A Key West man who unapologetically lives in his white Dodge van near Higgs Beach and has accused police of harassing him, wants a city-appointed board to clear his name.
Shahdaroba Rodd, 67, who was convicted at trial of violating the city's lodging-in-vehicles prohibition, has complained to the Citizen Review Board that two officers lied in court about having found a bucket of human waste inside the van where he sleeps.
"I most certainly did not have any feces in the bucket," Rodd wrote in a complaint filed with the city about the March 9, 2013, incident at the corner of Casa Marina Court and Reynolds Street.
Police Officers Marcus del Valle and Darnell Sealey didn't include a word about finding anything like human waste inside the 1999 van. But at trial, they told Judge Wayne Miller that they could smell the filth from inside Rodd's van.
"I am not a sloppy, dirty, unkempt person," Rodd wrote in the five-page complaint filed Feb. 24 with the board that reviews allegations of police officer misconduct.
"Does it even remotely make sense that I would defecate in a bucket and then go to sleep when I could walk but a very short distance and use a public restroom?" Rodd wrote. "Certainly not."
Del Valle and Sealey said nothing of any waste smell in their initial report or on the video recording of the incident, Rodd said.
Rodd said the police want to portray him as a health hazard in Key West with "this totally preposterous" bucket testimony and says they single him out for the lodging law, which the city bolstered in 2012 in an effort to rein in homelessness on the island.
The Citizen Review Board will hear Rodd's complaint at 6 p.m. tonight at Old City Hall, 510 Greene St.
City: Case already closed
City officials say Rodd has already had his day in court, where Judge Wayne Miller in December found him in violation of the city law.
"The matter was and remains a matter for the courts," Police Chief Donie Lee wrote in a March 14 memo to Susan Srch, executive director of the Citizen Review Board.
Assistant City Attorney Ron Ramsingh agreed that Rodd's objection to the bucket story and claims of harassment were addressed at trial.
In 2013, police warned Rodd six times about illegally living in his van. Three others were warned for illegal camping or lodging since January 2013, according to Sgt. Joe Tripp.
When asked his address, Rodd said his van, Miller pointed out in his Dec. 19 ruling that dismissed the van dweller's allegations of police harassment and comparing his citation to the type of conduct barred by the case law Pottinger vs. City of Miami.
Hardly, the judge said.
Pottinger addressed the city's practice of arresting homeless people who had no other place to go to "exercise simple life-sustaining activities," and confiscating their possessions.
In contrast, Rodd is making a clear choice to live in a van.
"The city of Key West affords homeless persons the opportunity to temporarily lodge in a facility called KOTS," Miller wrote, referring to the Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter on Stock Island.
Rodd "has made a conscious decision to not avail himself of the opportunity that KOTS offers," the judge concluded.
Rodd was never taken into custody and formally arrested the night of March 9, 2013, the judge noted. None of his property was taken.
"The facts of this case were undisputed and uncontroverted," Miller wrote.
Judge: Rodd is no victim
At about 10 p.m. March 9, 2013, Rodd was locked inside his van, which had privacy shades across the front windshield, police reported.
When emerging from the Dodge van, police described Rodd as unkempt, red-eyes and obviously having just been asleep.
"In addition, there was a 5-gallon bucket within the van that appeared to contain human waste," Miller wrote.
Rodd's van had a solar panel, blacked-out windows and a clothes line attached to the roof, which also held a makeshift wooden storage area holding plastic storage containers, police said.
Rodd "was not involuntarily placed in the position of being 'homeless,'" Miller wrote. "The defendant has consciously chosen that status."
Rodd was issued a citation and summoned to court. Miller also denied Rodd "indigent" status after a records check showed three vehicles registered in his name: a beige Volkswagen van, a red motorcycle and a white station wagon.