By Frances Weller | May 12, 2020 at 4:27 PM EDT – Updated May 12 at 6:43 PM
PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – The case of a Pender County family allegedly terrorized by an off-duty New Hanover County deputy and an angry white mob is getting national attention.
Monica Shepard and son Dameon, along with their attorney Jim Lea, will appear on CNN with Don Lemon Wednesday night.
Lea says since WECT first broke the story, national media outlets, including all of the major television networks and the New York Times, have called wanting to tell the story.
“It’s just struck a chord, especially with the shooting in Georgia and the episode that happened with the black couple in Raleigh — both of them lawyers — that were just walking down the street with their children and were accosted up there,” Lea said. “So, I think it’s struck another national chord and I’m glad it has.”
Jordan Kita, the deputy who was later fired by the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, was charged with forcible trespass, breaking and entering, and willful failure to discharge duties. A civilian, Austin Wood, was charged with going armed to the terror of the community.
Lea says Kita and over a dozen angry, white people showed up to the Shepards home demanding to know information about a young missing girl. The group was apparently looking for an individual named Josiah, who lived next door to the Shepards but left that neighborhood a month earlier.
Lea says he’s glad arrests were made but that it’s not enough. He is preparing to sue on behalf of the Shepard family.
“We’re in the early stages, looking at what we can pursue legally and civilly.,” he says. “We’re conducting our own investigation. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done before we pursue a civil lawsuit.”
Lea says he believes the case of Ahmaud Arbery, the Georgia man who was shot and killed while jogging, is part of the reason this story is getting so much national attention, and he says he believes the Shepard’s set a good example.
“They are willing to stand up and speak out and you can imagine their character because they stood there at that door–both of them–and refuse to let anybody into their house in the face of three armed people,” Lea says. “That kind of courage is the kind of courage you need and that’s the kind of courage that’s going to lead them to have a national platform. They are the perfect people to do this and they’ve got a great neighborhood backing them up, too.
Lea says there is a positive side to this story. It’s one he hopes to share on CNN to dispel myths about the Cape Fear region. The neighborhood where Monica Shepard and her son live came out in full support.
“This is a white neighborhood that came out on Sunday night and stood up for their black neighbors–predominately white and she’ll tell you that,” he says. “So the reaction from the white community has been fantastic. It really has. I’m very proud of that. I will never be proud of a group of vigilante people going out and doing what they did Sunday night, but it’s a good reflection on our community on what happened after that.”
Lea and the Shepard family are scheduled to appear on CNN at 11 p.m. Wednesday.
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