Smithfield Police Captain Facing Charges Following Dispute Over Parking Space

Captain Ryan Sheppard (2016 Johnston County Report Photo)

Officer on administrative leave pending internal investigation

A Smithfield Police captain has been cited following an off-duty incident over a handicapped parking space. Police Captain Ryan Sheppard is charged with misdemeanor stalking and communicating threats.

The alleged altercation took place over-the-weekend at PetSmart in Morrisville. Captain Sheppard was briefly detained and handcuffed by Morrisville Police before being released at the scene. The alleged victim in the case went to the Wake County Magistrate’s Office and obtained a criminal summons against the law enforcement officer.

Around 2:15pm Saturday, Terence Priester said he was sitting alone in his car watching a video as he waited for his wife while she shopped in a nearby store. “An individual pulled behind my vehicle looking for a parking spot. The individual began violently pounding on the driver’s side window. I cracked the window out of caution. He questioned me whether I had a handicap placard, which was clearly posted. He left in an angry manner as if he was frustrated.”

“I rolled my window down and expressed my frustration in the way he pounded on my window and could have caused damage to my vehicle. In exchange, he said ‘F**k off. I am a police officer.’ I questioned how he had the right to approach my vehicle. He got back in the driver’s side of his vehicle, grabbed a black object that appeared to be a firearm and said ‘F**k off. I will shoot you. Let’s go, let’s go.'”

“I called 911 dispatch and after a few minutes the vehicle left the lot. I gave the license plate number to the dispatch. He left and came back. He backed in so his driver’s side was facing my driver’s side and continued to exchange words. I advised him I was on the phone with police. He said ‘Who gives a sh*t. I will be here when they get here.'”

“I was told by the dispatcher to remain in my car. (Captain Sheppard) left…and went into PetSmart with an animal.” As Captain Sheppard reportedly left his vehicle, Priester said he took a photo of the off-duty officer.

“(Morrisville) Police came about 10 minutes later, an officer pulled up, and dispatch disconnected. As I was talking with the officer, I saw another officer place (Captain Sheppard) into handcuffs.”

Prietser continued, “I advised them of what happened and (Captain Sheppard) denied anything that I said was true. He tried to elude to the fact that I threatened him, which never occurred. Factually, these officers were told three times what occurred. They attempted to get camera footage inside the store but were unable to get video of that location in the parking lot. I was advised to go to the magistrate and file a warrant.”

Priester, who is the First Vice President of the African American Caucus of the NC Democratic Party, said he made contact with Police Chief Keith Powell after the incident. “I was told the police officer was suppose to be on medical leave. He advised me there would be an open investigation.”

Pete Acosta, interim chief of the Morrisville Police Department confirmed Monday that his officers responded to the verbal disturbance. “Both parties reported threats. Nothing corroborated any of those threats. There was nothing for us to take action on. Both parties were advised of the warrant process.”

Chief Acosta did confirm Captain Sheppard was briefly placed in handcuffs by his officers. “The caller told our dispatcher that he had been threatened and had been threatened with a gun. That’s what our folks responded to. It is common practice for officers safety, and the safety of others, to detain others who we believe have a weapon based on the information given to us. As soon as we learned that information was no longer supported by what we found those handcuffs were taken off.”

Acosta confirmed Captain Sheppard’s personal vehicle was searched and a gun magazine was found but no firearm.

Smithfield Police Chief Keith Powell issued a statement Monday afternoon saying the allegations are being treated seriously and Captain Sheppard has been placed on administrative leave.

“The Smithfield Police Department is currently reviewing a report of a man with a gun in the Morrisville Shopping Center parking lot that involved Smithfield Police Captain R. Sheppard, while he was off duty on December 18, 2021. The call was handled by the Morrisville Police Department and any questions regarding the incident will need to be answered by the Morrisville Police Department.”

“The Smithfield Police Department has been Nationally Accredited Agency since 2015 and takes these situations very seriously. The agency is conducting an administrative investigation according to the agencies policies and procedures in regards to any potential policy violations. Captain R. Sheppard has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation,” Chief Powell stated.

Priester said he believes Captain Sheppard should lose his law enforcement certification over the alleged disturbance. “I am appalled by the fact that he is a law enforcement officer. I am calling for the city to have this person relinquished of his law enforcement license indefinitely. He was running his mouth. The only thing I said back to him was the police was on the way and I’m on the phone with dispatch. He said ‘Who gives a sh*t. I am a police officer and I will be here.'”

“If someone is this aggressive and pounding on a car, and he said he was a police officer, this is not the typical response you would expect from a law enforcement officer, which is appalling.”

Officer Sheppard was hired by Smithfield Police Department in March 1999 and was promoted to Captain in October 2016.

We have reached out to the attorney representing Captain Sheppard for a comment but so far have not received a response. The charges against the police officer are scheduled to be heard March 18, 2022 in Wake County court.


  1. Now folks I’m all for this officer to be out of a job should the evidence support the accusations. SOMETHING DON’T SEEM TO ADD UP HERE!!!??? Now the officer is in one of the most populated area of the triangle and there is no supporting witnesses? 99.9 % of people has camera equip cell phones and there is not a video of this incident? Not only shouldn’t they at least be audio of this? My last question is, was there no video of that area of the parking lot or did the video that existed just don’t support the claims? Now my last and most important question? Are our Police Officer’s being targeted when off duty for a political socialist/communist democratic hit piece for the upcoming election? I mean the one making the allegation is the Vice President of the African American Caucus of the NC Democratic Party is he not?

