Ian Simmons was sitting inside his white 1999 Ford pickup Tuesday morning (September 13) in Oakland, California when a couple approached him, accusing them of stealing their truck. They claim their truck, which is the same color as Simmons’, was stolen and it was ticketed in the area recently.
When Simmons told them the pickup belonged to him, they reportedly called 911.
“He told me that he tried to show them an old picture of his truck. To say, you know, like, this is my truck,” Nicole Hirsch, Simmons’ wife, told reporters. “He’s a landscaper. So it’s his work truck. And they wouldn’t roll down their window when he approached their car.”
The Oakland Police Department (OPD) confirmed officers responded to a call from someone believing they found their stolen vehicle. When cops pulled up to 35th Street between West Street and MLK Boulevard, they said Simmons’ truck matched the couple’s description.
Hirsch said officers surrounded her husband, put him in handcuffs, and pointed a Taser at him before asking for his license and registration. While he was detained, police checked the vehicle identification number (VIN) of his vehicle and found out the truck belonged to him.
“His truck which has a license plate. Which isn’t the license plate of the allegedly stolen vehicle,” Hirsch wrote in a series of tweets about the incident.
Today my husband was handcuffed and had tasers pulled on him by @oaklandpoliceca because a random couple accused him of stealing their truck. He was in fact sitting in his truck. That he owns.— Nicole Arlette, PhD (@nicole_arlette) September 14, 2022
Now they’re exploring legal options, believing Simmons was racially profiled.
“I can’t imagine a white person being handcuffed for sitting in their own damn car. For 15-20 minutes, so police could verify that it was, as they claimed, their car,” Hirsch said.
OPD told KRON 4 that detaining people while verifying VIN is part of investigation protocols.:
“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.”
“It’s not surprising,” Hirsch told the news station. “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.”