter of time before I am returned to work."

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]
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