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A bystander’s car was hit by a bullet in Toronto and seized by police. He had to pay over $600 to get it back

An employee of a Mississauga nightclub whose car was struck by a bullet and seized by police after a fatal shooting last month said he was “shocked” when he had to pay more than $600 to get the vehicle back.

“Just shocked,” Joseph, who asked that CTV News omit his surname, said. “I live in the suburbs – this kind of thing just hasn’t happened to anyone I know.”

Joseph said he was working at Jungle Nightclub, located on Eglinton Avenue East in Mississauga, on Dec. 31 when a drive-by shooting took the life of a 19-year-old woman.

“It’s very sad,” he said. “That was the first time someone got killed outside of the club.”

As shots rang out, one hit Joseph’s car and hours later, Peel Regional Police told him it would need to be seized as evidence in their investigation.

“The officer told me it should be released within 24 to 48 hours,” he said.

That didn’t turn out to be the case. Despite calling the police station daily, Joseph said he did not hear back from a detective until Jan. 3, four days later, telling him his car could be retrieved and that there might be a “nominal fee.”

When he went to pick up his car, an employee at the towing lot informed him he would need to pay $550, before tax.

Joseph ended up paying for $600 to get his vehicle back after it was seized as part of a Peel police investigation. (Handout)

“The first thing that came to my mind was stress,” Joseph said. “I’m thinking how am I going to pay this?”

He paid the fee and left, but a feeling of unease stayed with him, he said.

“I just thought if anyone else who did nothing wrong had to pay to get their car back, I would think that’s not fair,” he said. “Police are meant to protect and serve the citizens where they operate.”

When reached for comment by CTV News Toronto, Peel police said the fee was an “oversight on their part.”

Police can seize civilian vehicles in several instances, including but not limited to license suspensions, traffic offences, and parking violations. In most cases, the registered owner of the vehicle is on the hook for any costs associated with the vehicle and its storage while seized.

However, if a civilian’s vehicle is seized as evidence in an investigation into a crime they had no part in, police can cover those costs. In this case, that’s what should have happened, Peel police said.

“It has since been rectified and [Joseph] has been contacted and should be receiving a refund on his credit card,” a spokesperson for the service said.

Shortly after, Joseph said he received another phone call from a detective.

“He called me personally, he gave me his phone number, and he said, ‘We are going to make sure that the credit card fee is waived or you’re going to get the charge back. We’re going to cover the costs. If it’s still on your bank statement by mid-next week, give me a call.‘”

While Joseph said he feels reassured hearing that a refund is coming his way, the ordeal pushed him to speak publicly.

“I just wanted people to know what to do if it happens to them.” 

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