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Homeless Veteran Hires Alameda Attorney to Fight Illegal Camping Citation

Aaron and his service dog, Captain. (Facebook)

Aaron and his service dog, Captain. (Facebook)

A veteran that Alameda police cited last month for sleeping in his vehicle in a park is holding true to his promise to fight the ticket, having hired a seasoned Alameda criminal defense attorney to work on his case.

Aaron Colyer was cited by officers on July 24th for “habitating in a vehicle,” according to the citing officer, in a city park between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. (Colyer captured the interaction on video and posted it to YouTube.)

He vowed to fight the ticket and has hired attorney Barbara Thomas, of Alameda, a 20-year felony criminal defense attorney, to lead the effort.

Thomas has sent a letter to Alameda police chief Paul Rolleri seeking clarification on the citation.

In the letter, a copy of which has been obtained by Action Alameda News, she wrote, “The violation appears to read ‘5-25.1 AMC Human Habitation in Veh 2200-0606’. In preparation of Mr. Colyer’s defense, I tried unsuccessfully to locate this Alameda Municipal Code Section [hereinafter ‘AMC’]. There is no AMC Sec. 5, but if the Officer meant the 5 to be an S, the AMC does have a Section 25.1 titled: ‘Certain Officers [of the City of Alameda] to Reside In the City.’ I can assure you that while Mr. Colyer is a veteran who has served his country, he has never been, nor is he now, Alameda’s City Manager, Fire Chief or other person covered by S-25.1.”

The cause for the citation has been reported variously as “unlawful camping” or “habitating in a vehicle”; Colyer has previously said that he was cited simply for homelessness.

Thomas is asking the police department to “please locate and provide me with the appropriate section of the suspect ordinance, and any legislative history for the section,” and indicates that she will be proceeding with a discovery request with the City Attorney for Alameda.

Reached by e-mail, Chief Rolleri told Action Alameda News,”I haven’t seen it [the letter] yet, but it’s within his rights to do so [fight the citation].”

Thomas, a UC Berkeley and UC Hastings College of Law graduate, sat on Alameda City Council from 1987 to 1991, for two years of which she held the title of Vice-Mayor.

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