Board reverses clearing of officer in veteran detention

May 16, 2019

Capt. Curtis VanderKooi, City of Grand Rapids Police Department
Credit City of Grand Rapids

An appeals board has reversed a decision by western Michigan police to exonerate an officer accused by activists of racial profiling by notifying immigration officials about the arrest of a mentally ill Latino war veteran.

The Grand Rapids Civilian Appeal Board voted Wednesday after an internal affairs review found Capt. Curtis VanderKooi didn't violate department policy. Grand Rapids' city manager now will consider whether VanderKooi should receive additional sanctions.

The Grand Rapids Police Command Officers Association has said the union would fight attempts to further discipline VanderKooi.

Activists called for VanderKooi's firing after Immigration and Customs Enforcement held Jilmar Ramos-Gomez for three days in December before releasing the Michigan-born man and U.S. citizen. VanderKooi told ICE about Ramos-Gomez' November arrest at a hospital, referring to him as "loco," or crazy.