Police conversation not part of civil suit against ex-prosecutor

Josh Kuiper
Ex-assistant prosecutor (middle) appears in court for a March 3, 2017 preliminary hearing.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The conversation of officers allegedly made on a phone line thought to be private will not be part of the civil suit against former Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Joshua Kuiper.

Kent County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Leiber denied the request by Daniel Empson’s attorneys that the recordings and other investigations into the pending criminal case against Kuiper be part of the civil case.

Kuiper resigned after he was caught driving the wrong way on a one-way Grand Rapids street on Nov. 19 following a night of drinking at various bars during his boss’ retirement party. Officers did not give Kuiper a breathalyzer test even after he admitted drinking and struck a vehicle which Empson was in.

A photo from the scene of a crash involving a Kent County assistant prosecutor, provided by the victim. (Nov. 19, 2016)

Three officers were either reprimanded or fired following the incident, but they were not criminally charged following an investigation by the Kalamazoo Prosecutor’s Office.

Empson’s attorney had asked for all of Kalamazoo’s investigative records as well as the recording of the private line that may exist.

The City of Grand Rapids is in court wrangling over whether the recording should be made available to the public.

Empson’s attorney Brian Molde said the recording and investigation could give evidence that Kuiper was drunk at the time of the incident around 3:30 a.m. Nov. 19 on Union Avenue SE, south of Fulton Street.

FILE — Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Josh Kuiper talks to 24 Hour News 9 on March 25, 2015.

Empson claims he was injured in the incident.

In his decision Friday, the judge left open the possibility that the motion could be reconsidered depending on what happens in the criminal case and the case regarding the public release of the alleged recording.

It is expected that Kuiper will admit negligence in the civil case leaving only arguments regarding the amount of damages.

Meanwhile, Kuiper, who has since resigned from the prosecutor’s office, is going to trial on charges of reckless driving causing serious injury and moving violation causing injury.