By Randi Beck
A meeting with Brian Ferguson, director of public safety, was the first thing on the agenda for Coleman Rude after he returned back to Marshall from Minnesota. Ferguson told Rude he might be able to help him as he was a witness to a crime. Confused, Rude went into the meeting thinking Ferguson would be asking him a few simple questions. The meeting took an odd turn when Ferguson changed his approach.
“He said the police were on the way. You’re being arrested for driving off without paying for gas,” Rude said. “I thought this is crazy. What had happened was I drove up to the pump, went inside to get a snack while my friend pumped the fuel. I walked back out and got in the passenger seat. My friend went in to get a snack and payed for his stuff, but forgot about the gas.”
Rude sat in Ferguson’s office and waited for the police, when they arrived he was put into handcuffs and walked across campus and put him into a police car. After arriving at the police station, the Marshall Police Department took down Rude’s information, watched the surveillance tape with Rude, and saw Rude wasn’t the one pumping the fuel.
“By the time we saw who was actually pumping the fuel, they had it paid for and taken care of. Casey’s didn’t want to pursue it,” Roger Gibson, Marshall Police Department public information officer said. “The charges have been dismissed.”
Rude said the experience was one he would not soon forget.
“I felt like a criminal,” he said. “I felt dehumanized. It was extremely embarrassing.”
Gibson said the officer working the case was simply operating off the evidence produced by the MPD investigation.
“The arresting officer was just following a lead,” Gibson said. “He had a Missouri Valley lanyard hanging from his rear view mirror. We ran the plates and got the car information and it lead him to the school.”
After watching the tape, Rude was released and free to go. Rude made an attempt to talk to the attendant at the gas station, but she was unavailable. Rude will next meet with Ferguson, and Heath Morgan, Vice President of student affairs to discuss the incident.