Johnston County probation officer was justified in shooting armed man in wheelchair, DA says

Johnston County News

MIDDLESEX, N.C. (WNCN) – A Johnston County probation officer who shot an armed man in a wheelchair was justified in doing so, District Attorney Susan Doyle said Wednesday in a news release.

Probation officer William Carey Cooper was attempting to perform a residence check on Dec. 12, 2019, but was at the incorrect address, when he shot Jerry Dean Simmons in the leg, the release said.

Cooper was at the wrong residence along the 4600 block of Antioch Church Road. He knocked on the door and identified himself as a probation officer. He then saw a side door open with what he thought was a black, semiautomatic handgun pointing in the direction of his car. He couldn’t see the person holding the gun, the release said.

Cooper again identified himself as a probation officer, then drew his weapon and demanded Simmons drop his weapon.

Simmons asked who Cooper was, and Cooper again announced that he was a probation officer. Simmons then said, “Come back over here so I can (expletive) kill you,” the release said.

After notifying Johnston County Communications, Cooper then saw Simmons’ wife, Leslie, open the front door. Cooper told the woman he was looking for a woman on probation. He told her he was a probation officer, which she relayed to Simmons, the release said.

Cooper then saw Simmons coming down a wheelchair ramp on the left side of the residence. He had a gun in his lap. Cooper told him to drop his weapon. Simmons said he wouldn’t, then raised his hand and pointed the gun at Cooper, the release said.

Cooper fired his gun and hit Simmons in the leg.

Simmons suffers from various medical conditions that require him to use a wheelchair, negatively affect his hearing, and cause him to have difficulty seeing, the release said.

A deputy and an EMT who responded reported a strong odor of alcohol coming from Simmons’ breath. The deputy also described him as “drunk screaming,” according to the release.

“Cooper was legally justified in his use of force. As a result, no criminal charges against Cooper will be filed related to this incident,” Doyle wrote.

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