Zebulon officer-involved shooting puts spotlight on mental illne - WNCT

Zebulon officer-involved shooting puts spotlight on mental illness

Posted: Updated:
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. 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 Zebulon.

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.

Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 2:49 PM EDT2014-04-22 18:49:19 GMT
    Image from CNN/KHOU-TVImage from CNN/KHOU-TV
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
  • Mom wins lawsuit against TSA after breast milk screening problems

    Mom wins lawsuit against TSA after breast milk screening problems

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 4:40 PM EDT2014-04-23 20:40:54 GMT
    A Southern California woman who was held at a Phoenix airport four years ago after refusing to have her breast milk X-rayed has reached a settlement with the Transportation Security Administration. Stacey
    A Southern California woman who was held at a Phoenix airport four years ago after refusing to have her breast milk X-rayed has reached a settlement with the Transportation Security Administration. Stacey
  • Owner of Raleigh 'Party Mansion' guilty of tax evasion

    Owner of Raleigh 'Party Mansion' guilty of tax evasion

    Monday, April 14 2014 4:07 PM EDT2014-04-14 20:07:04 GMT
    Claude Verbal II, who now lives in Miami, pleads guilty to a number of federal tax evasion charges.
    Claude Verbal II, who now lives in Miami, pleads guilty to a number of federal tax evasion charges.
Powered by WorldNow

3221 South Evans Street
Greenville N.C. 27834

Telephone: 252.355.8500
Fax: 252.355.8568
Email: newsdesk@wnct.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.