DETROIT (WXYZ) — He works to go viral on social media, but not like this.
When Detroit Police held a press conference on Thursday and posted video on their Facebook page saying they arrested a street racing YouTuber and others and planned to keep his Lamborghinis, they got hundreds of thousands of views.
“Some of these folks make a living out of going around to major cities and doing drag racing in the streets,” said Chief James White of the Detroit Police Department.
“All these people have been arrested and are looking at prosecution,” said the chief.
He said he wanted to hold the press conference to send a message to drag racers that they risk losing their vehicles.
“These vehicles will be converted. We’re keeping them. We are going to do everything in our power to keep them,” said Chief White.
But now Sean Tien of the YouTube channel DreamCars Daily is saying not so fast.
“It is slander to put my car, front and center, in press conferences and say that all parties have been arrested and are being prosecuted. I have never been arrested. I have never been ticketed. I am not under prosecution for anything,” said Tien.
Tien is the owner of two Lamborghinis the chief points to as he talks in the video.
Police shared one of the videos Tien posted as evidence during their press conference. You can see Tien and another man discuss having bail money in case they are arrested street racing in Detroit. You then see cars racing down a street at night.
Tien said the videos are made for entertainment purposes and are not necessarily factual.
Police say they saw the video on social media in April.
Tien says police boxed him in as he drove the speed limit on May 20. He recorded what happened next, showing he was giving notice of seizure and intent to forfeit paperwork and let go.
“I think a government that goes unchecked is one of the biggest concerns in society,” said Ramy Hijazi, Tien’s Defense Attorney.
Sean’s Attorney Ramy Hijazi says it is illegal for police to lie about his client and his cars. He says, as the press conference was happening, the prosecutor’s office was offering a settlement. Tien has to pay $4300 plus storage and fees to get his cars back as soon as Monday.
“Using my car as props in their political stunts, I take issue with,” said Tien.
“Sean wants people held accountable,” said Hijazi.
Holding police accountable, WXYZ called DPD, who admitted Sean was never arrested. What Chief James White said at the press conference was not true. Tien has also not been ticketed or charged.
There has been no correction posted to the police department's viral Facebook post in which the statement regarding an arrest was made as of the publishing of this article.
The Detroit Police provided a statement to WXYZ saying:
The Detroit Police Department will pursue charges against Sean Tien and others involved in similar reckless behavior.
In the Facebook Live video, Chief White relied on information reported to him during his first week on the job regarding who was arrested.
Mr. Tien and his defense attorney are not being truthful and in fact, have not struck a deal with the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office to return the vehicles unlike reported in this story.
The driver of the vehicle racing against Mr. Tien's Lamborghini was arrested at his home outside of Detroit and officers recovered multiple firearms.
Chief White has laid out an aggressive 5-Point Summer Control Plan that includes a crackdown on illegal drag racing and drifting in our communities.
Chief White has also made it clear this is a quality of life and safety issue that must be stopped because our community demands it. Mr. Tien and his friends from Kalamazoo are not welcome here if they want to break our laws.
In addition, the police department will work closely with the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office to eliminate the possibility these vehicles can be used in the future.
“There has been no warrant request or criminal ticket presented to Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office in this case,” said Maria Miller, Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor, in a statement.
Miller says drag racing can be deadly and is considered a nuisance under local ordinances. A vehicle can be seized for nuisance abatement even if there is no criminal ticket or charges issued. The Wayne County Forfeiture Unit is reviewing the case and declined to comment on any negotiations.
“The police have the ability to seize vehicles, but they have no authority to keep a car. The matter must either go to court as a civil forfeiture case or can be settled by our office out of court,” said Miller.
We've posted the entire statement from Miller at the end of this article.
As for holding Tien accountable, we asked if he went street racing in Detroit.
“Somebody did,” he said. “And I don’t know, my attorney says I shouldn’t talk too much about that.”
There has been no warrant request or criminal ticket presented to WCPO in this case. The result of drag racing can be deadly and WCPO has had cases where innocent young children were killed. Drag racing is considered a nuisance under the Wayne County ordinances. A vehicle can be seized for nuisance abatement even if there is no criminal ticket or charges issued. Currently, the WCPO Forfeiture Unit has the case and it is under review. We are unable to comment on any negotiations in a case.
In this case the paperwork issued by the Detroit Police Department references $900. However, this form also says that the fee schedule is discretionary. The new forms provided to the police, were updated in 2020 to indicate the $900 does not apply to drag racing. The first offense for drag racing was increased in 2020 to $2500 per our office policy. The $900 fee schedule still pertains to other nuisance offenses, such drug offenses.
The police have the ability to seize vehicles, but they have no authority to keep a car. The matter must either go to court as a civil forfeiture case or can be settled by our office out of court. It is important to note that forfeiture money goes directly to the police and does not come to this office. The police agency can give up to 20% to us for our administrative costs.