James Brooks said he couldn't believe what was happening. Police officers Connie R. Johnson and Russell L. Jackson said they had no choice. Joseph Collins said the whole thing was a misunderstanding.

It all started about 11 a.m. yesterday when Brooks, 36, pulled his Beitzel and Co. Liquors Inc. delivery truck to a halt in front of Lynch's Wine and Liquor store at 1619 L St. NW.

As he and his assistant prepared to unload the truck, which Brooks later said was carrying $40,000 worth of liquor, Johnson and Jackson of the D.C. Police traffic division approached and told them they could not unload the truck because they were in a no-standing zone.

Nonetheless, police say, Brooks' assistant removed four cases from the truck and took them into the store. In the meantime, police had run a tag check on the truck and found two outstanding parking warrants on it - grounds for booting vehicle.

The truck could not be booted because it was in a no-standing zone and because it was carrying so much liquor, police said later. So, as Brooks watched from the curb, one of the officers got in the truck and drove it away.

Brooks says the ignition keys were removed from his hands by one of the officers. Police say the keys were in the ignition.

The truck ended up in the traffic division impounding lot at New York Avenue and 7th Street NW. Two hours later, Collins, a vice president of Beitzel, bailed out the truck.

It cost $85 - $40 for the two outstanding warrants, $30 for parking in a no-standing zone and $15 for an open ignition.