Hear the audio: Kuiper described as ‘hammered’ in phone conversations between officers

Posted at 6:17 PM, Feb 28, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – FOX 17 has obtained new audio and documents related to a controversial incident involving former Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Josh Kuiper and three Grand Rapids Police Officers.

On Nov. 19, 2016, Kuiper was alleged to have driven drunk the wrong way down Union Avenue, hitting a parked car and injuring someone inside. Kuiper was issued a citation and a field sobriety test, but not a breathalyzer – something three officers, Officer Adam Ickes, Sgt. Thomas Warwick and Lt. Matthew Janiskee have been criticized for.

In documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, FOX 17 has received several previously unseen documents and audio recordings from that night and the subsequent investigation. Among them are an audio recording of a call made by Officer Ickes, who was on the scene, to a recorded line at the police station. On the other end of that call are Lt. Janiskee and Sgt. Warwick.

In that call, Ickes refers to Kuiper as “hammered” even though the officer can be heard in body camera video telling Kuiper he doesn’t smell alcohol on him or have enough probable cause to issue a breathalyzer test.

Lt. Janiskee and Sgt. Warwick quickly stop Ickes mid-sentence, and direct him to call 3407 – an unrecorded line – to continue the conversation. Documents show five subsequent calls were made between the three, all of them redacted in their entirety in the FOIA request FOX 17 received.

That unrecorded line is now at the center of a class action lawsuit, filed by Janiskee, who is the only one yet to receive a deal from the city for his job back. He’s scheduled for a termination hearing next month.

That lawsuit could open the flood gates when it comes to availability and usage of conversations had on lines marked as unrecorded. Janiskee’s lawyer is essentially arguing that if a federal court suggests the conversation from the Kuiper incident can be released, all other conversations had on unrecorded lines are fair game too.

GRPD would not disclose how long the unrecorded line had actually been recorded.

Also in the FOIA materials obtained today were 911 calls in which you can hear the victim speaking to dispatchers, telling them his legs, hands, knee and head hurt, but is still clearly coherent. That 34-year-old victim suffered a broken vertebrae and a head injury in the crash.

Data documents also revealed that all texts between Janiskee and his wife, who works at the prosecutor’s office, had been deleted up until the day before the incident.

Kuiper is scheduled for a preliminary exam in early March and Janiskee is scheduled for a termination hearing sometime next month. He was the only officer of the three involved to not set foot on the scene that night.