Keith Vidal suffered from a mental illness, reportedly schizophrenia. But when his family asked police to help them control their diminutive 18-year-old son, the cops killed him instead.
The officer who killed Keith Vidal shot the boy just over one minute after arriving on the scene. But officers from the town police department had been there about a quarter-hour and reported no problems, according to accounts reported on local WECT TV News.
Cops had the 5’3″, 100-pound boy down after tasering him multiple times at about 12:34 Sunday afternoon at the family’s Boiling Spring Lakes, North Carolina, home.
As the troubled boy was lying stricken on the floor of a bathroom in his family’s President Drive home, one of the officers said, “we don’t have time for this.”
The officer then drew his firearm and shot Keith Vidal. According to one CNN Online account, the officer was preparing to fire a second shot when the boy’s stepfather, Mark Wilsey, grabbed him and prevented Vidal from being shot again.
But it was too late. Keith Vidal was pronounced dead after being transported to a nearby hospital.
Records show that the Southport police did not show up until 12:48:41 pm, when the first responding officer, from the Boiling Spring Lakes department, had already been there for 14 minutes. The town police officers told police dispatchers repeatedly that they had confronted the teen inside the house but that the situation was fine.
But when Southport officers arrived, a mere 70 seconds elapsed before an officer radioed in to say that he shot Keith Vidal.
Wilsey told NBC News that he asked the officer why he had fired the shot, and the policeman replied, “‘Well, I’m protecting my officers.’”
“He reached right up, shot this kid point-blank, with all intent to kill,” the badly shaken Wilsey continued. “He just murdered him flat out.”
The family called police because Keith Vidal was holding a screwdriver and threatening his mother with the household tool.
Southport Police Chief Jerry Dove announced that a detective, Byron Vassey, has been placed on administrative leave resulting from his involvement in the incident. But Dove would not say if Vassey was the officer who shot and killed the 18-year-old boy.
Boiling Spring Lakes Police Chief Brad Shirley said the responding officer from his department was Officer John Thomas, but that neither Thomas nor anyone from the Boiling Spring Lakes police has been placed on leave.
Brunswick County District Attorney Jon David said that the North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation will conduct an inquiry into the killing of Keith Vidal. David promised that he will “go wherever the truth leads in this case.”
Neighbors told NBC that Keith Vidal, despite his psychiatric ailments, was friendly and harmless, often playing with neighborhood kids.