  2. Ah yes, it’s the complainant’s fault. It’s the victim’s fault he happens to be a Democrat, black, and an officer of a political organization. It’s the complainant’s fault there was no video. It’s the complainant’s fault this overweight beefcake raging middle-aged white off-duty man with a badge a gun harassed him. Yep, all his fault.

    And some of you wonder why we have problems in the United States. Trumpian middle-aged white male rage, personified. If it was Joco, Bizzell would have already fired his a** because rule #1 is don’t soil the reputation of an agency due to your personal actions. If anyone, an off duty cop is supposed to be a model citizen. Here, we have the opposite. But again, he assumed a black person with a handicap placard in a town 30 miles from his jurisdiction must be breaking the law, and he was just PO’d enough to take out some innate, inappropriate anger on the guy to “do his job.”

    As a middle-aged white male, this guy is a total embarrassment and makes me wonder if everybody assumes I’m one of these idiots just because of how I look.

    • Maybe your position would be more credible if there were evidence to support the member of a racist organizations claim…..that and you weren’t using stereo type slander of parties involved.

    • So you are the one with the video proof. Please post it so we can all see and make a judgement. Until then, you have your opinion and others have theirs.

      Where is the supposed gun?
      Is the gentleman handicapped?
      No cell phone video?

      Yep, dont believe him.

      You must be one of those woke white dudes who needs friends.

    • Do you always say things you may later regret when you learn the facts, or do you always jump to conclusions based on your bias?

    • Exactly–this story is a little over the top–does not ring true to me at all——-and despite his accusations, no gun was found. Sounds to me like the said “victim” is embellishing the story.

  3. My question is why he felt that this man being parked where he was had ANYTHING to do with him?
    He started this trouble when he approached this man in the 1st place. He probably didn’t like the fact that he was a “cop” and being talked to like the civilian idiot that he was for confronting this guy and in frustration..said or did something he should not have. Either way..The fact that he from the start thought this was a good idea tells me he doesn’t need to be serving and protecting. Fire him and found someone who has respect for himself and those he’s around!

    • Exactly. A Smifhfield PD officer has NO JURISDICTION in Morrisville. Wasn’t any of his dam*ed business unless it was a violent felony in progress. His “authority”, if he thought someone was parked illegally, was to call the MORRISVILLE cops who were on on duty. An off-duty cop (and especially one 30 miles outside his jurisdictional boundary) has no business approaching me for any reason. What was his intention? He couldn’t write him a ticket for being illegally parked in a handicapped spot if he was. Which obviously he wasn’t or the MPD cops would’ve cited him.

      I applied for a job at JR’s in Smithfield years ago. They use JoCo deputies for security because they can arrest and detain legally. They didn’t hire me because I was a deputy in Wayne County and had no police authority in Smithfield. My “authority” as loss prevention in JR’s was the same as any security guard, to detain and call the cops who have jurisdiction in Smithfield.

      Now that I’m retired I carry concealed (legally). But it’s to protect myself against the punk a** thug cops, not the bad guys.

  4. This is beside the point, but what I want to know is why was he taking up a handicapped parking place if he was sitting in the car. I know it is allowed as long as the person who the placard belongs to is the driver or passenger. If it is his placard and he wasn’t getting out he could park anywhere. If it was his wife’s placard he could have dropped her off and come back around to pick her up. No need to take up a space just because you can. I have been dealing with trying to find handicapped parking for over 30 years. When you have a child in a wheelchair that you can’t get out of the car without a wide parking space, it really touches a nerve to see people use those spaces when they don’t really need them. Rant over..

  5. Quite a sensationalist piece on both sides. First, there is quite a bit of column space dedicated to a he said/he said story. There are some holes in the complainant’s story, but that could just not be provided by the writer – especially when you note that the writer makes a point of saying that the complainant is black, a democrat, and may be an activist as it is an “African-american” organization. Face it, we’re all being played here with more actions to divide folks and have to ask, what is the goal here? Once folks are totally divided, are we going to simply blink and have one side go away? Folks gotta get along all over.

  6. Was he licensed? Maybe that’s why he was sitting in the passenger seat. Was he on some medication that advised him not to drive while taking it?

    Too many unknowns to determine that he was the bad guy for being parked in a handicapped parking spot. Me thinks if he shouldn’t have been there, MPD would’ve cited him when they came to do their investigation.

  7. Ben Blue Too. He was in the driver’s seat, not the passenger seat. If he or a passenger in the car belonged to the placard, he was legally parked. Laws need to be changed regarding using these spaces. I don’t know who said what to who, but it takes a mighty selfish person to use these spaces when they don’t need too. Just because they can, doesn’t mean they should and a lot of these selfish people have their butts on a church pew every week.

  8. How does a VP of an organization NOT have the skill to video the incident at some point? I’m assuming the video he was watching was on his cell phone.

  9. You know what’s interesting, that everyone will wait for the facts of the case to come out first before they make judgment. Yet, in other officer case concerning Johnston County everyone is ready to string the dude up before they even knew what happened.

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