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Man who fired at police has history of mental issues, brother says

Posted June 23, 2013

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— A man injured when a Zebulon police officer shot him has a history of mental issues, his brother said Sunday evening.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said Derek Steven Smith, 22, fired at the officer around 6 a.m. Saturday as the officer, responding to a disturbance call, approached Smith's home on Moss Road in Zebulon.

The officer returned fire, hitting Smith and leaving him in critical condition at a local hospital.

"That's not the kind of man my brother is," Chris Smith said. "My brother, in his right mind, would have never done something like that."

Chris Smith said he believes his brother has bi-polar disorder and that the family has tried for years to get him proper medical attention but that hospital stays have been short and help from doctors limited.

Investigators said Smith, who lives with his grandparents, was home Saturday morning trying to retrieve a firearm and that his grandparents were trying to stop him when the police officer arrived.

Derek Smith walked outside with a gun and shot at the officer.

"I want (the officer) to know that nobody is mad at him," Chris Smith said. "Everybody understands."

Chris Smith said his brother is now breathing on his own but far from making a full recovery.

Injured suspect struggled with mental issues Injured suspect struggled with mental issues

The brothers' grandparents, Willie Woods, 81, and Betty Sue Woods, 64, were also taken to WakeMed following the shooting with minor injuries, the sheriff's office said.

Investigators said they have received multiple disturbance calls at the home.

Harrison said the State Bureau of Investigation is now in charge of the investigation, which is standard in officer-involved shootings.

The officer has been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation.

62 Comments

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  • rwhitt88 Jun 25, 3:15 p.m.

    I know Derek personally, as well as his family. I went to school with these boys, grew up with them, so I know what they have been through. I personally believe that this was a botched suicide attempt. Some of you may condemn those that are truly sick, where others can see through the fog and recognize mental illness at it's core. He doesn't deserve to be condemned and ignored. This issue shouldn't be looked at lightly, either. Maybe, some people within your own families suffer, and can become potentially dangerous to themselves or others. Would you condemn them?

  • jenny06 Jun 24, 5:33 p.m.

    just because a relative says they suspect mental illness does not make it true

  • ListentoMeNow Jun 24, 5:31 p.m.

    This guy has a rap sheet a mile long. I don't think his brother should be pulling the mental illness card out at this time.

  • Wiser_now Jun 24, 4:36 p.m.

    For all those who are mocking the mental illness aspect - Mental illness is not made up. It is not easily controlled or treated. It makes people do awful things. I'm not excusing this guy - but mental illness exists and saying it doesn't will not make it go away.

  • Wiser_now Jun 24, 4:33 p.m.

    Lighten up, johnny2times. For once someone is standing up and saying it's not a policeman's fault for using his gun.

  • Viewer Jun 24, 3:55 p.m.

    "Funny thing is he would have been described as a “responsible gun owner” on Friday…Black HelicoptersNFood Insurance"

    I'm pretty sure his criminal record as of Thursday would have made him ineligible to be a gun owner in NC. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

  • johnny2times Jun 24, 3:50 p.m.

    "I want (the officer) to know that nobody is mad at him," Chris Smith said. "Everybody understands."

    I think you got this wrong Chris..why would anyone be mad at the officer for doing what he had to do because of YOUR family member DECIDING to shoot at an officer? Do people really think the cops are not going to shoot back? I bet the Officer is the one who is mad...your shooting family member should apologize to the officer man to man(or woman)for acting like a coward and trying to KILL THE OFFICER! Don't try and say your not mad at the officer...for what? Unreal.

  • WASP Jun 24, 3:35 p.m.

    History of mental issues? BULL!!! I hope the DA doesn't accept that as his plea when he goes to trial.

  • cynda-ur-way Jun 24, 3:25 p.m.

    blame it on Gkute

    Blame it on Gluten. Geesh!

  • Whosays Jun 24, 3:22 p.m.

    Yes he has a history:
    http://webapps6.doc.state.nc.us/opi/viewoffender.do?method=view&offenderID=1059993&searchLastName=Smith&searchFirstName=Derek&searchMiddleName=S&listurl=pagelistoffendersearchresults&listpage=1

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