Victim’s lawyer: Man wants justice after drunk driving crash involving assistant prosecutor

Posted at 10:27 PM, Jan 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-09 23:13:00-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Josh Kuiper is resigning from his job after officials say he crashed into a parked car while driving the wrong way on a road. The November crash injured a man who was reaching inside the parked vehicle to grab his jacket.

Police say Kuiper admitted to consuming alcohol before driving, but he only received a ticket and was then escorted to a relative's home instead of being arrested at the scene.

Brian Molde, the attorney representing the man who was injured, says the victim wants justice.  Molde said not only did Kuiper walk away with only a ticket, but they never even breathalyzed him.

Police video taken Nov. 19 shows Kuiper barely able to walk in a straight line.  Investigators confirm that he was driving the wrong way down Union Street and admitted to drinking before getting behind the wheel.

"Obviously had the breathalyzer been done it would have been further evidence that he was operating a vehicle while intoxicated or impaired and those both carry significance in the civil context and the criminal context," Molde said.

Molde says his client is still in a significant amount of pain, both physically and mentally.  He says the victim broke vertebrae and suffered neck and head injuries.  His arm also just came out of a sling.

Three officers with the Grand Rapids Police Department are on paid administrative leave following an internal investigation into whether Kuiper received special treatment, and Michigan State Police are also conducting an investigation of the crash.

In the meantime, Molde says there's not much he and his client can do, saying the breathalyzer would have been the most important piece of evidence.

"It makes it harder for us to prove exactly what was happening and that's problematic from our perspective in representing our client and trying to seek compensation for the injuries and pain and suffering he has gone through," Molde said.

In Michigan, Molde says the police are heavily protected by the law when it comes to civil matters, further complicating things for his client.

"There have been some very restrictive decisions from the Michigan Supreme Court as well as some very restrictive conditions by the Michigan legislature to limit personal citizens' rights as far as pursuing claims when police officers are involved in high-speed chases, when they are involved in actions that might exceed or go beyond what the proper actions may be," he said.

Molde has filed a negligence claim with the prosecutor's office, and is waiting for the results of the state police investigation to move forward with that.