Michigan Department of Civil Rights to hold hearing on GRPD incidents

Posted at 7:18 PM, Mar 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-20 07:49:36-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A state agency is planning to hold a hearing in Lansing next week to address incidents involving Grand Rapids police.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights, will hold a hearing March 28 in Grand Rapids to hear from people involved in the altercations and determine if it will take further action.

The meeting’s exact location has yet to be determined, but will include a split afternoon with two sessions: 1 to 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

“We want to be responsive to the fact that we know people are upset,” said Agustin Arbulu, executive director of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. “And we want to be able to indicate we’re not ignoring the fact that you are upset. So we want to hear what you have to say.”

On Monday, Grand Rapids Interim Police Chief David Kiddle made a presentation to address two incidents where residents recorded police in confrontations with other residents.

One happened March 11 when an officer stopped two teens for walking in a street where a sidewalk was available. Police said the teens didn’t cooperate with the officer and that one of them reached behind their back, prompting the officer to pull out his firearm.

Kiddle said it was a “textbook example” of how officers are expected to conduct themselves.

Another incident happened March 17 where police say a driver didn’t cooperate with commands, leading to an officer striking the man repeatedly during the arrest. The officer was placed on paid administrative leave for escalating the situation “beyond what was necessary.”

Grand Rapids police have also faced criticism for their role in a former Marine being detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement following his arrest. A GRPD captain was placed on leave while the city investigates whether he was disciplined properly for using racially-charged language in an email to ICE.

An internal investigation cleared Capt. Curt VanderKooi of wrongdoing in the case, and said the email was addressed.

“There sure appears to be some issues with the Grand Rapids Police Department,” said Arbulu. “So we’ve got to dig further and try to figure out what’s going on here, and try to really change the culture of a police department that appears to have limited and lack of trust from certain segments of the community – primarily the African American and Hispanic communities.”