You could call this a comedy of errors, except there was nothing funny about what happened to this senior citizen. A Nevada Highway Patrol cop ran the wrong plate numbers, and the dispatcher took down the wrong VIN, and what came up in their system was a stolen car.
This Washington state older couple were driving their old classic car when they got pulled over. The Free Thought Project detailed what happened next:
“Driver! Remove your keys from the ignition and put them on the roof now!” screams the trooper over his loud speaker.
At first Robin Bruins found it funny that the senior citizen couple, who broke no laws, was being pulled over. But that changed quickly.
“Actually, I think I might have giggled to Bev saying, ‘well, I don’t know what this is all about’ and I put the keys on there,” Robin Bruins said. “And I turned and looked back and saw three gun barrels pointed at me. And, obviously it hit me. Whoa! What’s going on here? To this day, I have never experienced anything like looking down the barrel of guns like that.”
Multiple officers were shouting multiple different commands, which were conflicting. Fortunately, Bruins wasn’t shot for listening to one command while simultaneously disobeying another during the confusion.
In broad daylight, and on the side of the road Robin Bruins was forced to take off his shirt and hold his hands in the air while several officers drew down on this innocent senior citizen.
Bruins told KLAS, “And it wasn’t until I had taken my shirt off and told to get on my knees and handcuffed, and I said, ‘What’s going on? Do you think this car is stolen or something?’ And he said, ‘exactly right. And their car is going back to its rightful owner.’”
In the meantime, a different set of officers has their guns drawn on Robin’s wife Beverly, who is in the passenger seat with a broken leg. She was forced from the car at gunpoint and then told to walk backward — with a broken leg.
“I got out of the car and I thought, how am I gonna walk back without crutches?” she said. “So, I went to reach for my crutches in the back seat, and they yelled at me, ‘Keep — we said keep your hands in the air and walk backward towards us.’”
Luckily Beverly wasn’t filled with bullets for attempting to grab her crutches.
“And then she (the trooper) ran a check on my license plate and came back and un-handcuffed me and asked me if I’d like to say goodbye to my husband,” Beverly Bruins said. “And I said, ‘goodbye to my husband? Where’s my husband going?’ And she said, ‘well, he’s going to jail.’ So I went over to see Rob, and he’s in the back seat with no shirt on, hands behind his back and tears are running down his face.”
Robin Bruins was subsequently taken to jail and thrown in a general population holding cell, where he would be denied his medication.
“And I said, ‘well I’m past the time for my medications, can I take those now?’” he said. “You know, thinking that he was going to give ‘em to me. And they said, ‘no, you can’t have anything you brought with you.’”
After Beverly Bruins had found a hotel room, she went to the jail to try and get her husband out. It was at the jail where she discovered the police incompetence that got them humiliated, almost killed, and her husband behind bars.
Restored plates, issued in the same year a classic car was made are legal in Washington state. However, when the trooper decided to run the plates on this car, he forgot to add a + sign to the beginning of the number, so it came back to the wrong vehicle.
That’s what got the couple unlawfully pulled over.
The incompetence continued after the car was stopped. When the trooper called in the VIN to dispatch, the dispatcher entered the wrong number into the computer. The random wrong number happened to be for a stolen car.
Thankfully, this whole episode was caught on the cops’ own dashcam video. Even while Mr. Bruins was in the patrol car waiting to be hauled off to jail like a common criminal, you can hear the police on the phone discussing the fact that they got the wrong plate numbers, but they arrested him anyway. Just in case.
Now, this couple is suing the police for their ridiculous incompetence. More than likely, their defense will be that it was an “honest mistake.”
What I’d want to know is what were the police doing running the plates to begin with? Was this couple doing something while they were driving that suggested to the police that they were involved in criminal activity that warranted detaining them? They weren’t speeding, they weren’t weaving, the usual things that get people pulled over. The police were randomly tailing people and checking their plates. That should have never happened. And if they hadn’t been doing that and violating the 4th Amendment, this whole episode would never have happened.
If there were a stolen car out there, there wouldn’t be a problem with looking out for cars that matched the description of the stolen car. But that’s not what happened here. If the police would follow the Constitution, these mishaps and “honest mistakes” would happen a lot less frequently.