What started off as a drive with friends turned into a nightmare - 17 vehicles were impounded by the City of Orange Police Department with no explanation and no end in sight.
On the morning of December 26th, 2015, 17 individuals went out for a casual drive to lunch as a reunion of everyone being together and celebrating the day after Christmas, as they were all home for the holidays. They had met up in the city of Tustin to do so.
The weather was overcast and very windy as they all departed, heading north on Jamboree towards the canyon. On their cruise, towards the front of the pack, one of the caravan cars was sideswiped by a cyclist blindly crossing over to avoid a tumbleweed. The bicyclist (who happens to have a son working as a detective over at the Brea Police Department) laid on the road with several cars pulled over to rush to his aid. The driver had called the police and within minutes there were several officers at the scene of the accident. The cyclist refused ambulance service and shortly after was picked up by his wife and rode home. A police report was filed on the scene where the cyclist was deemed at fault for the collision. Later on that day, GoPro footage was willingly signed over to the officers to review. This footage clearly showed the collision between the cyclist and the front caravan car, further verifying the information that was given to the police.
We fast forward to two weeks later. Several people from the caravan that day are now receiving phone calls from a detective at the Orange Police Department, claiming he is investigating the accident that took place on December 26th, 2015. Apparently, the officer on scene who took the initial report was involved in an accident and lost his memory, meaning the report was never filed and is lost. None of the other two officers at the scene filed a report, either.
Another two weeks go by and on February 11th, 2016, nine cars were seized in what has been described to us as quite barbaric. Police had shown up to the residences of the individuals. The scene was the same at every house: squad cars out front, police banging on the door, seizing cell phones and laptops, photographing the cars in question with their doors, hood, and trunk open, providing a show for the whole block as neighbors left for work or school.
Those who weren’t home had officers show up at their workplace where they were escorted out in front of coworkers, colleagues, and bosses with hands tied behind their back.
It seems to us that this has officially become a case of guilty until proven innocent.
The police wait until the morning of April 6, at which point they decide to seize a few more vehicles. This all takes place thanks to a piggyback extension search warrant signed off by the same judge that signed off on the initial search warrant. There are now 17 vehicles seized by the Orange Police Department for investigation purposes. Drivers wonder why this judge is signing off on these warrants.
As if the situation couldn't be any more obscene, at this point, all phone call attempts by attorneys to the detective and police department are ignored and messages unanswered. A few individuals try to raise awareness of this abuse by attending the monthly council meeting at the City of Orange and presenting to the Mayor their concerns with the police department; seeking help in the matter. As of now there is still no answer from the Mayor or any other City Council members.
On the morning of April 23rd, several owners of the vehicles received some troubling images. This is the part where your stomach will turn if it hasn't already.
All the vehicles seized by the Orange Police Department were out on public streets and being driven. Furious at this sight, a couple of individuals go out to the tow yard (Archie’s Towing) to witness first hand the activity taking place. The individuals say that they saw, first hand, the seized vehicles out on public streets being driven by both the police and the tow yard owner along with his high school son.
One of the vehicle owners arrives on scene, recording multiple videos and taking several photographs of the cars being pulled out of the tow yard and being driven on the public streets. It's at this point that an officer noticed him taking photographs at which point he chases him on foot, stops him, and detains him for over an hour before seizing his cell phone without the owner's permission. His cell phone was never returned as the officer claimed “taking photographs of police activity is illegal.”
As of today, all repeated phone calls and messages are ignored on a daily basis and the attorneys are struggling to make progress. Peace officer friends, public officials, and media associates all deem this to be an extremely abusive behavior from the Orange Police Department. No one has heard of anything like this, especially for vehicles to be seized this long.
Recently, two individuals have lost their jobs because of the police presence at their workplace, and a few have had loss of income in their business.
All 17 search warrants stated the same thing. Exhibition of speed, violation of basic speed law, excessive speed over 65, reckless with injury..etc. Officers told all parties that their vehicles would be taken in for 10 days, with a maximum of 30 days for investigation purposes. It has been 117 days and no clue as to when vehicles will be released. The individuals involved in this case have been working tirelessly to get their vehicles back, yet all questions remain unanswered:
• Why are 17 cars seized, when only one vehicle was involved in the accident?
• Does this have anything to do with the fact that the cyclists son is a police officer?
• Why aren’t any Orange PD officers returning calls regarding this case?
• What testing takes 117 days and counting?
• Why are these cars being tested on the streets?
• What type of testing is being done that a certified mechanic can’t do at his shop?
• Is this all necessary?
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