WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A former detention officer and his father have countersued a family who accused them of orchestrating an armed “white mob” in an incident that gained national attention last year.
There are two very different characterizations of what happened at the Pender County home on the evening of May 3, 2020.
Attorneys representing Monica Shepard and her son Dameon Shepard, the African American family at the center of the lawsuit, portrayed the case as “a present-day example of the long and ugly history of white mobs acting with impunity and reckless disregard in the extrajudicial pursuit of Black Americans.”
The two named defendants in the Shepards’ lawsuit, former New Hanover County Detention Officer Jordan Kita and his father Timothy Kita, and their attorneys have fervently denied any racial motivations. Instead, they say their actions were solely motivated by their desire to find Timothy’s missing daughter.
Kita was criminally charged with forcible trespass, breaking and entering and willful failure to discharge duties following the incident, during which he was accused of attempting to forcibly enter the Shepherds’ home. Kita and and another individual charged in the incident were later found not guilty of all charges earlier this year.
After the criminal case concluded, Woody White, who represented Kita’s co-defendant, issued a statement on the events that night.
“Neither Jordan Kita nor Austin Wood should have been charged with crimes in the first place. This case was never about a racial mob, despite the media’s best efforts to portray it as such. Instead, It was about how the Shepard family were exploited by greedy lawyers who preyed on racial sensitivities and falsified a story just to seek fame and fortune by committing racial extortion. That’s the real crime here. We are so thankful that the judicial system worked today and exonerated my client. I hope this case will be the beginning of our society turning its back on those that try and pervert the justice system by gaming it to pursue fake social justice cases. Doing so undermines the real need to find justice in actual cases of racial injustice,” he said.
Kita’s attorney also asked the Shepard family to apologize to his clients.
“Jordan Kita apologized to the Shepard family, said he was sorry for what happened, how they felt. We’re asking for the same apology for the statements that have been made about the Kita family — and if they’ll recant those statements or apologize for those statements, we will not sue them for libelous, slanderous, defamatory statements they’ve made through their lawyers,” Attorney James Rutherford said.
On Wednesday, attorneys for the Kitas filed a series of motions in the pending lawsuit, as well as a countersuit against the Shepards, claiming, among other things, defamation.
“Plaintiffs wrote, printed, posted shared, stated, caused to be written, printed posted, and/or otherwise published and communicated to third person that Defendants were racist, part of a racist mob, part of a lynch mob, brandished weapons, committed racialized terror, and/or perpetuated racially motivated violence,” the lawsuit states.
The suit goes on to say the Shepards knew the Kita’s were not racist and their actions were not racially motivated. You can read the full response to the lawsuit and the Kitas’ counterclaims below.
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