Oakland police handcuff Black man after couple wrongfully accuses him of stealing their truck

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ByLuz Pena via KGO logo
Friday, September 16, 2022
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An Oakland Black man was placed in handcuffs by police after a couple wrongfully accused him of driving their stolen vehicle.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- An Oakland resident was placed in handcuffs by police after a couple accused him of driving their stolen vehicle, however, the truck actually belonged to him.

On Tuesday around 11:30 a.m. on 35th Street at MLK, Nicole Hirsch's husband was sitting in his vehicle when a couple approached him.

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"He described it like they were looking in his truck bed and he rolled down his window and said to them 'Can I help you with something?' and they said to him something to the effect of 'Our truck was stolen,'" Hirsch said.

Nicole's husband is a landscaper. His truck had work tools in the back. She said the couple went on to accuse him of stealing their vehicle even after he showed them a photo taken four years ago of the same truck. Minutes later, multiple Oakland police vehicles surrounded him.

"He put his hands up is my understanding and followed their orders," Hirsch said. "He told me that it's embarrassing to be in handcuffs on the street with many cop cars around. It's humiliating. It's infuriating."

The whole time Hirsch said her husband tried explaining to officers that the truck was in fact his.

"They put him in handcuffs before he was even asked for his license or registration," she said.

Nicole believes her husband was treated this way because he is Black.

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"I definitely do," she said. "Just like this couple that is claiming this is our truck. He is also a person and why is his voice and his opinion not given the same weight and credence that the couple was given."

In a statement OPD confirmed the incident and said they received a call from a victim whose vehicle had been recently stolen in Oakland, claiming they had found it.

"When officers arrived, they located a vehicle that matched the year, make, model and color of the victim's vehicle and detained the occupant, pending further investigation. Officers later determined that the vehicle in question was registered to the individual who was detained."

ABC7 went to the area to speak to neighbors who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.

"He is Black so they look at us like since we are Black we are the most targeted to either steal a car," one neighbor said.

A neighbor said crime in this area of Oakland has been on the rise.

"It's just very scary because you can't trust anybody. My car has been broken into twice. We have been burglarized," one of the neighbors said.

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Nicole tweeted about the incident hoping to bring awareness to how Oakland police conduct investigations.

Luz Pena: "What are you hoping changes?"

Nicole Arlette Hirsch: "My hope is that protocol changes. My hope is that the Oakland police department finds better ways to treat particularly folks of color and my hope is that this doesn't happen to anybody else ever again."

Nicole is a sociologist who focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion research. She says what happened to her husband is exactly why she does this kind of work. The couple is exploring legal action.

OPD full statement:

"The Oakland Police Department (OPD) investigated a report of an occupied stolen vehicle on September 13, 2022, in the 700 block of 35th Street, shortly before 11:30 AM. The OPD Communications Division (OPD Dispatch) received a call from a victim who's vehicle had been recently stolen in Oakland, advising that they found their stolen vehicle occupied in the 700 block of 35th Street. When officers arrived, they located a vehicle that matched the year, make, model and color of the victim's vehicle and detained the occupant, pending further investigation. Officers later determined that the vehicle in question was registered to the individual who was detained. The individual was ultimately released from the scene."

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