Keith Vidal was shot and killed by police officers responding to a call his stepfather placed to 911 emergency dispatchers on January 5, 2014. According to his mother, Mary Wilsey, Keith was not acting violently despite the fact that in the call, his stepfather claimed he was brandishing a screwdriver and wanted to “fight his mom.”
In 2013, Vidal was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, a schizoaffective disorder is not easily defined.
“Schizoaffective disorder is a mix of mental health conditions ― including schizophrenic and mood disorder features ― that may run a unique course in each affected person.”
In February 2014, Detective Bryon Vassey was indicted by a grand jury on the charge of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting and death of Keith Vidal. According to Vassey’s lawyers, he was defending the life of another officer. There has been no trial date set at this time.
In the last year, questions have been raised all across the United States about the use of deadly force when police officers respond to a call. Situations in the St. Louis and Baltimore areas have seen rioting after incidents of police shootings. Not all of these incidents involve people who are considered to be mentally ill. However, a Washington Post study showed a larger number than you might think.
The Washington Post analyzed the 462 shooting deaths that have occurred in the U.S. in the first six months of this year. About one-fourth, 124, involved people “in the throes of mental or emotional crisis.”
“The vast majority were armed, but in most cases, the police officers who shot them were not responding to reports of a crime. More often, the police officers were called by relatives, neighbors or other bystanders worried that a mentally fragile person was behaving erratically, reports show. More than 50 people were explicitly suicidal.”
Armed with this knowledge, Mary Wilsey, Keith Vidal’s mom is proposing what she calls Keith’s Law. Speaking with WDBJ 7, She feels that with proper police training, the situation that her son found himself in could have resulted in a different set of consequences.
“I feel in my heart my son would be alive.”
What do you think of the shooting of Keith Vidal? What is an officer’s responsibility in an incident where someone calls and reports that someone has a weapon and threatening people? Many times, officers have to make a split-second decision that can result death. Does training, like that mentioned in the Washington Post article, prevent death?
[Photo by Liberty First News]