Issue May 6, 2008

No parking zone: A flap over parking enforcement has one Audubon Park resident trumpeting claims of police abuse

The Audubon Park police department may have picked on the wrong citizen when it started enforcing a parking ordinance in front of Suzette Sewell Scheuermann’s home on Eagle Pass.

Scheuermann lives on what you might call the bad end of Eagle Pass, near some rental properties catering to University of Louisville students. In February, she says, nearby parties prompted her to bring things to the attention of the Audubon Park Police Department.

“It was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made,” she said of the Feb. 21 phone call. “I just wanted police to ask people not to park in the grass. The police then pulled an ordinance and targeted me for parking legally.”

Since she moved to Audubon Park in 1995, Scheuermann said she parked on a paved pad in front of her home. On March 15, she got a warning on the hood of her car, notifying her that citations would follow. It said an ordinance prohibits parking there between the hours of 2 and 6 a.m.

She spent the next few days trying to contact the police department. Then, on March 22, she received a parking citation. She now believes her original call prompted the police to target her for enforcement of the ordinance.

Scheuermann filed a written complaint against Police Chief Carl Reesor for harassment and selective enforcement; she received another citation on March 25. She got another on the 27th, and marched up to City Hall at 4:45 a.m. to complain.

When she got there, none other than Reesor, who had spent a rainy night attending to an injured officer, greeted her. He admits he may not have been in the greatest mood. When she confronted him, neither knew at first who the other one was. She says Reesor responded to her by threatening to arrest her for harassment of a police officer.

Reesor’s version of the story is similar. He claims Scheuermann “approached me in my car screaming and yelling, and I told her it was against the law to harass an officer.” Reesor said when he learned who it was, he realized he shouldn’t talk to her because of her official complaint against him.

Prompted by Scheuermann’s original complaint, Reesor said that the department planned to begin enforcing the parking ordinance in March. He said officers may not have been aware of it. It requires that cars not be parked on pads adjacent to the street between 2 and 6 a.m.

He compared it to speeding — adding that the fact that you get away with it sometimes doesn’t make it unenforceable. He said Scheuermann simply refused to follow the law, and that she’s the only one in the city who did so.
“Officers aren’t expected to know every city ordinance,” he said. “I instructed our officers to give written warnings, since the ordinance hadn’t been enforced.”

But Scheuermann was just getting warmed up.
On April 15, Audubon Park Mayor Michael Scalise sent her a letter, advising her that her complaint against Reesor was “unfounded.”

That day, she mailed a letter to 555 households in Audubon Park. In it, she claims a track record of civic involvement in the neighborhood, serving as a block watch captain. According to the letter, “… the police in Audubon Park abuse their authority by singling out those that they want to punish for being outspoken.”
She says she fears the police and that she is being discriminated against.

Three days later, with her husband Henry driving, Scheuermann took a cruise through the city screaming out the window about “injustices” over the treatment she’d received from the police. As a result, she and her husband were removed from their car, arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

Reesor said he couldn’t comment on that case since it was pending in Jefferson District Court, with a hearing scheduled May 13.

As a result of the events of the last two months, she is planning to move to another city and rent her Eagle Pass home to college students. She doesn’t park on the pad in front of her house anymore.

Scheuermann has also put a half dozen signs in her front yard criticizing the police. She’s complained to the Audubon Park mayor and members of its council. And she’s put together a website that explains her case in painstaking detail, even displaying copies of letters she’s sent to public officials. She’s posted multiple photos of the police in action near her home, charging that she is being targeted for selective enforcement.

“Everybody gets treated the same,” counters Reesor. “Ignorance of the law is not an excuse to break it.

To see Scheuermann’s account of the situation, go to
http://audubonparkkydiscrimination.com/.

Contact the writer at
citystrobe@leoweekly.com