Zebulon officer-involved shooting puts spotlight on mental illne - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

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>>

  • Shooting at Waters Ave. and 38th Street in Savannah

    Shooting at Waters Ave. and 38th Street in Savannah

    Sunday, April 20 2014 1:43 PM EDT2014-04-20 17:43:34 GMT
    Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police have the area of Waters Ave and 38th Street cornered off with crime scene tape. Around 12:45 p.m. police were called to the scene where they found a man in the street shot. The SCMPD Spokesman, Julian Miller, said the victim was in a white sedan when shots were fired from another car striking him. The white sedan came to a stop in a yard. The man was taken to the hospital. The victim's name has not been released yet or his condition. Police do not have a...
    Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police have the area of Waters Ave and 38th Street cornered off with crime scene tape. Around 12:45 p.m. police were called to the scene where they found a man in the street shot. The SCMPD Spokesman, Julian Miller, said the victim was in a white sedan when shots were fired from another car striking him. The white sedan came to a stop in a yard. The man was taken to the hospital. The victim's name has not been released yet or his condition. Police do not have a...
  • April Mugshots

    April Mugshots

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 11:48 AM EDT2014-04-15 15:48:25 GMT
    James SiebenthalJames Siebenthal
    The following are mugshots and charges of individuals arrested between April 1-4 by the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.
    The following are mugshots and charges of individuals arrested between April 1-4 by the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.
  • SURVELLIANCE VIDEO: Runaway Horse in Downtown Savannah

    SURVELLIANCE VIDEO: Runaway Horse in Downtown Savannah

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 5:08 PM EDT2014-04-15 21:08:52 GMT
    WSAV has learned that a horse carriage was involved in an accident in downtown Savannah on Monday. A viewer tells News 3 that the horse went 'berserk' after the accident. Savannah Police have closed
    WSAV has learned that a horse carriage was involved in an accident in downtown Savannah on Monday.
Powered by WorldNow

1430 East Victory Drive
Savannah, GA 31404

Telephone: 912.651.0300
Fax: 912.651.0320
Email: newsemailalert@wsav.com

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