NC Sheriff's Deputy Leads Armed Mob To Black Teen’s Door Because This Is How 2020’s Gonna Roll
Dameon Shepard, a high school senior in Wilmington, North Carolina, was home playing video games the night of May 3 (because what else is there to do during a stay-at-home order) when the mob showed up. He'd answered the door to find two men holding a shotgun and a semi-automatic assault rifle — holy shit! — and behind them were a group of about 15 white people. They weren't dropping by to deliver a casserole.
Leading the mob was Jordan Kita — a now fortunately former New Hanover County sheriff's deputy. A 15-year-old girl, Lekayda Kempisty, had gone missing earlier that day, and the mob of amateur detectives believed the key to finding her was someone named Josiah. Dameon wasn't Josiah, and when an angry mob is looking for you, not even Josiah should be Josiah.
While terrified, Dameon remained relatively calm given the situation. He tried repeatedly to explain that the mob was at the wrong house. Dameon even pointed out the sign in his front yard congratulating “Dameon" — not Josiah — on his high school graduation. That wasn't good enough and when Dameon tried to shut the door of his own house, Kita blocked the door with his foot and demanded Dameon let the mob inside. There were no legal grounds for this request.
Dameon Shephard threatened by 'vigilante mob' www.youtube.com
Dameon's mother, Monica Shepard, was home and also asked the mob to leave, but they tried — unsuccessfully, thank God — to force their way inside.
From the AP:
"Coming to the door like that with a mob of people with guns, what do we expect? What were their intentions?" Monica Shepard told WECT-TV. "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. I don't want him to be a statistic. It's scary."
According to the Port City Daily, the Shepards are one of just two black families in their predominately white neighborhood. Josiah used to live next door to the Shepards but he went to a different school. Someone called the police on the mob, but the arriving deputies "made no arrests, took no names of the individual(s) who were at the Shepard residence, and apparently conducted no investigation," according to Jim Lea, the attorney representing the Shepards.
LEA: I don't think in my 40 years of living here in New Hanover County I've ever seen anything like this. We are so lucky that nobody got shot or killed. To arrive on somebody's doorstep in 2020, with a gang of people, guns — I don't know what a police officer was doing out here … It's just such a bad case of racial profiling and discrimination, along with just outrageous behavior. And we can't tolerate it in 2020, or in any time.
Fortunately, Kita and another man, Austin Wood, now face criminal charges for their extracurricular vigilantism. District Attorney Ben David announced at a press conference Friday that Kita was charged with misdemeanor breaking or entering, forcible trespassing, and willful failure to discharge duties.
DAVID: [Kita went to the Shepard home] while armed and in uniform in a county where he was not duly sworn in and in furtherance of personal — not law enforcement — purposes.
Wood is charged with "going armed to the terror of the public," as North Carolina citizens are barred from arming themselves "for the purpose of terrifying others." There's a bit of history there, you see.
Kita reportedly had a "familial relationship" with Kempisty, who was later found safe. One of the armed men was apparently her father. Although Kempisty's race is uncertain, this story can't help but remind me of growing up in South Carolina 30 years ago: A black teen could expect this sort of late-night visit if he'd sat too close to a white girl in the cafeteria. I'd perhaps naively hoped we'd left that grossness in the distant past along with my 16-year-old waistline.
This was the type of attempted home invasion that Lindsey Graham once argued suburban women need high-capacity semiautomatic weapons as protection against. Monica Shepard would've been within her rights to mow down anyone who tried to forcibly enter her home. I'm glad she didn't, but Kita and Wood need to spend a good long while in jail.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).