School Event Cancellations

Police investigator confirms Assistant Prosecutor was drunk during wrong-way crash

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- An investigation into the November 2016 crash involving the former Kent County Assistant Prosecutor confirms he was drinking the night the incident happened.

Documents released to FOX 17 by Johnson Law detail an OWI investigation conducted by Sgt. Stephen LeBrecque at the request of Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinksy and Deputy Chief Kiddle.

The eight-page file details conversations Sgt. LeBrecque had with witnesses at the scene on the night of Nov. 19, 2016, as well as footage he reviewed from body cameras worn by responding officers and video recorded from inside a police vehicle.

Investigators say Joshua Kuiper was going the wrong way down Union Avenue that night when he hit a PT Cruiser along the side of the road. A man named Daniel Empson was reaching inside the vehicle for a jacket at the time and suffered multiple injuries.

During his investigation, which began in December 2016, Sgt. LeBrecque says he spoke to witnesses from the crash, including one woman who said she was driving north on Union Avenue when "out of nowhere" the truck [driven by Kuiper] hit the parked car.  She also reported seeing the victim determined to be Empson 'fly and bounce off the ground.'

Another witness, who is a friend of the victim, told Sgt. LeBrecque the driver who hit Empson 'seemed a bit off' and says he kept 'repetitively apologizing.'

Another part of Sgt. LeBrecque's investigation included reviewing body camera and dash camera footage recorded by responding officers that night. In the footage, Sgt. LeBrecque describes sobriety tests given to Kuiper that night, including reciting the alphabet and touching his thumb to each one of his fingers. Sgt. LeBrecque notes that Kuiper does perform the tasks, but does so with a bit of difficulty and slow response.

The report also notes that Kuiper acknowledges he had been drinking, and notes him being seen at a retirement party earlier in the night. The documents also say he declined getting an Uber ride home.

Kuiper was not given a breathalyzer test at the scene and was driven by responding officer Sgt. Tom Warwick to Kuiper's mother's home.

Sgt. LeBrecque ends his report saying Kuiper was going 40 mph in a 25 mph zone when he hit Empson's vehicle, and that all evidence proves Kuiper had been intoxicated and/or impaired by alcohol the night of the crash.

Following that crash, three members of the GRPD were disciplined for their response to the incident, when no breathalyzer was given and no arrest was made.  Recently released phone calls between  Former Lt. Matthew Janiskee, Sgt. Thomas Warwick and Officer Adam Ickes detail the attempted cover-up made that night on a phone line they believed to be unrecorded.

Janiskee, who was fired following the incident, is currently suing the City of Grand Rapids for privacy issues regarding those tapes, saying he was illegally recorded. That matter is still working its way through court.

Sgt. Warwick was demoted and suspended for 160 days, and Officer Ickes was also suspended for 160 days.

Kuiper, who resigned after the crash, is awaiting trial on a five-year felony charge. He's also being sued by Empson.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

2 comments