The central fact concerning the death of Keith Vidal, 18, does not seem to be in dispute: after the schizophrenic youngster was tased and restrained by two officers, a third stepped up, said “we don’t have time for this”, fired into the scrum, then tried to do so again before being restrained. Vidal, who celebrated his birthday last month, was killed by the gunshot.
The family were not invited to a press conference held today by Brunswick County District Attorney Jon David, but turned up anyway, reports WECT. David said that three officers involved in the incident were the subject of an investigation, and that he could not release their names.
Mark Wilsey, identified as Vidal’s father, told reporters that his family had called the police to help get his son to a mental evaluation during a ‘schizophrenic incident’ in which Vidal had picked up a small screwdriver.
Two officers were able to calm Vidal, reported Star News Online. A third arrived and entered the family’s home, and the teen was tased and restrained on that officer’s instructions, then shot in the chest.
Anthony Owens, a family friend, wrote at CNN’s iReport that Vidal was in a “more rational” state by the time the third officer arrived and told the others to stop negotiating. At this, he said, Vidal tried to flee into a bathroom before being tased and held down.
Owens then describes the killing: “As Vidal’s father tried to step in and grab the screwdriver, the Southport Police Officer that had instructed the other officers to use their tasers moved between the father and the pile of people on the floor and said ‘We don’t have time for this’ and shot Vidal once in the chest as the other two officers held him on the floor. Vidal’s father then grabbed the officer as he was lining himself up for another shot.”
Owens insists that Vidal did not threaten anyone and has no history of violence: “[The officer] could have just as easily killed one of his own. If it weren’t for Keith’s father grabbing the officer, he would have shot him again. Keith was … about 5’3 to 5’5 and 90 to 100lbs. Keith was small for his age.”
“There was no reason to shoot this kid,” Wilsey said. “They killed my son in cold blood. We called for help and they killed my son.”
Wilsey claims that the screwdriver was an electronics tool and didn’t present a serious threat; the district attorney, David, said that he’s confident that “everyone involved with find the truth” as the investigation unfolds.