Michigan city to pay veteran wrongfully detained by ICE $190,000

Michigan city to pay veteran wrongfully detained by ICE $190,000
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Grand Rapids, Mich., on Tuesday, committed to paying $190,000 to a veteran who was wrongfully detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last year. 

The City Commission in Grand Rapids unanimously approved the settlement to Jilmar Ramos-Gomez to end a Michigan Department of Civil Rights complaint, CBS reported.

Ramos-Gomez, a Michigan-born U.S. citizen, was detained by ICE for three days in December 2018. The veteran suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from serving in Afghanistan. 

Ramos-Gomez was arrested in November 2018 for allegedly setting a small fire at a hospital, pulling the fire alarm and trespassing on the helipad. He pleaded guilty to trespassing, and a judge mandated his release. 

But local law enforcement handed him to ICE, even though he reportedly had his passport on him at the time of the arrest.

Police Capt. Curtis VanderKooi, who reported Ramos-Gomez to authorities after the veteran was arrested, was punished with a 20-hour unpaid suspension. In VanderKooi’s communication with an ICE officer, the ICE officer said he interviewed Ramos-Gomez and found out he was a “foreign national illegally in the U.S.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) got involved in the case, releasing documents in February accusing VanderKooi of racially profiling Ramos-Gomez.

ACLU senior staff attorney Miriam Aukerman said in a statement that Ramos-Gomez's experience was "tragic."

"We hope that as a community we can learn from his case, and that the City of Grand Rapids and its police department will adopt further policy changes and commit to systemic reforms to ensure that no one else has to suffer what Mr. Ramos-Gomez endured,” she said.

City Attorney Anita Hitchcock said in a statement obtained by The Hill that the city is "satisfied" the settlement could be reached without going to court.

"The settlement is not an admission of liability," she said. "Rather, it is a resolution of a disputed claim. We hope that all parties can now move forward."

The Hill reached out to ICE for comment.

Updated at 2:07 p.m.