Local News

Kenly Officer Saved From Serious Injury by Vest

Posted March 2, 1998

— A Kenly police officer shot at point-blank range early Tuesday during a traffic stop on U.S. 301 was treated and released from a Johnston County hospital.

Officials say officer Todd Smith's bulletproof vest may have saved his life.

Investigators say Smith pulled over a black domestic sedan, possibly an 1980-83 model Oldsmobile, because it had no plates. Upon approaching the vehicle and smelling marijuana, two of three suspects got out and wrestled Smith to the ground where one of them shot the officer with his own .40-caliber Glock handgun.

Sergeant Tim Murphy tells WRAL's Brian Bowman that it is department policy that all officers wear bulletproof vests while on duty. Tuesday morning, that policy apparently paid off.

All three suspects fled the scene after the shooting. They are considered armed and dangerous. Officers are still searching for the men, as well as their black sedan. Officer Smith's firearm was recovered nearby.

Smith was expected to return to work Tuesday afternoon.Editor's Note:

No matter what type of call they answer, law enforcement officers know danger could be involved. According to the State Bureau of Investigation, 807 North Carolina officers were injured while responding to disturbance calls, including domestic violence calls, in 1996.

Traffic pursuits and stops were responsible for 372 injuries, and another 250 officers were injured while handling prisoners. Although bullet proof vests provide officers with some protection not all officers wear them.

Last year, across the nation, 71 officers were shot and killed in the line of duty. In only two of those cases did a bullet pierce the vest and cause the fatal injury.

This year,15 officers were shot in the chest or back while wearing a vest that did stop the bullet. andJohn Conway


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