Live: Ambassador to European Union to testify publicly Wednesday

‘We called for help, and they killed my son,’ North Carolina man says

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(CNN) — Seventy seconds. That’s how long a North Carolina family says it took for things to go horribly wrong after they called police for help dealing with their mentally ill son.

Keith Vidal, 18, died Sunday. He was shot 14 minutes after the first police officer arrived at his Brunswick County, North Carolina, home and just 70 seconds after a third officer showed up, according to CNN affiliate WECT.

The three officers were all from different jurisdictions, and family members say that third officer, who came from the nearby city of Southport, turned what had been an improving situation into an unnecessarily aggressive encounter that ended in their son’s death.

“There was no reason to shoot this kid,” the teen’s stepfather, Mark Wilsey, told WECT on Monday. “They killed my son in cold blood. We called for help, and they killed my son.”

While the state Bureau of Investigation is looking into the shooting, the chief prosecutor for the state’s 13th Judicial District, which includes Brunswick County, says it’s way too early to characterize what happened.

“I think that we can certainly understand why this family is upset right now,” the Wilmington Star-News newspaper quoted District Attorney Jon David as saying. “They just lost a child, and certainly my thoughts and prayers are with them. But what they want from this office today is justice, and I intend to give them exactly that.”

CNN first learned of the shooting through an iReport sent by a family friend. The iReport has received more than 50,000 views in 24 hours.

The incident happened Sunday afternoon when the Boiling Spring Lakes, North Carolina, family called police for help with Vidal, who had schizophrenia, CNN affiliate WWAY reported, citing Wilsey.

Vidal, who was carrying a screwdriver, threatened to fight his mother, so they called police to help calm the situation, Wilsey said, according to the station. Two officers arrived and began talking with Vidal.

The situation was calm until a third officer, a detective from the nearby city of Southport, arrived, they said.

“Everything was going good,” Wilsey said, according to WWAY. “Then this fat cop from Southport walks in the room, walks around the corner, says, ‘We don’t have time for this. Tase that kid now. Let’s get him out of here.'”

Wilsey said his son tried to run but was struck with two Taser charges and fell backward. He said the first two officers to respond got on top of Vidal.

Seventy seconds later, WECT reported, citing police records, police radioed that they had had to shoot the teenager in self-defense.

The Southport officer has been placed on paid administrative leave in connection to the shooting, WECT reported, citing police Chief Jerry Dove. Authorities have declined to say whether he was the officer who shot Vidal.

A spokeswoman for the Brunswick County Sheriff’s office said the officer the agency had sent to the scene has not been placed on leave.

Boiling Spring Lakes Police Chief Brad Shirley said the same thing Tuesday of that department’s officer, who was the first to arrive on the scene.

Neither David nor the state Bureau of Investigation returned messages seeking comment Tuesday.

CNN iReporter Anthony Owens, the family friend, said Vidal was a slight young man who was never violent despite his mental illness.

“All he wanted to do was play drums,” Owens said. “He was so awesome.”

Owens said the incident highlights the need for more understanding and awareness of mental illness.

“I was devastated by the news and am desperate to find some kind of good that could come from this horrible situation,” Owens said.

By Michael Pearson. Christina Zdanowicz and David Mattingly

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

44 comments

  • chris pottorff

    there is no excuse for this to have happened !!! I feel so bad for his family , its clear to me that the third police officer killed this helpless soul . I have dealt with mental illness in my life and there were plenty other options . Sickens me to no end and breaks my heart .

    • Adam

      All the facts are not out. All you are hearing is the family’s side (which obviously points fingers). Let’s wait and see.

      Dealing with mental illness, how many times have you seen an indiviual “Snap” and do something unexpected…

      **Devil’s advocate here – Could turn out that the 18 yr old resisted the 2 original cops (reached/grabbed a gun) and the third HAD to shoot

    • Adam

      Self Defense sould turn out to be true. All the facts are not out. All you are hearing is the family’s side (which obviously points fingers). Let’s wait and see.

      **Devil’s advocate here – Could turn out that the 18 yr old resisted the 2 original cops (reached/grabbed a gun) and the third HAD to shoot

      • Kathy Campbell

        kinda sounds like to me you may have a family member in the police force and are sticking up for them. I have a husband with mental illness and I have other family members and they DON’T SNAP LIKE YOU CLAIM THEY DO!! MAYBE YOU NEED TO DO RESEARCH INSTEAD OF POSTING LIES! CAUSE YOUR COMMENTS HAVE INSULTED ME!

      • Adam

        Hey kathy, so do I. My sister is borderline personality w/ manic/obsessive traits… Sorry you were offended but sometimes it happens. People of all sorts can “Snap” as well, just depends on the day

  • Brie Burns

    How often have I heard this statement, “was never violent,” and it turns out to be completely false.
    Never violent but threatened his mother with a screwdriver….hmmm

    Yep, never violent.

