Harold Shepard, a 49-year-old security guard at a federal building, was driving through Thousand Oaks on his way home after work when he noticed a nearby driver texting behind the wheel.
Shepard had had a bad experience with a texter on the road once and wanted to report the chatty driver to the police. What luck, he may have thought, when he looked in his mirror and saw a LA County Sheriff's deputy on a motorcycle right behind him.
Shepard applied his brakes and stuck his arm out of his window, trying to flag down the officer.
He would soon learn that no good deed apparently goes unpunished.
According to a lawsuit filed against the sheriff's department, the deputy pulled alongside Shepard, told Shepard that texting was not illegal and then drove away.
Texting while driving, as many people know, is of course illegal under California law.
Puzzled by the officer's response and wanting an explanation, Shepard chased after the officer.
But when Shepard caught up with the deputy, he didn't get the answer he was looking for. Instead, Shepard claims, the officer told him to pull over and began giving him a ticket for changing lanes without using his turn signal.
Shepherd says he refused to sign the ticket and grabbed his cell phone to call 911. But the deputy ordered Sherpherd not to call 911 and then blasted Shepherd in the face with chemical spray, Shepard claims.
Yelling at the deputy and demanding an explanation for why he used his chemical spray, Shepard stepped out of his car.
He then saw the officer use his police radio and, according to the lawsuit, heard the deputy “make untruthful statements that Shepard was assaulting him.”
Shepard says that when he tried to get back into his car, the officer “without warning,” grabbed Shepard from behind and began choking him with his forearm.
Shepard is suing LA County and the sheriff's department in federal court.