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ACLU, MIRC seeks reversal of GRPD officer’s exoneration

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The ACLU and Michigan Immigrant Rights Center wrote a joint letter to the Grand Rapids Police Civilian Appeal Board to request the board reverse the decision made by the police department's internal affairs division to exonerate Captain Curt Vanderkooi. City administration already placed Vanderkooi on leave to investigate the internal affairs finding that states he followed protocol.

U.S. marine Jilmar Ramos-Gomez was arrested by GRPD in November after pulling a fire alarm and trying to access the helipad at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital.

While the veteran was in custody, Vanderkooi contacted ICE to "check his status," according to documents obtained by the ACLU. That’s despite Ramos-Gomez having his passport, ID and military dog tags on him at the time.

Internal affairs found Vanderkooi followed protocol because the attempt to access the helipad could have been terrorism related, in which case, they contact federal authorities. But the ACLU said it’s racial profiling.

Miriam Aukerman, senior staff attorney with the ACLU told FOX 17, "The police union talked about the importance of due process, but Jilmar also has a right to due process. The point is that you don't just get to have a one-sided investigation. You have to have a fair investigation where everyone is heard, and you've got to figure out the facts."

Attorney Hillary Scholten with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center said, "Our police officers do so much for our city, and we do support them. But that doesn't mean we can't hold them accountable and absolutely we should hold them accountable."

The ACLU doesn't expect a response from the civilian board anytime soon. However, their next meeting is scheduled for March 20th. In the meantime, city administration is also facing backlash for placing Vanderkooi on leave and taking a second look at how the situation was handled. The union said this is a violation of their contract.

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7 comments

  • Michael

    He was claiming to be an illegal immigrant so an officer asked ICE to check his status. How is that unreasonable? It doesn’t matter what he had in his possession at the time of arrest. Illegal immigrants in possession of fake documents like licenses and passports is not uncommon.

    It’s not profiling if he says he’s illegal!

    This is absolutely a violation of the contract unless new information has been discovered. It’s disgusting that the city would rather have a lawsuit from this officer than have to stand by him and stand up to the mob rule and ACLU.

  • Hillary

    Yes, isn’t this the guy who told police when he was arrested that he was undocumented.

    He is lucky his stupid ass did not wind up in Guantanamo

  • Deleted

    Isn’t this the guy who told police he was an undocumented immigrant. He is lucky he did not wind up in Guantanamo

  • Bud

    Liberals are tearing down this country by making everyone the victim instead of making them take responsibility for their actions. Notice how NOBODY is even suggesting that Jilmar Ramos-Gomez brought this upon himself because he told authorities that he was an Illegal Alien. Instead they persecute the good men/women that serve and protect us.
    Pathetic.

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