Tapes reveal attempted police cover-up in ex-prosecutor crash

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -  A Michigan Court of Appeals judge ordered the City of Grand Rapids to release five phone recordings between police officers who investigated a wrong-way crash involving a former Kent County Prosecutor. Released Wednesday, the calls reveal an attempted police cover-up.

The crash happened Nov. 19, 2016: former Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Josh Kuiper allegedly drove the wrong way down a one-way in Grand Rapids intoxicated.  Officer Adam Ickes, who responded to the crash, and former Sgt. Thomas Warwick and Lt. Matthew Janiskee spoke to each other discussing how to cover-up their crash report using a city phone line '3407' they believed was not recorded.  The officers initially let Kuiper go, even though he was apparently intoxicated and injured another man getting into his vehicle during the crash.

"The whole incident is appalling," said Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky Wednesday, immediately after the tapes were released.

"It undercuts our credibility in the community. It discredits what we’ve worked so hard to create, which is trust and transparency. It doesn’t represent the hard work of the men and women in this department.”

Phone calls and radio traffic from the night of the crash were already released.  In the calls, Janiskee tells Ickes to call 3407. Police say that line is usually used for sensitive information, like the names of victims.  However, officials now say the line has been recorded for years and is still in use. Wednesday the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled on the lawsuit MLive filed against the city, ordering the recordings MLive initially requested via the Freedom of Information Act be released.

In the five phone call recordings, the three officers are heard laughing at points about the situation, and then discussing how much and what paperwork would need to be done for the incident. The attempted cover-up plan went further when former Lt. Janiskee said he texted his wife, who works at the Kent County Prosecutor's Office. He told Sgt. Warwick that night:

"I said that [Kuiper] was involved in an accident, going the wrong way, he got a ticket and 'had been drinking' was checked on the box, here’s the report number. So that’s basically how it’s going to look when she reads it. She’ll ask me about it and I’ll just give her a look like, ‘uh huh.’”

When Sgt. Warwick asked if Lt. Janiskee's wife would dig for footage on this incident, the Lt. responded: "No. 'Cause I'll f---ing tell her not to."

"That’s extremely troubling," said Chief Rahinksy, in response to the officers speaking about involving a prosecutor.

"That portion of the conversation I’m afraid is going to solidify any conception that someone may have that the system is rigged against some, and rigged in favor of others."

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker also tells FOX 17 he has not listened to the tapes and did not know about the incident until about 18 hours after the wrong-way crash. He added that he, Monica Janiskee, who is married to former Lt. Janiskee, and former Kent County Prosecutor Bill Forsyth "did not advise, consult, or recommend any course of action to the Grand Rapids Police Department when they were dealing with former Assistant Prosecutor Josh Kuiper."

He added Monica Janiskee never responded to her husband's text the night of the Nov. 2016 incident.

You can listen to the five calls below, and read their transcripts here: Call 1, Call 2, Call 3, Call 4, and Call 5.  

Note: there is some strong language in the calls.

Call 1 audio - Ickes to Janiskee and Warwick

Call 2 audio - Ickes to Janiskee

Call 3 audio - Warwick to Janiskee

Call 4 audio - Warwick to Janiskee

Call 5 audio - Warwick to Janiskee and Ickes

Rahinsky also said as soon as he heard these tapes, he and city officials immediately suspended the involved officers; contacted the City Attorney; asked State Police to investigate; then presented this to the Kalamazoo Prosecutor, who later declined criminal charges against the officers.

Janiskee was fired from the department and is suing the Grand Rapids Police for privacy issues regarding the tapes in U.S. District Court in Kalamazoo, claiming he was illegally recorded.  Warwick was demoted and suspended for 160 hours.  Ickes was also suspended for 160 hours.

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  • Old Bob

    I hope all the jerk reporters who keep this story going are right with the police next time they have to put their lives on the line to protects us. When shots ring out don’t run from the shots, run to them right along with the police. Someone made a mistake, let it go, drop it. What possible good does it to to keep dragging it back up over and over again.

      • Michael

        Actually police do that often. Deciding who to charge and for what is part of heir discretion.

        Driving without insurance is a crime yet I’ve allowed people to have their vehicles towed home in lieu of being criminally charged. I’ve dumped a small amount of marijuana when I didn’t want the kids record ruined by a drug charge.

        I don’t agree with how this was handled. I would never let an intoxicated person go. That being said it was within their discretion.

        • steve

          If you’re actually a cop, and if you “dump a small amount of marijuana” to prevent a kid from having an arrest record, that’s illegal, isn’t it?

          • Michael

            Not at all. How would it be? What law would be broken? That’s part of the discretion police have. We toss out small amounts of shake all the time. Sometimes for the better good, other times to develop a source/informant.

          • Common Cents

            There’s an eight-minute video all police and military should watch that you can find by searching for “Mark Passio Order Followers.”

          • Michael

            Common Sense – That’s hardly on the must see videos for law enforcement. That’s a video shot in a guy’s basement, which doesn’t exactly scream credibility. If we were to show that video to cadets we would lose credibility as trainers.

            He says that following orders is, “doing what you are told to do, without judging for yourself whether or not the action you are being ordered to carry out is right or wrong”.

            That isn’t law enforcement at all. Every individual officer is expected to decide whether what he’s being ordered to do is right or wrong. That’s why every officer in this case was punished. Even though the wrong decision was made by a supervisor the road officer still followed it and did the wrong thing. Officers know this. The amount of training an officer gets on this topic is much more thorough than what this “must see” video rants about.

  • Robert

    Kent County Prosecuter Chris Becker needs to do the right thing here, and charge the involved officers with obstruction of justice. Monica Janiskee should also be removed from her position. Her own husband, knowing her better than anyone, confirmed that she could be counted on to ‘look the other way.’ This is terrible.

  • steve

    The cops involved here no doubtwere very wrong in their actions and should have been punished. What really bothers me is that there are members of the community, some of whom comment here, who will take this as an opportunity to brand every cop in Grand Rapids as crooked. They’re not, and it’s too bad that Chief Rahinsky has to answer questions from people who haven’t a clue as to what a cop is truly made of.

  • D

    Annd now everyone charged with a DUI sues the city and county because of this and the ACLU will get a few dismissed. Cops have a tough, tough, job why make it tougher.

  • Common Cents

    Goes to show that police protect and serve the politicians while extorting and kidnapping John Q. The fact that people tolerate the existence of police goes to show we’re a brainwashed herd.