A vehicle repossession is never a great experience, for any parties involved. For the car’s owner, it can be an embarrassing or a life-changing experience that disrupts your everyday life. For the repo company it can get real with owner encounters that can turn outright dangerous. But what happens when the company repossessing the vehicle is the one that makes the situation worse? Detroit Free Press details one woman’s alleged attack by the men repoing her vehicle, the police’s involvement and why she’s suing both after the ordeal.
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It started in the summer of 2022. The Free Press writes that Amika Ward, of Flint, Michigan, was sitting in her Chevy Captiva one evening, having just come back from buying a gift for her friend’s birthday. Unbeknownst to Ward, her finance company, Credit Acceptance, had put the call out the day before for her car to be repossessed. Her and her boyfriend were $1,500 behind — two months worth — on the car. Before I go any further one thing needs to be pointed out here: Someone paying $750 a month for a Chevy Captiva is wild. But anyway…
Ward suddenly felt a bump. It was the repo man’s truck latching on to her car. Two men got out of the truck and approached the crossover. One went to the driver’s side door. According to the article, Ward claims the man demanded she exit the vehicle. “He opened the door and said, ‘Bitch, get the f—- out of the car,” she says. The second man was at the passenger side, demanding she had over the keys to the car. That’s when she says, the guy at her window reached in and tried to take the keys out of the ignition. She alleges that while doing this he hit her and pepper sprayed her. Then Ward says she heard one of the men say “She’s got a gun.” Except Ward says she didn’t have a firearm on her. The two men then ran back to the truck and drove off with the Captiva and Ward still inside. “They dragged me through the whole apartment complex. I’m hitting on the brakes so hard, my tires exploded,” Ward says.
The police were called — by the repo men — and allegedly made the situation worse. Ward told the Free Press that police had pulled her out of her car and slammed her on the ground, immediately drawing their guns. After she was cuffed, they asked if she had a weapon, to which she answered no. But they still went on to search her vehicle. According to a police report the Free Press reviewed, the repo men had claimed that Ward had a gun and was attempting to drive off with the car, which was not accurate. Police found no weapon. Even though she had told them she in fact had no weapon.Ward claims the police still felt the need to lecture her, even going so far as to almost ridicule her over the missing vehicle payments. From the Free Press article:
“’Ms. Ward, if you would have just complied, all this wouldn’t have happened,’” she recalled an officer telling her before asking what her boyfriend did for a living.
He worked at an automotive plant, she told them.
“’He works there and can’t afford car payments?’” she recalled the officer saying.
All of this still makes Ward’s blood boil.
The vehicle was still repoed, but Ward and her boyfriend got it back a few days later, dropping $669 to get it back from the impound lot, as well as catching up on their payments. With that out of the way, Ward is now taking legal action. In two suits filed in a U.S. district court, she’s suing both the tow company, Alcar Recovery, and the Flint Police department, saying she was “demeaned, humiliated and traumatized” after both violated her civil rights. While the city and Alcar declined to comment (which is expected with an open case), Alcar responded to another complaint on the Better Business Bureau’s website claiming the company’s staff “is never rude to anyone.”
Ward’s lawyer, Ian Lyngklip, called the whole situation troubling. “Putting her in cuffs and detaining her for an unreasonable amount of time, and then letting the repo company go? This is very troubling,” he says. Lyngklip says the repo company broke state laws and it appears he may be right.
Michigan state laws regarding repossessions say that repo companies cannot disturb the peace during the repossession of a vehicle. This means they cannot threaten violence or harm someone, and more importantly, they cannot get police involved, unless a warrant is involved. And while Lyngklip isn’t condoning people hide their vehicle’s from the repo men, he says when tensions and emotions run high, they should try to repo another time.