A North Carolina sheriff’s deputy has been arrested after authorities said he led a group of armed people to a black teenager’s home in error while searching for a missing girl.
Dameon Shepard, a senior at Laney High School in Wilmington, had been at home Sunday night with his mother when an “angry mob” showed up at his door around 10:15 p.m., the family’s attorney James W. Lea told Oxygen.com.
The crowd of approximately 15 people, who were white, was searching for a missing teenage girl and believed Shepard was a teen named Josiah, who had at one time lived next door to the Shepard family but had moved about a month earlier.
“One had a shot gun and one had an assault weapon with him,” Lea said of the crowd. “So, they came up to the door and before Dameon could close the door on them, they stuck their foot in the door.”
Jordan Kita, an off-duty member of the sheriff's office in neighboring New Hanover County, was also among the crowd and was armed and in uniform, District Attorney Ben David said, according to local station WECT.
Lea said one of the men in the crowd “tried to charge” Dameon.
“To me, it was like a lynch mob,” he said.
According to Lea, Dameon tried to tell the group they had come to the wrong home, but the group continued to demand to be let inside the Shepard home. The commotion woke Dameon’s mother, Monica Shepard—who pushed her teenage son from the door.
“Coming to the door like that with a mob of people with guns, what do we expect? What were their intentions? What if he was the person they were looking for or what if I was not home? What would’ve happened? I don’t want to have that conversation,” she said, according to WECT. "I don’t want him to be a statistic. It’s scary.”
Lea said the family was “terrified” and in a “state of shock” during the confrontation. Neighbors in the mostly white neighborhood eventually called the Pender County Sheriff’s office and deputies arrived to disperse the crowd.
However, Lea has alleged that the law enforcement officers did not make any arrests or take any names at the scene that night.
“They apparently were not going to do anything about it,” Lea said, adding that his office is preparing a civil lawsuit on behalf of the family.
The family held a press conference on Thursday because they felt like it was “the only thing to do,” Lea said.
On Friday, David announced that Kita had been charged with forcible trespass, misdemeanor breaking and entering, and willful failure to discharge duties, according to a statement from the district attorney’s office obtained by Oxygen.com.
Kita is also no longer employed with the sheriff’s office as of Friday, prosecutors said.
“The case was investigated by the Pender County Sheriff's Office, which has jurisdiction over the case and began an investigation as soon as the incident was reported. The investigation continues and remains active,” the statement said. “In order to protect the integrity of the investigation and the pending cases, our office is limited on what we can say about the case and look forward to the facts emerging in future court proceedings.”
A second man, Austin Wood, has also been charged with going armed to the terror of the public.
The missing girl, 15-year-old Lekayda Kempisty, was later found safe.
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