OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – A man sitting inside his own vehicle was stopped by a couple in Oakland who believed it was theirs. The couple explained their truck had been stolen, but after he insisted it was his, police were called out and he was handcuffed.
The frustrated wife of the man told KRON4 she is surprised that detaining him would be the protocol in this case. She said her husband tried to explain to the couple who approached him that it was in fact his own vehicle, but they insisted their truck got ticketed in the area recently and didn’t want to hear any more from him, so they called 9-1-1.
The Oakland Police Department confirmed that this happened on 35th Street between West Street and MLK Boulevard at around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday after they got a call from someone who said they believed they found their stolen truck. When they got there, they said the truck matched the description.
The 1999 white Ford pickup actually belonged to the driver named Ian Simmons, who was approached by the couple. His wife, Nicole Hirsch, took to Twitter to air out grievances. She said he tried to let the couple know it was his truck, even pointing to his elementary school sticker on the gas cap cover.
Instead, she says OPD officers swarmed the area, detained Simmons, and pointed a taser at him all before asking for his license and registration. He sat detained as they ran the VIN number, which came back to prove it was his truck. She’s concerned that he, as a Black man, may have been racially profiled.
“He told me that he tried to show them an old picture of his truck. To say, you know, like, this is my truck. He’s a landscaper. So it’s his work truck. And they wouldn’t roll down their window when he approached their car,” she said. “That experience has never happened to me. I am a Black woman who benefits from white privilege because of the way that I look. But it’s something, I am a sociologist, it’s something that I have studied and know a great deal about and certainly intimately aware of, because of the people in my family and in my life who this happens to. It’s not surprising, unfortunately, in the society that we live in, and it’s also humiliating and robs people of their dignity and their respect and their time.”
When asked about their protocol to verify whether a vehicle is stolen, OPD told KRON4, that verifying the vehicle’s VIN is part of the investigation of a stolen vehicle.
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“The protocol regarding occupied stolen vehicles involves safely detaining the occupant(s) of the vehicle. The vehicle registration as well as occupants identification are verified to confirm or deny ownership of said vehicle… The amount of time that an individual is detained varies with each incident. There are several factors that play a role in the amount of time someone is detained,” OPD told KRON4.
Hirsch said it is very hard for her to imagine a white man sitting in his car and somebody accusing him of that car not belonging to him, and for the officers’ first move be that they put him in handcuffs. The family is now exploring legal options.