GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - It took a week and a half for Grand Rapids police to learn the name of a man who died after being beaten and robbed.
Ariel Martinez was robbed by three or four men in the 1900 block of Horton Avenue on Sept. 8. GRPD said. He was beaten and stripped of some of his clothes. He later died of the head injuries he sustained in the attack.
Police had a difficult time identifying Martinez because they thought he was an undocumented worker.
Police say that undocumented workers are sometimes targeted.
"We find that people are singled out sometimes because of what the suspects thinks is the status of the victim, and they rob them thinking, 'Hey, they are never going to call the police,'" Hertel said.
But fears of deportation sometimes cause crimes to go unreported, GRPD says. The department said that fear is unfounded.
"We're everybody's police department. Everybody here is serviced by us. Even if you are undocumented, we're going to address your crime and we are going to investigated to our fullest ability," GRPD Capt. Jeffrey Hertel said.
Leaders within the Hispanic community say GRPD is doing what it can to reach out and that it now lies with the Hispanic community to respond.
"They're scared. Aside from being scared, their legal status and the language barrier," said Maria Meoreno of the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association.
Moreno works directly with police, helping people in her neighborhood understand they need to report crimes. If they don't she says, the crime will continue.
"They have to learn to call. They have to not be afraid to call the police. They are here to help us," she said.
Moreno says there is still work to be done, but a lot of progress has been made and she credits police, particularly current Chief Kevin Belk and his predecessor Harry Dolan, for that.
"Chief Belk has done, and Chief Dolen have done so much for our areas for our neighborhoods. And again, I think it all depends on us," she said.
GRPD stresses that people should report crimes regardless of their immigration status because its job is to solve crimes, not deport people.
Thirty-three-year-old Ronald T. Smith II was grew up in Warren.
Is tonight the night? Maybe it's tomorrow. Or even Sunday.
Two other people, who were inside the residence at the time, escaped safely.