A woman has filed suit against the Williston Police Department, claiming officers seized and impounded her pickup truck and are refusing to give it back.
In a civil lawsuit filed Tuesday, Aug. 6, Paige Fleminger claims that in early July, she was riding as a passenger in a 2016 GMC 2500 pickup when an officer stopped the truck and had it towed away. When Fleminger tried to get her truck back, Ericka Davis, a Williston police officer, told her that on July 7, she’d seen the truck commit a traffic violation and that the driver of the truck drove off when she tried to stop it.
Davis told Fleminger that she could have the truck back if she gave police a statement about whether she or another person was driving, the suit contends.
“At this time, no charges have been filed against Ms. Fleminger or anyone else in relation to the alleged July 7, 2019 incident,” Jeremy Curran, Fleminger’s attorney, wrote in a motion to have the truck returned. “It is unlikely that charges will be filed based upon the information available to law enforcement at this time, which is the likely reason they are holding her property until she speaks to them. This seems to be a tactic to coerce a confession to a crime by what amounts to holding Ms. Fleminger’s property hostage until she admits to participating in a crime.”
The court filing does not say what kind of traffic offense the officer claimed to have seen.
In the filing, Curran also wrote that the police don’t need to keep the pickup, even if charges were eventually filed. Rather, prosecutors would use photos of the truck.
He pointed out that the fact police would be willing to return the vehicle undercut the fact their claim that it’s evidence.
“This further demonstrates that law enforcement has no legitimate purpose in retaining possession of this vehicle aside from using it to force Mr. Fleminger into confessing to participating in a criminal act,” he wrote.
Curran wrote that Fleminger is asking for her truck to be returned, for the city to waive any impound or storage fees and for the police department to pay for Fleminger’s attorney fees.
The police department had not filed a response to the suit as of Thursday afternoon.
The suit is the second one this year that claims law enforcement is illegally holding a vehicle seized during an investigation.
In March, Rick Markie filed a civil suit against the Williams County Sheriff’s Office claiming that in December 2018, investigators had used a search warrant for the OnStar system in his 2013 GMC Denali SUV to seize the vehicle. The vehicle had still not been returned in March.
“Any information gathered from the OnStar module could have reasonable been obtained within a few days,” Jeff Nehring, Markie’s attorney, wrote in a court filing.
The suit asks for the return of Markie’s vehicle, for compensation for the time police held it and reimbursement for attorney fees.
The Sheriff’s Office has not filed a response to the suit, but a trial is scheduled for Sept. 23. Nehring told the Williston Herald on Thursday that Markie’s vehicle had been returned.