GRPD to review handling of alcohol-related crash involving prosecutor

Kent County
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids police will conduct an internal review of an officer’s decision not to give a breathalyzer test to a Kent County assistant prosecutor who hit a parked car after a night of drinking.

The crash caused minor injuries to the owner of the parked car, who was in the process of getting in or out of the vehicle at the time the car was hit.

The incident happened at 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19.

Police said Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Josh Kuiper was driving the wrong way on Union Avenue SE when he struck the parked car.

GRPD spokesperson Sgt. Terry Dixon confirmed the police report indicated alcohol was a factor in the accident. However, Dixon told 24 Hour News 8 the officer also wrote that Kuiper “was able to perform well” on the field sobriety test.

Dixon said the officer did not give Kuiper a breathalyzer test but instead ticketed the assistant prosecutor for driving the wrong way on a one-way street.

“At this point we are going to review the incident internally to ensure that everything was handled appropriately,” Dixon said.

Hours before the accident, Kuiper had attended a retirement party for outgoing Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth at a bar in downtown Grand Rapids.

Forsyth told 24 Hour News 8 he did not know why GRPD “chose not to give” (Kuiper) a breathalyzer test.

Forsyth also reported that Kent County Prosecutor-elect Chris Becker and another assistant prosecutor, Patrick O’Keefe, spoke to Kuiper approximately three hours before the crash and told him “he appeared to have had too much to drink and shouldn’t drive home.”

“Patrick, who lives in Lansing and was leaving to drive home, offered to drive Josh home,” explained Forsyth in an email responding to questions from 24 Hour News 8. “Although Josh chose not to leave, he assured both of them that he would not drive himself home.”

Forsyth went on to say that he had spoken to Josh himself at approximately 10 p.m. and “basically told him the same thing.”

“He told me he would not drive home and said he planned on walking to his mother’s house on Union (Avenue),” Forsyth said. “Neither Chris nor I saw him after 10 p.m. and cannot begin to speculate as to his condition at the time he was later stopped by GRPD.”

Forsyth said he made the final decision on how the prosecutor’s office would handle Kuiper’s conduct.

The 42-year-old Byron Center man was demoted, placed on unpaid leave and sent to be evaluated for substance abuse treatment.

“No one in (the prosecutor’s office) learned about the incident until later in the day Saturday and I was not informed until Sunday. It is our understanding that GRPD conducted a drunk driving investigation and based on their initial observations, cited him for driving the wrong way on a one-way street. It is my further understanding that the (accident report) that was filed as a result of Josh striking a parked car noted that he had been drinking.”

Forsyth also said the office had been concerned about Kuiper’s drinking in the past because of two prior off-duty incidents involving the use of alcohol.

District court records show that Kuiper plead guilty to leaving the scene of a property damage accident in 2005.

Kuiper, who’s been with the office for at least ten years, had been trying cases in circuit court, including homicide trials.

Due to his demotion, he will now work on cases in district court, which handles misdemeanors.

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Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed the date as Saturday, Nov. 18. This error has been corrected.

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