GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Department of Civil Rights says it has filed formal discrimination charges against the Grand Rapids Police Department.
The charges stem from two discrimination complaints, the MDCR said in a Friday release. A spokesperson said the agency investigated and found enough evidence to file charges after the complainants and GRPD couldn’t reach settlements.
The spokesperson did not expand on the allegations nor list exactly what charges were being pursued. The MDCR said it will announce specifics next week.
The watchdog launched an investigation into systemic discrimination at GRPD in 2019. In April of this year, after the shooting death of Patrick Lyoya at the hands of a Grand Rapids officer, the MDCR said it had not finished that investigation and called on the U.S. Department of Justice for help, saying it doesn’t have the resources or staff to proceed alone.
“We’re the smallest department in the state, with only 29 investigators charged with investigating every complaint,” John Johnson, the executive director of the department, said in April.
In a statement Friday, the city of Grand Rapids said it was “cooperative and engaged” with the MDCR investigation. It said a hearing has been requested in “two matters” it was notified of this week.
“The City of Grand Rapids has been fully cooperative and engaged with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) since at least May 2019 when investigations began. The City has been in constant communication with the department through their changes of leadership and transitions in staff handling cases. The City has received two matters this week from MDCR and a hearing has been requested for each matter. The City intends to respond and attend all hearings as provided by the MDCR administrative rules.”City of Grand Rapids
The MDCR says it’s currently investigating about 28 discrimination complaints against GRPD. The spokesperson said that does seem to be a higher number than against most Michigan law enforcement departments.
“There’s certainly a sense that there needs to be some addressing of civil rights issues at the Grand Rapids Police Department,” Johnson in April.
Additional details about the charges are expected at a Monday morning press conference in metro Grand Rapids.
The watchdog spokesperson said the cases will go before an administrative law judge. After a hearing, that judge will make a recommendation to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. The commission will review the findings and then either dismiss the charges or take corrective action, which may include a fine.
—News 8 assistant news director Amy Fox contributed to this report.