Grand Rapids will pay a $190,000 settlement to a Latino American war veteran who wasby federal immigration officials. The City Commission unanimously approved the payment to Jilmar Ramos-Gomez on Tuesday to resolve a Michigan Department of Civil Rights complaint.
Customs Enforcement held Ramos-Gomez for three days last December before releasing the Michigan-born U.S. citizen. Police Capt. Curtis VanderKooi served a 20-hour, unpaid suspension for violating department policy after he alerted the federal agency about Ramos-Gomez' arrest at a hospital.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and Michigan Immigrant Rights Center filed the complaint on Ramos-Gomez's behalf in April, saying VanderKooi discriminated against him based on his race, violating the state's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. The ACLU also said Ramos-Gomez has post-traumatic stress disorder.
"He was decorated with a national defense service medal, a global war on terrorism service medal, an Afghanistan campaign medal, and a combat action ribbon, among other awards," the ACLU of Michigan said earlier this year.
"Why did they think he was a non-citizen? Did they get him confused with someone else? Who knows," ACLU attorney Miriam Aukerman said. "This is an individual who's incredibly vulnerable with a mental illness."