The video was recorded by private investigator Ken Sheppard, who was doing his job.
It was just a routine workers’ compensation fraud case for Ken Sheppard. Show up for a spot check, do some surveillance of the subject and keep it pushing. But on March 3, 2014, it was anything but routine for the renowned private investigator known for busting reality TV series “Bridezillas” star Anita Maxwell for insurance fraud.
On location in Montrose, California, a city with just under 20,000 residents and less than one percent of them African-American, Mr. Sheppard was conducting regular surveillance of a subject while parked in his black Chevy Tahoe.
Black guy in a car, when LA County Sheriff’s Deputy Tai Plunkett came upon him. Plunkett didn’t know who he was or why he was there. Ignorance was a good enough reason.
Plunkett made it clear that this offense was not complying with his commands, a good enough reason to put a gun to Sheppard’s head. But it wasn’t good enough to pass legal muster, so they put their heads into concocting a better excuse.
And lest anyone think it’s as simple as black and white, male and female, this should disabuse them of the notion. It’s cop and non-cop. And it could have very easily been dead non-cop, as there is no reason to unholster a gun and put it to a person’s head absent a reason to kill.
Had this ended the situation, perhaps everyone would gone on with their day. But it didn’t.
And while you might think that’s the end of the drama, it’s not.
Without a warrant, deputies attempted to inspect the contents of and even entered Mr. Sheppard’s vehicle. After his field frisk, Mr. Sheppard was placed into the backseat of Deputy Plunkett’s cruiser. It’s at this point that Deputy Hanson gets into the front seat of the cruiser and asks Mr. Sheppard what he was doing in the area because, according to her, Mr. Sheppard “did not belong in the area.”
As noted, had Sheppard not been recording, none of this would be provable. But he was and it is. And this didn’t happen to some gangbanger in the ghetto, but a private investigator, a “Code 5,” doing his job.
This video was taken in 2014, and Sheppard sued for violation of his civil rights. It didn’t turn out well.
On April 20, 2015, Mr. Sheppard filed a civil lawsuit in federal court for violation of his constitutional rights, assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and various other charges.
The trial took place last week in Los Angeles September 13 through September 15 before the Honorable S. James Otero. After hearing the evidence and viewing a small portion of the video evidence provided by Mr. Sheppard, a jury of 8 persons found in favor of the sheriff’s department.
You want to know what it looks like? This is what it looks like. You want to know what becomes of it? This is what becomes of it. Not all the time, but then, it shouldn’t be this way at all. Yet it is.
So there ya go. Not even a legit private investigator enjoys the assurance of making it home for dinner after an unjustified encounter with police.