Student arrested for parking violations because of unremoved warrant

Julia Brouillette

A student was arrested May 8 after the University failed to remove a warrant placed on him for violating several parking regulations. The student, ethnic studies junior Keenan Palmer, said he paid off the $955 warrant nine months ago.

Near the end of the spring 2013 semester, Palmer said he had received several parking tickets on campus before his car was booted. Palmer said he unsuccessfully attempted to remove the boot, which resulted in more fees from Parking and Transportation Services.

“I wasn’t really sure what the penalties were,” Palmer said. “I couldn’t pay all of the tickets I needed to pay at the time to have the boots removed, so the University actually ended up auctioning my car off.”

Jordan Metoyer, former Student Government chief of staff, said tampering with vehicle boots typically prompts PTS to contact the dean of students.

“For whatever reason, [PTS] decided not to contact the dean of students, and rather to place a warrant on the student, which never happens,” Metoyer said. “It is University policy and practice to immediately contact dean of students when something of that nature happens, so why that wasn’t the decision made is beyond me.”

Representatives from Parking and Transportation Services declined multiple requests for comment.

Palmer said he was able to pay the fees before registering for classes in the fall 2013 semester and assumed the warrant had been removed.

“As far as I knew, I had taken care of that,” Palmer said.

On Thursday, Palmer said he was pulled over by an Austin police officer because his passenger was not wearing a seatbelt, which eventually led to his arrest for an outstanding warrant.

“The officer came to the driver side door and said ‘please step out of your vehicle, we’re placing you under arrest for an outstanding warrant,’” Palmer said. “I wasn’t sure what he was talking about or what he was referring to.”

Palmer said he spent one night in jail before he was released on bail the following morning.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been arrested, first time ever getting into trouble, this is a totally new experience for me,” Palmer said. “My family is furious. My mother really thinks up to this point, the punishment has been excessive almost to the point of harassment because they auctioned off my car, I paid the fine and on top of that they also arrested me.”

Palmer said he received an email from PTS acknowledging an administrative error between PTS and UTPD that led to Palmer’s arrest. Palmer said he plans to work with an attorney to review PTS’s actions.

“We might have to hire two lawyers, one for the criminal case and one to review PTS’s conduct,” Palmer said.

UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey said the case is under investigation.

Palmer faces a Class B misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief and up to 180 days in jail, according to the Travis County Court Docket. Palmer is scheduled to appear before a county judge on May 23.