San Diego

Lawsuit: KPBS Staffers Assaulted Man After Disagreement on President Trump

Son of appellate court judge says he was attacked for defending President Trump’s policies

A man who says he was assaulted by staffers at San Diego’s public radio station over a disagreement about President Donald Trump has filed a lawsuit against San Diego State University, KPBS, as well as the public radio employee for assault, battery and negligent hiring.

Peter Benke, whose mother is appellate court judge Patricia Benke, filed the lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court on Sept. 4, 2019.

The lawsuit comes one year after Benke was involved in a fight on Sept. 6, 2018, at KPBS studios on San Diego State University’s campus.

As reported by NBC 7, Benke’s father Don Benke, an employee at KPBS, got into an argument with communications professor Peter Anderson. During the argument, witnesses told NBC 7 they heard Benke tell Anderson at least twice to not speak negatively about the president's policies.

Anderson reportedly responded by saying, "This isn't Nazi Germany."

Benke left the station. Not long after his son, Peter Benke, arrived and confronted Anderson. It was then that KPBS staffer Kevin Shrader and Benke got into a fight. Campus police cited both men for battery. The City Attorney’s Office told NBC 7 that no criminal charges were filed in either case.

However, on Sept. 4, Benke filed a civil lawsuit, alleging several employees at the public radio station assaulted him.

According to the lawsuit, Benke admitted to going to KPBS studios after learning of the argument between his father and the professor.

“Benke wanted to speak with his dad’s co-workers and inform them their assertions about his dad were incorrect and misguided and had upset his dad,” reads the lawsuit.

Benke said he offered to give everyone a “history lesson,” before noticing 64-year-old Kevin Shrader walking towards him.

Benke, according to the lawsuit, spat at Shrader.

“Shrader became enraged and forcibly struck Benke with both hands on his upper chest,” states the complaint.

Benke then allegedly asked to leave. While at an outside gate, Shrader and another KPBS employee allegedly approached Benke and assaulted him.

“One of the men put Benke in a headlock and Benke was forced to the ground on his knees,” reads the complaint. “Not happy with him being on his knees and not being a threat, the men violently pushed Benke forward and forced Benke’s face to hit the concrete.”

Benke alleges that he lost consciousness and “feared for his life.”

KPBS declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing pending litigation.

Benke’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

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