GRPD Captain placed on leave after American citizen detained by ICE

Posted at 10:21 AM, Feb 28, 2019

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A police captain has been suspended pending an investigation into his actions that led to having an American-born citizen detained by ICE.

Jilmar Ramos-Gomez was arrested in Grand Rapids on November 21st, 2018 after police were called to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital regarding an individual reported to have started a fire in a stairwell and attempted to gain access to a helipad on the roof.  Ramos-Gomez was later released from the Kent County jail to be immediately detained by immigration officials.

According to documents released via a freedom of information act request filed by the ACLU, Captain Curt VanderKooi contacted officials with ICE while Ramos-Gomez was in custody and asked them to check his status as a legal American citizen.  The ICE official he contacted responded days later saying that they had found Ramos-Gomez to be illegally in the country.  It was revealed in those same documents that Ramos-Gomez was actually arrested with an American passport in his custody.  Ramos-Gomez was later released from ICE custody when his personal attorney got involved with the situation.

Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington said in a statement Thursday morning that Capt VanderKooi would be placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into how he handled the case following the initial arrest.

Washington says that he has asked the Labor Relations Office of our Administrative Services Department to review the case to “ensure the senior member of the command staff was properly held accountable for the Internal Affairs’ sustained findings of his discourtesy based on unprofessional conduct.”

Washington says that Grand Rapids Police Chief Kiddle has also initiated a review of departmental policies and procedures related to contacting federal authorities.

The Grand Rapids Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement Thursday afternoon in support of Captain VanderKooi and decried how the city was reacting to public pressure over official procedures already in place.  They say his suspension is in violation of the union’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the city.