Montrose, CA — Renowned private investigator Ken Sheppard parked his black Chevy Tahoe on a street in Montrose, California, on March 3, 2014, to conduct surveillance for a workers’ compensation fraud case, when several Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies took it upon themselves to accost and harass him — for having tinted windows.
No one in the neighborhood called to report a suspicious, out-of-place individual — or for any other reason — yet these overzealous agents of the state pulled up behind Sheppard’s vehicle under that assumption, and approached with weapons drawn.
Fortunately, Sheppard’s occupation meant his vehicle was outfitted with plenty of video recording equipment. Unfortunately, the irrational and obviously terrified officers couldn’t fathom the black man had a wholly legitimate reason to be parked in the largely white neighborhood — even though residents didn’t seem to care.
As journalist Jasmyne Cannick reports, the private investigator’s Tahoe did, indeed, have tinted rear and side windows — as would be necessary to effectively do his job — and was insured for $3 million. By all accounts, it would appear the deputies didn’t bother with even a cursory investigation of Sheppard’s plates before assuming he had no business in Montrose.
Deputy Plunkett, who eventually identifies himself, exited his patrol car with his gun drawn and walked to the driver’s side of the SUV. Sheppard, aware he’d been cased and profiled incorrectly by the feckless officer, rolled down the window and immediately showed both hands to prove he didn’t have a weapon.
In video footage, Sheppard politely, understandably, and immediately requests the deputy holster his weapon — but Plunkett gets in the man’s face, and peers into the vehicle, and in a confrontational matter, says,
“What do you mean, ‘holster my weapon’?”
“Well, you’re pulling your weapon, so I’m telling you holster your weapon, because you’ve got nothing to fear,” Sheppard calmly responds. “My hands are clearly in sight.”
Plunkett seems intent on starting trouble. In fact, were it not for his costume and shiny badge, his actions would be considered blatant and unjustified harassment and intimidation.