    • Adam

      There are bad apples in every bunch, cops, firefighters, teachers, retail, fast food, etc.

      BUT All the facts are not out. All you are hearing is the family’s side (which obviously points fingers). Let’s wait and see.

      **Devil’s advocate here – Could turn out that the 18 yr old resisted the 2 original cops (reached/grabbed a gun) and the third HAD to shoot

  • Heidi A. Harkrider- Thomas

    This should have never happened. Mental illness is a sickness that there is no cure for. That cop killed this poor child in cold blood. My heart goes out to this family. I hope that this will teach the world some understanding and acceptance. I also hope that the cop in question goes to prison so that he can get a taste of his own medicine. I have dealt with metal illness my whole life and so have my family members and friends through work and our own problems there is always a non-violent way to deal with people and until the police figure this out we as a community are screwed.

    • Adam

      All the facts are not out. All you are hearing is the family’s side (which obviously points fingers). Let’s wait and see.

      Dealing with mental illness, how many times have you seen an indiviual “Snap” and do something unexpected. He threatened his mother with a screwdriver, that seems violent. And using a taser was a “non-violent” less lethal choice which was used PRIOR.

      **Devil’s advocate here – Could turn out that the 18 yr old resisted the 2 original cops (reached/grabbed a gun) and the third HAD to shoot

      • Terry Roberts

        You know from preliminaries the law could have made some comments and put some light on the situation, but that’s right they can’t do that to news before they all get together and do some big time cover up work.

  • Diana Reichardt

    The third officer sounds like the main reason this fell apart and I really see no reason that they had to shoot this poor soul. They will investigate and then they will tell us, it was unavoidable. No charges will occur. One of the reasons I will think long or hard before calling the police. I don’t feel I can rely on them to do the right thing. I have my doubts about the various police forces now. I feel intimidated just being around them. Not good. My sympathy goes out to the family. May God bless.

    • Adam

      IF the third cop was “bad” there are many more “good” cops out there. All the facts are not out. All you are hearing is the family’s side (which obviously points fingers). IF the third cop was in the wrong, I’m sure the other 2 won’t want to be associated with him and will tell the truth. Let’s wait and see.

      **Devil’s advocate here – Could turn out that the 18 yr old resisted the 2 original cops (reached/grabbed a gun) and the third HAD to shoot

      • Rowan Badger

        Seriously, man, are you going to post the exact same ‘Devil’s Advocate here’ thing on every single post on this page? Repetition doesn’t increase the truth of a statement, and it’s highly unlikely someone’s gonna read it for the eighth time and say, “OH! Now I see what he meant! Yeah, I sure didn’t think about it the first seven times he said it, but it finally sunk in!” If you don’t think it was

        Yeah, yeah, we’re only getting part of the story, I get your point. But at this point I have to say that cops, in general, have not necessarily earned that benefit of the doubt from me, because I’ve been watching them, for at least the last 25 years, become progressively more aggressive, less likely to resolve situations without force, and more open to drawing and using a weapon.

      • Rowan Badger

        (one of my sentences got cut off. It was, “If you didn’t think it was convincing the first time you said it, why do you think it bears repeating?”)

      • Adam

        Rowan- Obviously you have not been watching them for 25 years. If so you have failed to notice the use of less lethal options. There are also specially trained cops that deal with mental illness-Fox4 did a story on Lee’s Summit PD using them. Not to mention the non stop news/internet/social media. If your statement was true, it would be out more for the Lawsuit happy society that we have…

      • Norma Jean Almodovar

        Officer Adam, the fact is, there are far too many cops out there who are trigger happy and know they will get away with murder. Happens all the time. Perhaps you are one of them. Unless this young man was pointing a gun at one of the officers, there was absolutely no need to shoot the guy. If three cops who outweighed and out numbered the young man were not able to subdue him, then they have no business being cops. They ought to join the mafia, because they are no better than thugs.

      • Adam

        Norma, just think for a moment… IF there were more bad than good, wouldn’t there be more news stories? It would make for a nice “BREAKING NEWS” story. OR how about Investigative reporters doing stories on them more. Cops have bad apples, I will agree, but so does every job profession- politicians, lawyers, teachers, firefighters, military, religions, constuction, retail, office workers and etc. You name it, and I bet you could google it and find it out.

        If I am so ill-informed, as you say, why am I neutral? Why have I not sided one way or another? IF you reread anything I have put on here you will see that I have only asked questions… Seeking the Truth

  • Dave

    I agree with Never violent but threatened his mother with a screwdriver….hmmm so you called thePolice on a Non-violent son….
    Now for the real question – Wilsey said his son tried to run, but was struck with two Taser charges and fell backward. He said the first two officers to respond got on top of Vidal.

