DAVIDSON – At the town’s request, the N.C. Department of Transportation has put a temporary hold on plans to name the bridge at the Davidson exit off Interstate 77 in honor of a police officer killed in the line of duty 22 years ago.
Davidson Police Chief Penny Dunn said she contacted NCDOT officials last week and asked that planning for official ceremonies to name the Griffith Street bridge at Exit 30 to honor Mark Swaney be suspended. Dunn, who has advocated for the memorial tribute to Swaney for nearly two years, said she sought the delay in order to evaluate additional community input and consider other possible options for honoring the officer.
“Many people have expressed support for the bridge to be named in Mark’s honor,” Dunn said, “but some have not, and others didn’t necessarily want the recognition to just be a sign along the highway. I want some time to determine the best approach and make sure we handle this the right way.”
Swaney, a Mooresville native, was six years into a law enforcement career and in his second year with the Davidson Police Department when was shot and killed during an incident on Christmas Day 1997.
Official records indicate Swaney and fellow officer Charles McLean were involved in an altercation with 18-year-old Damon Kerns. During the fight, Swaney attempted to use pepper spray on Kerns, but Kerns pulled a 32-caliber gun and fired.
Swaney, 26, was hit twice in the body. McLean was shot in the neck. Both officers returned fire. One of McLean’s shots hit Kerns, killing him instantly. Swaney was transported to Carolinas Medical Center, but died within an hour. McLean was treated at CMC and discharged a few days later.
Earlier this year, following an unsuccessful 2017 application, Dunn, with town board support, submitted a new naming application. On July 1, NCDOT officials announced the naming request had been approved and began the process of scheduling ceremonies.
Dunn said she has not set an exact timetable for the next step, but emphasized she asked for the delay in order to consider all the options and information available.