Officer Travis Denny was placed on administrative duty after he shot 22-year-old Derek Smith in the chest during a shootout Saturday in Zebulon.
ZEBULON, N.C. -
A Zebulon police officer is on administrative duty after a
mentally-ill man was injured during a shootout Saturday.
Officer Travis Denny was placed on administrative duty after
he shot 22-year-old Derek Smith in the chest during a shootout Saturday in
On Saturday, the Zebulon Police Department responded to
assist the Wake County Sheriff's Office with an assault in progress on Moss
Road when the situation escalated with Smith bearing a rifle.
Police say Smith's grandparents had been trying to disarm
him prior to the police arriving, and Zebulon Police Chief Tim Hayworth said as
soon his officer pulled up to the house, Smith came out firing the rifle.
"The suspect fired a shot at the officers," Hayworth
explained. "They assumed a position and one of the officers returned fire
and struck Smith in the chest."
Zebulon Police has officers trained to deal with mental
illness, but advocates say the current training for officers dealing with those
with mental health issues doesn't go far enough.
"It doesn't have role playing exercises in the event
someone has a weapon," said Ann Akland, with National Alliance on Mental
Illness. "The training needs a little more work."
Akland said because the basic framework for the training already
exists, if the officers involved get together on it, the police department
could update the curriculum in just a couple of months.
Hayworth said in a different, less "volatile"
situation, his Crisis Intervention Team "could have talked him down."
Denny was not injured in the altercation and Smith is
recovering from his wound at UNC Hospital. Denny is on administrative duty
pending an SBI investigation into the shooting as required by law.