After months of legal wrangling to try and keep the information out of public hands, Grand Rapids has finally released phone calls of its law enforcement officers investigating a then prosecutor for drunk driving. Although the officers thought the conversation was on an unrecorded police line, settings in place in the Grand Rapids Police Department triggered a recording of the call. In the recording, officers are heard scheming to allow the prosecutor to get away with drunk driving.
The call came in the early hours of November, 2016 after police responded to reports of a crash downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. A driver hit another vehicle and a pedestrian as the pedestrian existed the vehicle. The driver turned out to be former assistant prosecutor Josh Kuiper.
When officers arrive at the scene of the crash, they realize that the responsible driver is a prosecutor. That’s when phone calls start between police officers as they discuss how to give Kuiper a “pass” for his unlawful behavior, despite Kuiper being “visibly intox” according to the officer. Prosecutors eventually charged Kuiper with reckless driving causing serious injury. Officers on the scene gave Kuiper field sobriety tests but admitted that they didn’t honestly report his poor performance on the tests.
Kuiper has since left his position with the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office. The crash occurred after Kuiper was downtown with coworkers celebrating the retirement of another prosecutor. The victim in the lawsuit filed a civil case against Kuiper. That case is on hold as the criminal case slowly makes its way through the courts. At the time, Kuiper had 13 years of experience in the prosecutor’s office. He earned $94,857 a year.
In the newly released audio recording, officers discuss Kuiper’s state of intoxication. They say that he’s “hammered” and probably won’t do well on field sobriety tests. The officers talk about how many witnesses are present downtown to testify about what really happened. They aren’t sure of the extent of the victim’s injuries when they make the decision not to conduct a drunk driving investigation.
The City of Grand Rapids went to great lengths to try and keep the audio recording from becoming public. They went through several rounds of appeals claiming that they shouldn’t have to release the video because they recorded it accidentally. Media outlet MLive headed the legal campaign for release of the documents. The case even went to the Michigan Court of Appeals. Kuiper’s attorney says that the victim’s injuries aren’t severe enough to warrant his client facing a felony charge.