Published: 2016-10-14 16:00:00
Updated: 2016-10-14 18:54:05
Posted October 14, 2016
Lumberton, N.C. — A man shot and killed this week by a state trooper conducting search-and-rescue in a flooded Lumberton neighborhood had a lengthy criminal record, including several charges of pointing a gun at people.
Two members of the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office and Sgt. J.F. Hinson with the State Highway Patrol encountered Dennis Ray Hunt on West Fifth Street on Monday night while checking for residents needing help amid the flooding after Hurricane Matthew. Authorities said Hunt, 56, who was homeless, became hostile and displayed a handgun, so Hinson shot him.
A family member who didn't want to be identified told WRAL News that Hunt couldn't hear or speak and often talked with his hands. The relative said she wonders if Hunt's disabilities played a role in law enforcement viewing his actions as threatening, saying she never saw a violent side to Hunt.
His criminal record in Robeson and Cumberland counties tells a different story, however.
Hunt was convicted in 2005 of assaulting a government employee, and three years later, he was found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon, according to court records. He also has more than 20 trespassing and breaking and entering convictions dating to 1983, as well as three convictions for assaulting a female.
He had three pending charges of assault by pointing a gun in an alleged June incident, court records show.
Hunt's tangles with law enforcement also include a 2000 case in which he was assaulted by a Fayetteville police officer at the Cumberland County jail. The attack was caught on video, but the charges against the officer were dropped because Hunt didn't show up for the trial.
Troopers don’t wear body cameras, and it's unclear whether the Robeson County deputies had cameras that documented the shooting. All three law enforcement officers were searching the neighborhood in a Humvee.
Hinson, a 13-year veteran of the Highway Patrol, is on paid leave pending a review of the shooting by the State Bureau of Investigation, which is standard procedure.