The Michigan Court of Appeals has ordered the City of Grand Rapids to turn over to MLive Media Group police recordings about a car crash involving Kent County Assistant Prosecutor, Josh Kuiper.
The phone calls were recorded after a car crash where a prosecutor was suspected of drunk driving. The recordings appear to show police officers trying to avoid arresting the prosecutor.
The City argued the recordings fell under an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act. The City said there was a pending federal court case surrounding the incident and the officers did not know they were being recorded. But the Court of Appeals disagreed.
The requests were “Journalism 101” said Vice President of Content for MLive Media Group, John Hiner.
“It’s part and parcel to what our institution does to hold people accountable and to bring public officials forward to explain their actions,” he said.
The city gave the five recordings to MLive on Wednesday after the Court of Appeals released its decision.
Hiner said they were sure the city would have to turn over the records.
“We didn’t think twice about going after the information,” he said. “We also felt very confident under public statutes, FOIA statutes, and we were on solid ground.”
All three officers involved were disciplined. One was fired, another was demoted and suspended without pay, and a third was suspended without pay.