A North Carolina officer was fired and is under criminal investigation after he allegedly gathered a group of people and tried to break into a teen’s home while searching for a missing person, prosecutors said.
New Hanover & Pender County District Attorney Ben David charged Jordan Kita, a former deputy with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, with “forcible trespass, misdemeanor breaking and entering, and willful failure to discharge duties,” for the incident that took place on May 3, David’s office said. Monica Shepard told reporters that her son Dameon answered loud knocks to the door of their Pender County home and were allegedly confronted by Kita and other men, who were armed. Shepard and her son are both black; Kita and the group that confronted them are white.
Kita, who was off-duty but allegedly had his weapon and uniform, said they were looking for a missing girl and came to the address looking for a suspect with a different name, according to the mother and son. Dameon Shepard said he was confused since there was a sign on the lawn that announced his graduation from Laney High School with his name on it.
“I’m just like, ‘My name is Dameon. My name is Dameon. I go to Laney High School. I graduated. My sign’s on the lawn,” the teen told ABC affiliate WWAY.
Monica Shepard said she tried to step in and told Kita he had to leave. The officer allegedly said, “Well, I’m just going to step inside and close the door and talk to you guys,” and put his foot in the door, according to Shepard.
The officer and the crowd eventually left after they realized they had the wrong address, and the unidentified girl was found safe, according to the DA’s office. The New Hanover County Sheriff fired Kita on Friday while the investigation continues.
Austin Wood, who was in the crowd, was charged with “going armed to the terror of the public,” DA David said.
“Please remain calm and know that committed professionals will see that justice is done in a courtroom,” he said at a news conference.
Attorney information for Kita and Wood weren’t immediately available.
David said more arrests were pending and asked members of the public to provide more details about the incident. He could not give more information on the officer’s motivation or actions but did say there appears to be a “familial relation” between Kita and the missing girl.
“One thing we absolutely make certain of is that anyone who’s violating the law is treated the same,” David said.
Monica Shepard told WWAY she’s thankful that the incident didn’t end violently. She is mulling civil action against the officer, according to her attorney, James W. Lea.