Media Reports Man's Car Seized Because He Witnessed Crash, But It's Not True
Washington, D.C. - A Baltimore man's story has gone viral after he told news stations about how the police seized his car for witnessing a crash.
Rather than waiting to verify the nonsensical claim, numerous news outlets ran the story.
Now, it turns out that the story wasn't true.
Benjamin Davis III was driving when he saw a car crash. He says that he stopped to help and left when the police told him he could leave.
He says he was stopped down the road and the police said that they were taking his car because he witnessed the crash.
Davis told WJLA that he was not involved in the crash and that his driver's license was active and his car is registered and insured.
"Benjamin Davis III says his car was towed because he stopped to help the victims of a fatal crash," WJLA reported under a photo of Davis in the TV station's story.
"He said, 'You're being detained because you were a witness to a vehicle where someone died in an accident,'" he told WJLA.
The article also stated "Davis said he was made to wait for about two hours and was harshly questioned, before he claims a police supervisor told him because he witnessed a fatal crash, his car was being towed."
WJLA's post on Facebook at 7 a.m. Tuesday had been shared 1,917 times by 3:20 p.m. Dec. 12. And numerous other news sites had run with the same narrative.
But police told the real story.
Dustin Sternbeck, spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department, said in an email that it was learned at the scene of the fatal accident on Sunday that Davis' driver's license had been suspended, making it a crime for Davis to drive
"His Maryland driver's license was suspended on November 9, 2018," Sternbeck said in an email to Blue Lives Matter. "The vehicle he was operating was kept for safekeeping and the owner may retrieve it at any time."
But that's not the story Davis told WJLA.
The TV station didn't mention in the article if that they had attempted to contact the Metropolitan Police Department.
When asked about the story, WJLA told Blue Lives Matter that they had contacted the police, but it took MPD a day and a half to respond, so they ran the suspicious story anyway. Once the department responded, the news station says they updated their story.
However, as of Wednesday evening, their story still doesn't report that Davis' license was suspended.