Update (March 28, 2021):  The lawyers of two men who were acquitted after terrorizing a Black teenager and his mother at their home last year are now demanding an apology, saying the family wrongly painted them as racists.

Monica Shepard said her family will not talk to Austin Wood and Jordan Kita, an off-duty officer who was among the 15 white men who came to the mother's North Carolina home.  

"I've said this before: It's about accountability," the mother told CNN. "You can't just form a mob and go around being vigilante citizens. There's laws against that. I'm not interested in sitting down. It's all about accountability at the end of the day."

Shepard's 18-year-old son, Dameon, was playing video games late in the evening when the group, including the off-duty sheriff's deputy, knocked on the door and asked for information about a missing girl. 

The men carried weapons while pressuring Dameon, who didn't have any answers for them. The mother woke up during the commotion and tried to get the group to leave, but they allegedly continued to ask questions and kept demanding to come inside. 

"He just said ‘I’m going to step inside, close the door and talk to you guys.’ And I said, ‘no you’re not.’ He had his foot on the threshold of my door, holding the door open and he said it again, he said ‘I’m going to step inside close the door and I’ll talk to you,’ when I said ‘no you’re not,’” Monica said in May.

According to the men's lawyers, the two who are now demanding the apology were looking for a missing girl on May 3, but they happened to end up at the wrong house during the search. They eventually left upon realizing they were at the wrong house. 

Since then, the family has compared the group to the KKK and filed a civil lawsuit, demanding more than $25,000 in damages, legal fees and "training concerning the history of racism and mob violence." The lawsuit accused "the mob" of trespassing, brandishing weapons and harassing and intimidating the family.  

Arusha Gordon, associate director for the Lawyers' Committee's James Byrd Jr. Center to Stop Hate, commented on the defendants' demand for an apology. She described the request as an attempt to deflect focus from what happened.

"I think this is all a distraction from the real issues at hand, which is the fact that last May a large group of white people showed up armed late at night, invaded their home and sense of privacy and put our clients in fear of their lives," Gordon said.

Original (May 8, 2020): A group of white people in North Carolina, including an off-duty sheriff's deputy, is accused of terrorizing a Black teenager at his home. According to WECT6, the group allegedly knocked on the door late Sunday night while Dameon Shepard was playing video games at his home in Pender County. 

The family's attorney, James Lea, said the teenager answered the door and the group asked for information about a missing girl. The group was actually looking for a man who lived next door, WECT6 reported. 

Lea said the group continued to pressure Shepard for information he didn't know, while one of them was carrying an assault weapon and another had a shotgun. In a letter to New Hanover and Pender County District Attorney Ben David, Lea identified one of the group members as J.T. Kita, an off-duty member of the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.

The attorney said Kita, who was in uniform and armed, stuck his foot in the door and demanded to come inside the home.

Dameon's mother, Monica, woke up during the commotion and tried to get the group to leave, but they continued to ask questions and kept demanding to come inside, according to WECT6. 

"He just said ‘I’m going to step inside, close the door and talk to you guys.’ And I said, ‘no you’re not.’ He had his foot on the threshold of my door, holding the door open and he said it again, he said ‘I’m going to step inside close the door and I’ll talk to you,’ when I said ‘no you’re not,’” Monica said.

The group eventually realized they were at the wrong house and left. By that time, police were already called, the attorney said. Lea added that the deputies who responded to the call didn't investigate the situation and one captain said it would be complicated to arrest anyone, but he’d “look into it,” WECT6 reported.

“We obviously cannot have armed groups of citizens patrolling the streets of Pender County or New Hanover County terrorizing innocent families," Lea wrote in his letter. "Add to the fact that they were also accompanied by apparently a New Hanover County Sheriff’s Deputy that was off duty and armed, makes this matter particularly egregious.”

Monica said the situation was scary because she doesn't want her son to be a statistic.

“Coming to the door like that with a mob of people with guns what do we expect?" she said "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.”

According to a spokesperson for the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, an internal affairs investigation is underway. 

In an interview with Port City Daily, Monica said the family lives in a predominantly white neighborhood but there has never been an issue before.  

"I was being questioned as to whether or not, this is my house. Like 'you live here? This is your house?' I never thought I had to deal with that. I'm very disappointed," she said. "To question whether we belong here … it was too much."


Dameon said he was shocked when he opened the door.

"I wasn't expecting to see people with weapons at my door," the teenager said. "When my mom came out and she grabbed me, I didn't wanna get back because I was like 'I don't want you to deal with this because I'm the only man in the house at the moment.'  … I wanted her to step back but she didn't want me to go up there because she felt like I was in danger."