Former sheriff’s deputy found not guilty in ‘mob’ incident involving teen

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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A former New Hanover County Sheriff’s deputy and another man accused of terrorizing a teen in Pender County last year have been found not guilty.

In May 2020, then Laney High School senior Dameon Shepard says he opened his front door to find a group of 15 people, some holding guns, led by an off-duty New Hanover County Sheriff’s deputy in uniform.

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“They came to my doorstep and they were looking for a missing girl,” Shepard said of the incident in 2020. “They were given my address and my name and that they were going to come in and look for her.”

However the group had the wrong name and address. Shepard’s mother Monica claims then-deputy Jordan Kita tried to stick his foot in the door and force his way in.

“He stated it again, ‘well I’m just going to step inside and close the door and talk to you guys.’ and I said, ‘no you’re not,’” she said.

The group eventually left and Shepard called the Pender County Sheriff’s Office to investigate.

Kita was subsequently terminated from the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and charged with failure to discharge duties of his office, forcible trespass and breaking and entering. Another man allegedly part of that group, Austin Wood, was charged with going armed to the terror of the public.

“One thing we absolutely make certain of, is that anyone who’s violating the law be treated the same,” District Attorney Ben David said when announcing the charges last year.

Nine months later, both men have been found not guilty. Defense attorney Woody White released the following statement Thursday evening:

“Neither Jordan Kita nor Austin Wood should have been charged with crimes in the first place. This case was never about a racial mob, despite the media’s best efforts to portray it as such. Instead, It was about how the Shepard family were exploited by greedy lawyers who preyed on racial sensitivities and falsified a story just to seek fame and fortune by committing racial extortion. That’s the real crime here. We are so thankful that The judicial system worked today and exonerated my client. I hope this case will be the beginning of our society turning its back on those that try and pervert the justice system by gaming it to pursue fake social justice cases. Doing so undermines the real need to find justice in actual cases of racial prejudice.“

WWAY has not yet reached out to the Shepards or their attorney. We will post more information as it becomes available.

Pender County NAACP president Reverend Dante Murphy released this statement:

That “all” charges against both defendants were dropped leaves a sick feeling in my stomach. Clear reckless and invasive behaviors by one class of people (Whites) can so easily be dismissed or explained away. Explaining away does not work for other classes (Blacks and minorities). Any view of history, recent or less recent, will demonstrate that bold fact. 
 
You have indicated that the White search party did not intend to harm the Shepherd family. But it did cause harm. Hit and run drivers wish to cause no harm, but that is no reason to declare them not guilty. Harm was caused to the Shepherds (a hit and run) and to every black family that now worries more than ever when Whites with guns  knock at their door. They are afraid that trespassing and endangerment laws have no teeth. There is no time in American history when Blacks did not face harms of this nature. And today, as if to add insult to injury, a family that was “hit” is being asked to apologize to those who “hit and ran.” Think about a Black person approaching a White person on the street. Picture the Black person with a gun. Now picture the response when the Black person asks the White person to apologize.