Va. sheriffs express concern after Creigh Deeds’ ‘60 Minutes’ interview

Posted at 10:21 PM, Jan 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-27 16:17:19-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR/CNN) -- Creigh Deeds remembers turning his back just before his son attacked him, stabbing the Virginia state senator multiple times.

Deeds had gone out to the barn to feed the horses. His son, Austin "Gus" Deeds, came across the yard.

"I said, 'Hey bud, how'd you sleep?' He said, 'fine.' I turned my back ... and he was just on me," Deeds told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview that aired Sunday night.

"I said, 'Gus, I love you so much.' I said, 'Don't make this any worse than it is.' He just kept coming at me."

Less than 24 hours before the November 19 stabbing, Deeds' son had undergone an evaluation by mental health professionals while he was under an emergency custody order.

Officials reportedly had to release Gus, 24, because no psychiatric bed was available and an individual could only be held under emergency custody for up to six hours.

"The system failed my son," Deeds said he told a representative of the county agency that manages mental health care.

"I was concerned that if he came home there was going to be a crisis," Deeds told "60 Minutes."

That night, Deeds and his son sat at opposite ends of a dining room table at the residence in Millboro. Deeds ate while Gus wrote furiously in his journal.

"I felt like there'd be a confrontation but I didn't, I had no reason to think there'd be violence," Deeds said.

The next morning, Gus stabbed his father in the chest and head. He then turned a gun on himself and died.

Deeds still bears scars on his face. In spite of the attack, he told "60 Minutes" that Gus was a "great kid . ... perfect son."

He said he hopes that his son is not defined by his illness and that his life will have a positive impact.

The Democratic lawmaker has introduced legislation that targets mental health services in the commonwealth.

His agenda for the 2014 session includes proposals that would create a psychiatric bed registry and expand the time limit for emergency custody orders to 24 hours.

"I want people to remember the brilliant, friendly, loving kid that was Gus Deeds," his father said.

"We'll use Gus, I hope, to address mental health and to make sure that other people don't have to suffer through this."

But Virginia Sheriffs are raising concern about one particular change suggested by Deeds.

"Other states have 24 hours but other states have psychiatric beds," John Jones, Executive Director of the Virginia Sheriffs Association said.

"In Virginia, we don't have beds so the deputy sheriffs sit with these patients," Jones added.

Jones told CBS 6 that if Deeds legislation passes for 24 hour detention it would be a huge burden on law enforcement - impacting public safety.

"We have to compromise," Jones added.

Jones said Virginia Sheriffs would favor a proposal to lengthen the detention time to 8 hours.

Deeds bill has cleared one committee so far this General Assembly session.

Click here to watch the complete interview with Creigh Deeds.