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Grand Rapids approves settlement with veteran detained by ICE

Posted: 9:00 AM, Nov 13, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-13 17:07:23-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids commissioners approved a deal to settle a lawsuit by the family of a U.S. citizen who was wrongly detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement last year.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the commission signed off on a $190,000 payment to Jilmar Ramos-Gomez. The Marine veteran was arrested on Nov. 21, 2018, after police say he started a fire in a stairwell at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital and broke through security to get to the helipad.

Despite having his driver’s license and passport, Grand Rapids Police Captain Kurt VanderKooi contacted federal agents about the case. In an email to ICE, VanderKooi asked for a check of Ramos-Gomez’s immigration status, calling him at one point, “loco.”

An internal investigation exonerated Captain VanderKooi, since he was serving as liaison to ICE, but an appeal to the Civilian Appeals Board overturned that decision. City Manager Mark Washington decided to suspend VanderKooi for 20 hours without pay.