    Seventy seconds later, police radioed that they had had to shoot the teenager in self-defense. WHAT HAPPEN IN THE 70 Seconds that your not telling us. We don’t need to wait for the investigation. You were there, tell the entire store, so I have a better understanding of what happen.

  • peggs

    Unless this man was a monster(in size) you would think that after being tased and falling backwards the 3 officers could have taken control of this teenage kid. 3 guns and tasers against a single screwdriver. I don’t care (Adam)what happened in that 70 seconds, no need to shoot to kill, let alone shoot at all!! FTP!!

    • Adam

      Peggs- IF the 18 yr old WAS fighting and attempted to grab one of their guns, then yes there is a need to shoot. IF NOT, then I agree the cop needs to be charged.

      Just like dealing with kids, not all facts come out initally.

      FTI-Ignorant!

      • Norma Jean Almodovar

        Where did you get your badge, officer Adam? A cracker Jax box? And do you live under a rock? Because unless you have been living where you can’t read a newspaper or watch tv, you would know how frequently these types of incidents happen. Cops routinely shoot first and ask questions after. They also rape children, rape young women at traffic stops, rape prostitutes, beat and or kill their spouses, steal drugs and sell them to a ready made list of users, etc.

        And yes, there are good cops out there, but not for much longer when they can’t take it any more that so many ill informed citizens like you (if you aren’t a cop) defend the bad ones and nothing at all happens to the thugs with badges.
        Policeprostitutionandpolitics. Com for a list of really bad cops who belong in prison for life, but instead are still out on the streets with their guns and badges, protecting and serving the excrement out of us.

  • peggs

    Adam, I’m guessing with the way you are defending the police you must be one, or you have family in the police force, just guessing. Why do you keep trying to claim he must have grabbed one of the cops guns??? Like I said before 3 armed men with guns and tasers against a teenager that they knew had mental illness with a screwdriver. NO NEED TO SHOOT TO KILL!

    And if you are a cop I sure do hope you don’t answer my calls for help. Oh and please tell me what FTI means ;)

    • Not PeGGs

      Peggs-Military. And I did not defend EITHER side. I simply said IF.

      I bring up the other side because it is easy to second guess people and things for which you were not there. It is easy to sit back and question why this was done or why that was done or why this WASN’T done. Were you privy to any of it? Has a screwdriver been used as a wepon-YES. Has a person with mental illness killed people-YES. I only bring up the grabbing of the gun, because it is plausible.The father of the 18 yr old didn’t say anything as to what happened after the taser came out and the 2 cops tried to arrest him. Why?

      It’s harder to try and figure out the truth than to believe the half truths being told.I hope the truth (regardless of who is right/wrong) comes out and all involved (family of the 18 yr old, the community and the police departments).

      I hope you have no need for the police (genuinely)

  • Josh

    I am lead to believe that fti and ftp mean the same just exchange police for ignorant. And it is apparent that 90% of the people commenting with the exception of Adam must of been there since they know that this young man was completely innocent and the victim of a gross a use of power by law enforcement.

  • Cheryl

    In every group of people there is the “bad apple”, which is also true of police officers. However, there are many wonderful and dedicated officers that put their life on the line every day for the public’s safety. I am sure there is much more to the story than we are hearing. For example, parents don’t call the police for assistance unless there is a problem…. so apparently they were concerned (scared) enough to want the police there. Maybe along with the mental illness there were drugs involved, which can often change the disposition of a person and how they act or if they are violent. Or perhaps the meds needed had not been taken. Or maybe it was a “rotten apple” policeman. But we don’t know, we were not there!

  • sonya

    i think that being allowed to taze anyone the police have made themselves more ganglike instead of being a helpful officer in a lot of situations police are not your friends they only think that anyone is out to do them harm personally witch is simply not the case. they have become rude to every civilian they come in counter with they dont really want to here what may have happened in situations i think that they need to really be looked at by the people and put in there places just my opinion.

  • Stephanie

    This is outrageous! The third cop that came in shouldnt have even been there! As they said, things were getting better until he showed up, then the third cop makes the inexcusable comment of “we dont have time for this.” That proves right there, that there are people out in this world that dont care about other people or their disabilities that are put into the lives of civilians to protect! ..Not to just do what they can so they wont have to deal with “it.” If he really cared enough, he would have calmly talked to the boy or just stayed home! Better yet, he should be fired bc this is someones life and someone elses loved one that an unhumanly life took away with no passion for this precious boys life! Disgusted…..rant over!

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.