By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
In July 2002, the couple separated after a stressful time in which Kershaun II and Karon lived in Ridgecrest. Six kids were too much at once, Scott says. Vanessa threatened to divorce him and later obtained a restraining order. Unplugged from the most fundamental relationship of his life, he contemplated suicide. He was treated for severe depression and posttraumatic stress disorder, related to his breakup, and recurring violent visions of his youth. Plus his mother, who had been an inspiration, was seriously ill, with kidney failure.
“I’ve lost too many people in my life,” Scott explains of his decision to seek help. “You know, there’s a lot of people in South-Central that are so depressed they don’t even know it. They think it’s because they’re having a bad day.”
Angry and fearful of losing his children, in the early-morning hours of August 8, 2002, Scott went to the couple’s house and found Vanessa with a previous boyfriend and another man. Accounts of that evening vary, but it set off a negative chain of events.
According to Ridgecrest Police Chief Michael Avery, who read from a report filed by Vanessa that morning, Scott climbed through the window carrying a gun, grabbed the telephone from her hand as she called for help, and demanded that the two men get down on the ground, as she ran from the house.
Officers arrived at the scene after Scott left and took statements from the two men that matched Vanessa’s statement, which she gave at a separate location. No one was hurt. A few days later, when her husband was arrested, Vanessa told police there was no gun on August 8 and that she had let him in the door that night.
“I lied,” says Vanessa of her report to the police, during an interview at Lerdo Detention Facility last month.
“Vanessa was mad at me and wanted to hurt me,” Scott says. “She was acting stupid, I was acting stupider.”
The couple reunited, but they had made some new enemies. Scott says the August 8 incident gave county officials the impetus to press the couple on their welfare status, which he says the county had been aware of since November 2001 but to which it had chosen to turn a blind eye. Now, though, Scott was branded as a welfare cheat and a troublemaker. “I became public enemy number one,” he says.
Prison bound: Vanessa on her
way to do 30 days.
Scott says that when the Kern County Department of Human Services contacted him, he told them his Del Taco wages were being garnished to pay child support. The county began deducting the amount of his wages from the family’s cash aid, he says, and eventually, unbeknown to him, charged him with welfare fraud in early February 2003, even though his wife was the cash-aid recipient.
Scott found out about the welfare-fraud charge the hard way. Ridgecrest police, who had not forgotten about Vanessa’s allegedly false report from the previous summer, stopped the couple in front of their apartment on February 26, 2003, for driving with a broken taillight. They pulled Scott from his car, and an officer drew his gun. His 4-year-old daughter was in the car and wet her pants she was so scared. Police handcuffed him, ran a check and found an outstanding warrant for welfare fraud, he says.
Vanessa, who lashed out verbally, was cited for obstructing a peace officer. A police report from February 27, 2003, states that Scott “had been known to carry firearms in the past,” and that he had been “reported to have been planning an armed robbery.” Yet police never bothered to search his car or his apartment for a gun, he says, and the reports of a planned robbery — which Scott says are ludicrous — were spurious at best since no robbery investigation ever took place.
Ridgecrest police began dogging Scott at every available opportunity, his wife says. Rumors surfaced that he was dealing drugs. “’Shaun couldn’t go out of the house without the police coming over and questioning him or threatening to arrest him,” Vanessa says.
“With my past I would have to be a complete idiot to be dealing drugs or doing anything remotely related to gangbanging,” Scott says.
Bruce Haggerty, a former Ridgecrest chief of police and now the chief of police in Chico, acknowledges that matters got out of hand. “I was impressed Kershaun made it out of Los Angeles and was up here trying to do what’s best for his kids,” says Haggerty, who was detective commanding officer of the Los Angeles Police Department’s 77 Division at the time of the 1992 riots. He and Scott had discussed the riots on Haggerty’s frequent visits to Del Taco, the chief says.
“I don’t know about armed robbery or drugs, that’s probably just people talking,” Haggerty continues. “Kershaun had [domestic problems] and I can relate to that. His marriage was falling apart and he did some real human things.”
Haggerty did nothing to call off the dogs, however. Nor did Avery, who succeeded him as chief of police in March 2003. And Scott did nothing to back down from what he saw as blatant harassment — calling officers “pig” and “coward,” according to one report.