According to ABC7, the Black Oakland resident was in his vehicle on September 13 when he was approached by a couple. “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,’” the man’s wife, Nicole Hirsch, said.
Hirsch said her husband, who works as a landscaper, had his tools in the car at the time. But she said the couple went ahead to claim the car he was driving was stolen, and it belonged to them. That was after the Black man showed them a picture that was taken of the truck some four years ago. Several police officers later arrived at the scene and surrounded him with their vehicles.
“He put his hands up is my understanding and followed their orders,” said Hirsch. “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.”
Hirsch said the officers handcuffed her husband even before they asked for his license and registration, adding that he also tried to prove that the truck indeed belonged to him. She believes race played a factor in the way her husband was treated.
“I definitely do,” Hirsch 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.”
Responding to the incident, the Oakland Police Department said that they “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 OPD added.
A neighbor who spoke with ABC7 also concurred with Hirsch’s sentiments. “He is Black so they look at us like since we are Black we are the most targeted to either steal a car,” the neighbor said.
Hirsch is a sociologist, and she specializes in diversity, equity, and inclusion research. She said her husband’s recent experience is the reason why she took up that career.
“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,” Hirsch said.
The couple said they’re looking at the possibility of taking legal action.