Emails contradict the claim that GRPD suspected act of terrorim in arrest of veteran

Feb 25, 2019

Jilmar Ramos-Gomez
Credit Courtesy Family of Jilmar Ramos-Gomez

Ramos Gomez was arrested last November after he set a fire and gained access to the helipad at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital. He was taken into custody with his American passport in his possession (a significant detail in this story). He served his sentence, but after the judge released him, ICE told Kent County to hold Ramos Gomez for an extra three days while he faced potential deportation. His family went to pick him up and after they were told ICE was detaining him, they contacted an immigration attorney who provided the documentation proving the veteran marine is an American citizen. Ramos-Gomez was then released.

“Jilmar was arrested and the police pretty quickly recognized that this was a mental health issue and they contacted the FBI and said “look this is about a PTSD issue.”

That’s Miriam Aukerman, attorney for the ACLU of Michigan.  She says emails they obtained contradict the claim that GRPD suspected a potential act of terrorism. In fact, Kent County Prosecutor Daniel Helmer questioned ICE’s involvement.

According to the emails between GRPD and ICE, Captain Vanderkooi contacted ICE eight hours after the arrest and included in his email a copy of the police report.  The subject line of the emails refers to the combat veteran as “loco” or Spanish for “crazy”.

“That email is incredibly offensive. It has the subject line “Spectrum Helicopter Pad Loco”. “loco” of course is an offensive Spanish language term for a person with a mental illness.” 

Aukerman says she thinks Ramos-Gomez was racially profiled. 

“Even when they were alerted by the prosecutor, reminded by the Prosecutor that  Jilmar is a U.S. citizen, that he had his passport on him, that he's a Marine vet, even when they were reminded the Grand Rapids Police Department didn't take any steps to protect him.”

We reached out to the GRPD but they said they were not commenting beyond the initial press release. The City of Grand Rapids says they are reviewing their contacts with ICE.

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News.