GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The handling of a drunk driving case involving a former assistant prosecutor in Kent County landed three Grand Rapids Police officers in hot water. It’s been decided two of them will return to duty, but the third is moving forward with a federal class action lawsuit against the city.
Phone calls between officers the night former Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Joshua Kuiper crashed into a parked vehicle in downtown Grand Rapids are in question.
The city filed a declaratory action asking the federal courts if they have the right to use the phone calls, because the police officers were told the telephone line they used was unrecorded. The police officers allegedly talked about how to handle the situation on what they thought was a private line, labeled 'non-recorded.'
An important distinction here, according to Lt. Matthew Janiskee’s attorney Andrew Rodenhouse, is that Janiskee is the only officer who hasn’t been approached with a deal by the city. Also, he’s the only police officer out of three that didn’t step foot at the scene. Rodenhouse said the city is basing his termination off calls that shouldn’t be used in the investigation in the first place.
The basis for the lawsuit is that it violates all kinds of laws: Federal Wiretapping Act, Michigan Wiretapping Act, Eavesdropping Act, and Janiskee’s Fourth Amendment rights. The lawsuit is against the city of Grand Rapids, Police Chief David Rahinsky, two deputy chiefs, a captain, and a lieutenant.
Rodenhouse said releasing these calls and basing Lt. Janiskee’s termination on them is opening a can of worms. He said if the city releases them then they need to release all the calls that were recorded on there for as long as they have been recorded.
“They are throwing him under the bus and I don’t know why. I don’t think the city understands the consequence of this recorded line. I know that going forward in every criminal case I handle I am going to be requesting the recording of that line as it pertains to my client. It would be malpractice for any criminal attorney now too,” said Rodenhouse.
Rodenhouse claimed Lt. Janiskee didn’t want to go this route, but the city leaves him no choice. Rodenhouse said the end goal is to get Janiskee’s job back, and get him back pay for the time he has missed. He said Janiskee just passed his captain’s test and wants the chance to be promoted, and wants his retirement without any limitations.
FOX 17 did ask Rodenhouse if the contract that all city employees signs that said they have no right to privacy while at work will come into play. He said he is not worried about that, and it shouldn’t affect their case.