Sheriff's officer OK after shooting

By Vicki Hyatt | Nov 17, 2012
George Shane Bivens

Haywood County Sheriff's Deputy Nathan Sutton was treated and released at Mission Hospital after he was wounded while responding to a domestic disturbance call at 235 Walnut Valley Lane in Clyde.

Sheriff Bobby Suttles said Sutton was shot in the lower leg when he and Deputy Roger Kent were trying to get inside a home where they feared the well-being of a 9-month old baby was in jeopardy.

The child was in the back bedroom, but an aggressive pit bull prevented entry. As shots were fired to contain the dog, Sutton was wounded.

George Shane Bivens, 24, was later found outside the home. His girlfriend, Jessica McCoy, had called 9-1-1 saying Bivens had threatened her and tried to run over her with a car. The baby was in the car at the time.

McCoy was able to run to a neighbor's house to make the call, and Suttles said she gave permission to enter the home to check on the baby's safety.

"When the officers went in door, a large pit bull attacked and rounds were fired at the dog," Suttles said. "One of the bullets hit the officer in lower calf. They thought the suspect was in house with the baby, but he somehow or another got out of the house, went under the crawl space."

After the officer was wounded, Bivens gave up, was arrested and brought to the sheriff's office where he's facing at least three charges — child abuse, attack with a deadly weapon for trying to run over McCoy and resisting, obstructing and delaying an officer.

Bivens has a record of prior assault on officers and has outstanding traffic warrants, Suttles said.

At the hospital, Sutton's wounds were cleaned and dressed, and a splint was put on his leg. He may be off of work for a while, but could  return soon to light duty.

"The bullet went all the way through," Suttles said. "There's no major damage to his leg."

The dog ran out of the house and could not be found. Suttles said the officers were unsure whether the animal had been wounded.

While there is no way of knowing where the bullet that wounded Sutton came from, Suttles said he suspects it came from the other officer's weapon, though it could have ricocheted in close quarters.

While there will be a review of the incident to see if any lessons can be learned, Suttles said there's always uncertainty when responding to calls.

"Every call you go to, you never know what can escalate from it," he said. "You want to look back to determine what happened but the guys were defending themselves after they were attacked."