Deputy says he lied to ‘see if I could get away with it.’ He didn’t

News

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kent County sheriff’s deputy who recently resigned lied about his involvement in an off-duty hit-and-run crash “just to see if I could get away with it,” according to a police report.

Kenyatta Weaver Jr. resigned in August, about a month after the crash on Grand Rapids’ Southeast side.

At the time, he was working under a “last-chance” agreement for lies he told his department about his involvement in an off-duty brawl last year.

In the most recent case, a witness who paints road markings told Grand Rapids police he was working about 12:30 a.m. on July 23 when he saw a car “flying” at speeds he estimated at more than 100 mph, according to a police report.

The witness told police he called 911 after watching the car hit some railroad tracks, strike a curb and lose control.

The driver tried to restart the car, the witness said, then ran away, leaving behind the vehicle.

When police questioned Weaver about his abandoned car, he denied any involvement.

Weaver told police he had parked along the street outside his nearby home the night before and had been drinking at home until he “went and passed out.” He said he went to bed by 11 p.m., 90 minutes before the crash, according to the police report.

He said he thought his car had been impounded because he had parked in front of a fire hydrant.

He later told police someone else had driven it, but he “did not want to press charges or identify the person who had been driving,” the police report shows.

He said he “did not want to get the person in trouble.” He later identified three people he said he suspected had taken his car.

Grand Rapids police got a search warrant for Weaver’s cellphone, which had been left in the car. They said they found text messages on the phone that appeared to “contradict” his account that he was in bed by 11 p.m., including a text he sent about seven minutes after the crash was reported.

On Aug. 20, a week after he resigned as a deputy, Weaver went to the police department to confess, though his attorney, Josh Kuiper, said he didn’t want to talk about “alcohol use,” according to the report.

Weaver told police he was driving home from a bar when he missed his turn, put his car in reverse and hit a curb. He also told police he was driving no faster than 40 to 50 mph, not 100 mph as the witness reported.

He didn’t call police at the time because, “I think I just panicked,” police quoted him as saying.

When asked about “the stories” he told police earlier about the crash, he said he was “just trying to see if I could get away with it,” according to the report.

Weaver was already on a last-chance agreement, approved by Kent County Sheriff Michelle Lajoye-Young, after lying to fellow deputies last year.

In June 2019, Weaver threw punches during an off-duty brawl at a mobile home park. The deputy briefly pulled a gun during the incident, then later lied to responding deputies about the fight and the gun, according to police reports.

While Weaver was not criminally charged for the brawl last year, he was ticketed for the crash for failing to report an accident and careless driving. No charges were filed for lying to police.

Both of the traffic cases are pending in Grand Rapids District Court. He has pleaded not guilty to failing to report an accident.

Weaver did not respond to attempts to reach him for comment.

In a written statement, the sheriff said,  “This young man has demonstrated that he is willing to lie. There is no place for that in law enforcement.”

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