'No good deed goes unpunished': Trooper recalls decision to shoot, kill 15 year-old boy

FHP officer talks about fatal use of force

'No good deed goes unpunished': Trooper recalls decision to shoot, kill 15 year-old boy

15 year-old Zayn Terryn was shot to death by Lt. Channing Taylor in 2015 after he fired at Taylor, hitting him in the shoulder.

When he was 2 years old, Lt. Channing Taylor got his first police uniform. He knew, then, that he wanted to be a part of law enforcement.
"When I was growing up there was a lot of police shows on.  I couldn't figure out why they commanded so much respect and then I figured out, they're out there helping people. And that's what I wanted to do," Taylor said.
Taylor was trying to help a driver, 16-year-old Morgan McNeil, the night he was shot, and in turn, opened fire on the driver's 15-year-old passenger, Zane Terryn. 
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Taylor is well-respected in the Brevard County law enforcement community, overseeing investigations for the Florida Highway Patrol. The veteran state trooper was headed home the night of the deadly encounter. That was June 14, 2015.  He stopped at the Pilot gas station on West King Street in Cocoa, about a mile away from his office for fuel and a soft drink. The plan was to leave there and pick up pizza for his teenage son.
"I knew my son was home by himself, so I figured he hadn't eaten so I was getting ready to order pizza," Taylor said.
He spotted a vehicle that appeared to be having mechanical issues, or perhaps he thought, the driver simply didn't know how to operate the headlights. It wouldn't have been unusual because the Brevard County coast is a tourist destination.
"I stop countless people for minor equipment violations and its not always about writing them a $100 ticket. It's for safety reasons," Taylor told investigative reporter Daralene Jones.
Taylor remembers asking the driver for her license. He didn't know at the time she was 16 years old and she was driving without a license. Her 15-year-old passenger remained silent.  
"I didn't search. I didn't see any weapons either. I saw the male subject sitting in the passenger seat. He really wasn't making eye contact with me. [There were] no apparent weapons, no aggressive movements, no indicators that anything was going to go wrong at that point."
'I hear a bang, hear the firearm go off and it feels like somebody hit me with a baseball bat in my shoulder.'
What was unknown to the trooper at the time is that McNeil had stolen a handgun and money from a relative in Palm Bay hours earlier. The two concocted a plan to drive to Ohio, where McNeil's mom lived, to commit suicide. Suddenly, Terryn pulled out that revolver.

WFTV reviewed Florida law enforcement officer involved shootings between the years 2007 - 2017 and found more than 56% involved an offender with a handgun.

"My first reaction is to get to a point where he can't shoot me and that's to dive to the left, where the driver would be in his field of fire. And there's a concrete wall down there as I dive. I hear a bang, hear the firearm go off and it feels like somebody hit me with a baseball bat in my shoulder. At that point I realize I'm shot. I'm upset, I'm worried," Taylor told Jones.
Taylor said he expected the suspect to come after him to make sure he was dead. "I could see him looking back at me. I aimed to the passenger area because I knew he was the one who had the firearm. I fired a total of three shots at him, not all simultaneously."
Watch the raw video from the June 14, 2015, crime scene below:
The driver kept going but later crashed. The passenger, Zayne Terryn, later died.
“I just wanted to hit the passenger because he had a firearm and if he was willing to shoot me and he was looking to try to shoot me more or another officer, I needed to take that threat out," Taylor said.
'She's living with this and what she saw and the pain she saw in me.'
There was a frantic rush to get Taylor to the hospital. Immediately, he thought of his wife. She is a nurse and was on duty the night of the shooting. Word spread so quickly about his injuries, another officer was able to notify her as a helicopter flew him to the hospital for treatment.
"Knowing my wife is at the hospital working there, that made it very difficult. It continues to this day to be very difficult for her. She thinks about these things. She's living with this and what she saw and the pain she saw in me," an emotional Taylor told Jones.
'I couldn't imagine if I was the parent of the gentlemen that I shot...'
The teenager he shot and killed was around the same age as his own son.
"I couldn't imagine if I was the parent of the gentlemen that I shot, losing your son like that, just losing your son like that, just a senseless way to lose your life. The more and more I look through it I can't determine any other way I would've done it or anyone else would've done it," Taylor.

WFTV conducted an analysis of law enforcement officer shootings between 2007 - 2017 and found less than 1% involved teenagers.

He took time off work, and even as he tried to cope with the thought of taking a life, there were many questions surrounding what happened that day. A fellow law enforcement officer remained outside of his home in the days after. For Taylor, it was just where he needed to be, as he tried to make sense of how a routine encounter could turn deadly.
"Our home is our safe place, somewhere we can forget we're an officer, let our guard down a bit. I've been lucky where I've been able to isolate this thing, kind of keep it in a box. It does come out every once in a while, and I think about it, does bother me, keeps me awake at night, sometimes."
That emotional pain is often triggered by the physical pain that comes every now and then. The bullet that hit him that night is still lodged in his right shoulder. He told us doctors are afraid to remove it, out of concern it might cause long-term damage to other parts of his body.
Prosecutors charged the driver of that car, McNeil, as an adult, but a plea deal allowed her to be sentenced as a juvenile. Her defense attorney argued she needed mental health treatment and rehabilitation. In 2016, she was sent to a mental health facility and has since been released.
Taylor was cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting and was later recognized by then Gov. Rick Scott for his bravery that night. 

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