GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The fallout continues from the release of the recorded conversations of Grand Rapids Police personnel on a line they believed was private and unrecorded.
But it was recorded and are now public much to the chagrin of the department and police administration.
The fact that there is a stash of previously unknown recordings discussing police matters could have an impact that goes far beyond the case discussed in the portions we have heard so far.
And now, we know that at least one case is getting a second look by police based on what was said regarding the man named the 2013 Police Officer of the Year.
The officers discuss how to avoid giving Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Josh Kuiper a breathalyzer test although he had admitted drinking and police later described him using a vulgar term for drunk.
In the course of the discussion comes this from fired former Lt. Matthew Janiskee:
“And this one was harder than (Miller).”
The reference is believed by Police Chief David Rahinsky and those familiar with the cases, is to Grand Rapids Police Detective Marc Miller.
The day before Kuiper’s encounter with police on Nov. 19, Miller had been pulled over by Kent County Sheriff’s deputies while driving near 84th Street SE and Kraft Avenue near the detective’s home in Caledonia around 1:30 a.m.
According to police records, an off-duty Barry County deputy had been following Miller’s car and believed he was intoxicated.
“That case was investigated thoroughly, Detective Miller went through with the criminal process and the internal process, received a significant internal suspension as well as having to go through the criminal process as well,” said Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky.
The deputy contacted Kent County authorities who pulled Miller over.
Miller’s blood alcohol content via blood test would show a blood alcohol content of 0.16, twice the state law definition of drunk which is 0.08.
He was ordered to serve one year probation and 80 hours of suspension without pay.
Kent County Undersheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young said there is no evidence that Grand Rapids interfered with the process or that there was anything out of the ordinary.
“That case was handled the way it should have been,” said Rahinsky.
A year before this incident, on Nov 13, 2015. Miller’s van was involved in a crash with a Jeep driven by 21-year-old Rebecca Workman.
She was with the 6-year-old for whom she is a nanny leaving the Wendy’s near 84th Street and Broadmoor Avenue around 6 p.m.
Miller was leaving the Uccello’s next door.
According to the police report filed by Miller three days after the crash, Workman ran the stop sign and crashed into his car.
The report says attempts were made to contact Workman, but she did not call back.
Workman saw Miller’s name in the reports about the call and said it reminded her that she had a very different take on things.
“I still don’t believe I was the one who was at fault on it,” Workman said. “Everything in me from remembering that night, I don’t remember him having his lights on, by any means.”
She says it seems strange that only his version appears on the official report.
“He didn’t have his lights on, I didn’t remember any of that, but who’s gonna believe me, a 21-year-old versus Grand Rapids police officer of the year?” Workman said.
Again, in the 2015 case, LaJoye-Young said nothing appears out of the ordinary on the property damage crash.
The police chief said the mention of Miller in the recording may raise questions.
“I’m gonna take a fresh look just to make sure,” Rahinsky said.
Until 24 Hour News 8 brought the matter forward, there was no plan to review the incident.
“Whether you wear the uniform or whether you’re in the civilian public, the rules are the same for all of us,” Rahinsky said. “What has come out, has been addressed and that was the exception, not the rule. And that’s what people need to hear and that’s what we need to ensure.”
Miller remains on the force and there is no indication that anything improper happened with him beyond the context of the mention in the recordings.
This is the first case outside of the handling of Kuiper that the department has looked into as a result of the surreptitious recordings, and it remains to be seen if this is only the first of more to come.