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Deputy accused of leading armed ‘mob’ to Black teen’s home is acquitted in NC

North Carolina teenager Dameon Shepard, shown with his mother, Monica and attorney, Jim Lea, was threatened by a mob of armed whites who came to the wrong house.

North Carolina teenager Dameon Shepard, proven along with his mom, Monica and legal professional, Jim Lea, was threatened by a mob of armed whites who got here to the fallacious home.

AP

Two white males accused of exhibiting up at a Black teenager’s home on the coast of North Carolina with weapons and a few dozen different individuals in search of a lacking lady final 12 months have been acquitted on felony costs.

One of the boys was a deputy with the native sheriff’s workplace on the time.

Austin Wood and former New Hanover Sheriff’s Deputy Jordan Kita have been discovered not responsible by Judge Chad Hogston in Pender County courtroom on Thursday. The trial started Dec. 4 however was postponed a number of occasions as a result of of COVID-19, the District Attorney’s Office beforehand instructed McClatchy News.

Wood and Kita are accused of leading an armed mob to Dameon Shepard’s door late one evening in May. Shepard is Black, and the group was completely white.

“What this verdict says today is the criminal intent of both Jordan Kita and Austin Woods was apparently not proven beyond a reasonable doubt but that doesn’t mean that the Shepard’s real fear wasn’t valid,” District Attorney Ben David mentioned, WECT reported.

Kita was fired from his job and charged May 8 with misdemeanor breaking or entering, forcible trespassing and willful failure to discharge duties after David mentioned he arrived on the Shepards “while armed and in uniform” on private enterprise. He was reportedly looking for his sister on the time, in accordance to The Wilmington Star News.

Wood was charged with “going armed to the terror of the public,” which bars North Carolina citizens from arming themselves “for the purpose of terrifying others.”

A protection legal professional representing Kita didn’t instantly reply to McClatchy News’ request for remark Tuesday. Woody White, who represented Wood, mentioned in an announcement he is grateful his shopper was exonerated and that the case “was never about a racial mob.”

“Austin Wood should never have faced criminal charges in the first place,” he mentioned.

Kita and Wood have also been named in a civil lawsuit filed final month in Pender County Superior Court. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which filed the case on behalf of Dameon Shepard and his mom Monica, mentioned it was “disappointed in the outcome of the criminal trial.”

“The harm that the defendants caused our clients demonstrates that the nation’s, and indeed North Carolina’s, history of racist violence against Black people is far from over,” the nonprofit mentioned in an announcement Friday. “The fact that defendants did not stop to think how their actions — taken late at night, in a large group, while armed with multiple guns — would impact the Shepards, is evidence that white privilege remains alive and well.”

According to civil courtroom paperwork, Dameon was a senior in highschool when a gaggle of about 15 people knocked on his door round 10 p.m. on May 3. He was reportedly taking part in video video games on the time.

The group believed the lacking teenage lady is perhaps with somebody named “Josiyah” who went to Topsail High School, his attorneys mentioned. Shepard went to Laney High School, and there was an indication in the entrance yard along with his identify on it congratulating him on graduating.

Still, the group reportedly refused to go away, inflicting Dameon to develop into “very frightened and upset” and waking up his mother, the criticism mentioned.

A neighbor ultimately referred to as 911 and the group dispersed earlier than reconvening when regulation enforcement arrived. They stayed for roughly 10 minutes whereas deputies spoke to the Shepards however no arrests have been made or names taken, the lawsuit mentioned.

The lawsuit alleges trespassing, assault, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional misery, invasion of privateness, interference with civil rights and violations of the North Carolina Fair Housing Act.

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Hayley Fowler is a reporter at The Charlotte Observer protecting breaking and real-time information throughout North and South Carolina. She has a journalism diploma from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and beforehand labored as a authorized reporter in New York City earlier than becoming a member of the Observer in 2019.

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