Staten Island

NYPD Seizes Black Family's Car, Raising Racial Profiling Questions

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A family on Staten Island says their car was seized by NYPD officers with no paperwork and little explanation, raising concerns the family's son was racially profiled.

Joelyn Alves took cellphone video of her black Mercedes being towed on the orders of Staten Island cops because, she says, without evidence no one would believe their story.

The car is Nick Adenekan's, but registered to his mom, Alves. Last weekend, Adenekan, who is home from college, says he legally parked the car in the Great Kills neighborhood to go looking for a missing friend.

When he returned to his car, Adenekan says police from the 122nd Precinct were surrounding the Mercedes and that's when a female officer approached him. He claims no on asked to see his license or registration.

"She just turned her lights on. She said I can't get on my car. She said I'm not the registered owner," he said. "She said [the car is] under investigation."

Alves says she spoke to the female officer and explained the car was registered to her.

"I asked her why are you taking his car - she said it has something to do with guns and drugs and a stabbing," Alves said. That's when Alves says she drove to the scene and started videotaping.

”I asked them, 'am I under arrest—am I part of the investigation? Take me with the car if you’re going to to take the car.' She said I’m not under arrest," Adenekan said.

The car put on a flatbed truck, moved to the 122nd Precinct and parked in the back of a fenced lots where police vehicles are kept. The family says they went to the precinct and waited several more hours - insisting they weren't leaving without the Mercedes. A detective finally led them to the car, which had sustained front-end damage during the tow.

”You can tell someone tried to go through my car and look for something in there," Adenekan said it appeared the car was searched and he never gave up his keys.

Alves said she visited the precinct three times in the past week to get a report and has run into one roadblock after another. She recorded her conversations.

"Can I have the report?" she asks. The officer Alves speaks to said, "We don't have it."

“There’s not a voucher, there’s no paperwork. There’s no tow papers," Alves said. “Like, if I didn’t have video this and I told the story this would be dismissed like I must be lying.”

The family has filed a complaint with internal affairs and say they’re not going away quietly —they believe their experience is exactly the reason why people are protesting.

”I was them to fix his car and I sure want NPYP to apologize to him. It's not about suing because he doesn't need their money. It's about, 'You're gonna apologize and not treat my son like he's any different, hanging out on another side of Staten Island, on the South Shore, because it's Caucasian," Alves said.

The NYPD told News 4 there is an active internal investigation into the incident.

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