Judge rules against releasing 5 phone calls between GRPD officers

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Judge Dennis Leiber on Friday ruled against releasing police phone calls in a case involving three Grand Rapids Police officers and a former Kent County Assistant Prosecutor. 

The officers are accused of letting then-Assistant Prosecutor Josh Kuiper go after a drinking and driving crash that injured a man.

That man, Daniel Empson, and his attorney Brian Molde are after five phone calls made between Officer Adam Ickes, who responded to the crash last November, and Sgt. Thomas Warwick and Lt. Matthew Janiskee back at the police station.

"The only reason some parties don't want the tapes to be released is because it's an embarrassment to the city of Grand Rapids and the police department," said Molde.

The conversations leading up to those calls were already released.  In them, you hear Lt. Janiskee telling Ickes to call "3407", a line intended for unrecorded calls.  It's meant to be used for sensitive information, like the names of victims.

While it's called the "unrecorded line," the calls are in fact recorded, and now Empson's attorney wants them released.

Both the city of Grand Rapids and the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office, which decided whether the officers would face charges for their roles in the case, are fighting against the tapes being released.

Ultimately the judge sided with them, but that doesn't mean the tapes won't ever see the light of day.  He just said he's not releasing them right now because of the number of other cases still pending.

The judge was adamant that they schedule court dates before making any decisions on releasing tapes.  Molde is also welcome to file another motion at a later time for the tapes to be released.

Lt. Janiskee, who was fired form the department earlier this month, is now suing GRPD, saying they violated privacy rules with the handling of those tapes.

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