Police keep Bronx man's truck for evidence

January 24, 2011 8:33:44 PM PST
Police in the Bronx arrested a man for taking his own car back after they had claimed it was lost, because it was still being used as evidence in a case.

"It's been a nightmare," Jamieson Prince said.

Jamieson Prince wants to set the record straight about the incident that turned his life upside down.

"An innocent man spent a day in jail for someone's screw up, and everyone's trying to sweep this under the rug and say go away," Prince said.

His case begins with his son's arrest for leaving the scene of an accident in Jamieson Prince's 2007 GMC Yukon. Police from Harlem's 28th precinct took the vehicle into evidence.

But when the 43-year-old went to the precinct to see if he could pick up the vehicle, police told him it had been lost.

That was confirmed by a paper trail that includes a lost property report from early July.

It was a heartbreaker for Prince who he felt helpless.

"No one would help me, precinct, insurance, no one would help me," Prince said.

For weeks he searched for the SUV himself and he says he found it.

Surprisingly enough it was parked just a few blocks away from the precinct and didn't look like it was lost at all.

So you'd think the case would end there, but it didn't end there, he was arrested at his home in the Bronx.

Police charged him with criminal possession of stolen property, his GMC Yukon.

"'I am clearly the owner of the vehicle', did you say that to them?" Eyewitness News asked.

"Yes," Prince said.

But, police in the Bronx threw him in jail anyway.

He says he was locked up for about 24 hours before being released by a judge.

His wife says this case has been one major disappointment after another.

"First, I feel embarrassed by the judicial system, let down, and disappointed," his wife said.

According to court documents, police arrested him because even though the vehicle was officially categorized as lost, "it was still evidence in a case and the defendant did not have lawful custody," and "did not have permission or authority to take, remove, or exercise control over (the vehicle) without first obtaining permission from the New York City Police Department."

Earlier this month, on January 12th, almost two and a half months after his arrest the Bronx DA's office dropped the charges against him.

He's relieved about that, but still upset his daughters witnessed his arrest.

"Them seeing me in cuffs was very embarrassing and it really upset my family, a lot," Prince said.

He has his freedom, but he still doesn't have his SUV.

Police still have it.

The Bronx DA's office told Eyewitness News that they are working on the paperwork to get it back to him.

Meanwhile, while he waits, this MTA worker is paying the car note and insurance for an SUV he's not driving, but that he says he needs for his family.

Do you have something to add to this story? Click here to contact Eyewitness News.