CHICAGO (CBS) — If your car is taken to the auto pound, will you ever get it back? Maybe not.
The mother of a murdered teenager was told her car had been destroyed after it was seized as evidence. That’s when she turned to CBS 2 Investigator Pam Zekman for help.READ MORE: CBS 2 Exclusive: Now In New Home, West Side Mom Says She Never Left Kids Alone Or Without, Says People Don't Know Her Real Struggle
“I wouldn’t want this to ever happen to another mother. I wouldn’t ever want to see another mother go through what I’ve gone through,” Kimberly Gaffney-Israel said.
Her son, Michael Elliot Lewis, was shot to death at a gas station on 80th and Cottage Grove earlier this year.
At the time of the shooting, Lewis was driving the family car, a 2006 silver Dodge Stratus. The police took her car as evidence, pending the results of the investigation.
Once their review was complete, the Chicago Police Department told Gaffney-Israel she could retrieve her vehicle.
“They told me I could pick it up 30 days from the date on the second letter that was dated May 26th. I went to the pound on June 23rd and they said the car had been disposed of on June 10th,” well within the 30-day deadline, she explained.
When asked how she felt when she was told that the car had been disposed of, Gaffney-Israel said, “I was anxious to go get the car … because Iwanted to sit in it, because that was the last place that my son had been prior to being shot. But they said the car’s gone. I can’t sit in the car anymore because the car is gone.”
Just days after the 2 Investigators asked police how the car disappeared, Gaffney-Israel got a call telling her the car had been found.READ MORE: Man Beaten, Robbed Of 3 Luxury Cars He Was Delivering To Des Plaines Dealership
“All of a sudden, pow, the car appears,” Gaffney-Israel replied.
A police spokeswoman claimed the mistake was due to a clerical error, a mix-up between the company that runs the city’s auto pound and the Police Department as to the deadline for when the car had to be picked up.
Sources said that reductions in police officers assigned to the auto pounds might be leading to problems like this.
However, there was no shortage of officers when Zekman went with Gaffney-Israel to get her car. The auto pound manager wasn’t happy to see the 2 Investigators and called the police. Moments later, four patrol cars arrived.
Gaffney-Israel was also unhappy when she finally saw her car.
“Now that I have my car back, my car has been damaged. I still don’t have it in my possession now, but I’m allowed to pick up the vehicle. It’s been damaged, so I can’t drive it off the premises,” she explained.
Gaffney-Israel filed a police report, claiming the damage was done to her car at the auto pound – which was yet another snag in her already long ordeal.
“Why did I have to go through this? Why did I have to? On top of losing my baby, why did I have to go through this?” she asked.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Weekend Warmup
The Police Department said that, last year, 831 cars were towed and held for investigation with no complaints from the owners. As for what happened to Gaffney-Israel, a police spokeswoman said, “This human error is in no way related to the redeployment of personnel from administrative positions to field assignments.”