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

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BOILING SPRING LAKES, N.C. -- 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 (Photo credit: Wilsey family via CNN)

Keith Vidal (Photo credit: Wilsey family via CNN)

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.

family"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.

2The 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 Vidal 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.

WECT attributed a slightly different accounting of events to Wilsey. In that retelling, Wilsey said officers had pinned Vidal to the ground after he had been tased and one of the officers said, "We don't have time for this" and shot his stepson.

The family has not spoken to CNN about the incident.

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

1The Southport officer has been placed on paid administrative leave in connection to the shooting, Police Chief Jerry Dove said Tuesday. 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.

3CNN 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.

63 comments

  • Suzi

    So the parents call the police because their mentally ill son is running around weilding a screwdriver & threatening to fight his mother….skip to fourth from the last line : “CNN iReporter Anthony Owens, the family friend, said Vidal was a slight young man who was never violent despite his mental illness.”…Which one was it?

    • Bo

      Its called schizophrenia, A MENTAL disorder!!! Generally controlled with medication. However, these people CAN and DO have breaks with reality, as “we” know reality. He may never have been violent in his life. He may not have been “violent” in his mind in this case. But, with mentally ill or mentally handicapped individuals, aggressive behavior can escalate very quickly. Their perception of what they see and hear, usually on TV, is very different that of a “normal” person.

      Study up on subjects before you comment… Or, get your head outta the sand!!!

      My stepson is also mentally AND physically handicapped, yet high functioning and very well spoken. He has been diagnosed as having symptoms of everything from ADHD to schizophrenia. He’s 26, 5′ 10″ tall, and 240#. My wife is 5’3″, 120#. When he gets angry, she can’t handle him physically. Most times, having the authorities come out, DOES in fact diffuse the situation and gives him a sense of having a mediator… MOST TIMES! Having come from a physically and psychologically abusive household, they are both familiar with how the authorities usually handle these situations. He will actually call 911 on himself, when he feels like he’s losing control. Between the police and the medical staff at the psychiatric facility, he has been well versed on what to say to the officers, when he “wants” to go to the facility and watch TV for a week or so.

      You might consider learning about your subject, by speaking with people who live it, before showing your ignorance.

      Nonetheless, it seems as though, the situation WAS at least managed, if not diffused, until this Southport detective showed up. Another case of a law enforcement officer with a big ego, on a power trip, not qualified for the situation, and operating with the “above the law” attitude.

    • jeanette

      I am always amazed that people don’t realize that you can seriously hurt someone with a pencil if that’s your intention. They call them lung busters in prison. My grandma taught me that if a person has meanness in his or her heart they will be mean.

  • Nancy Chymicheal

    If he was double tazed why shoot him? This sounds rather odd. I’m betting BOTH sides are a little fuzzy about every detail but I have to wonder why shoot him if three officers and two tasers could not subdue him, I think he was like a 140lbs or so I heard.

    • Mizzy

      I totally agree. 2 statements were that an officer said “we don’t have time for this”. Yes you do… that’s your job.

      • Joe

        Love the Monday morning quarterbacking. They called the police to save their lives and when they do they complain. Apparently the taser was not effective. It’s tragic!

      • Hayley Michael Elder

        Yes, yes, yes!!!!!! You are absolutely correct! REGARDLESS of the situation, it IS their duty to first try to bring calm and diffuse the situation. This third officer (detective) just didn’t want to be bothered – probably wishing he were somewhere else. Whst I would like to know is, just WHO (out of the three officers) was in charge of that situation?
        And again I agree……….if the young man had ALREADY been tased AND had three grown men on top of him, WHY was he shot???????

  • Joshua

    So according to the “father”, the mother was scared basically for her life by her son with a screw driver but yet the “father” couldn’t control him nor did he sound concerned. He sounded like he was by himself in a padded room scared for his life instead of being on the phone and helping the mother in the situation. My kids know better to even raise there voice at there mother. I understand the boy may have some type of illness but the situation could and should have been prevented from even calling the law to begin with.

    • Joust

      I noticed that too. They said he was harmless, but they needed to call police. Police aren’t doctors or psychiatrists. The father says “He’s not doing too good, he needs to go somewhere.” Where, exactly?

      He was waving a screwdriver around, so I guess the family figured they would rather get a cop stabbed than one of them.

      If there was wrong doing than the officer should be punished, but this is far too common. People call the police to solve their problems instead of dealing with it themselves.

      • ibieiniid

        people call the police to put a scare into their kids all the time. maybe doing it with a schizo isn’t the correct approach, but it’s nothing new.

    • Christie

      The boy had schizophrenia! A very serious disorder!! This situation should of been all about those supposedly well trained cops subduing this kid and taking him to the nearest mental health hospital.

      • ussenterp65

        You dont walk away from a mental case. If this kid wasnt a threat then how come the parents couldnt handle him and had to call the police to do it for them. Dont blame the cops for taking care of the problem that you wouldnt address yourself.

  • Ecarter Carter

    Well Suzi, you must live in backwoods and know nothing about mental issues, you find ways to veer the situation and calm things down, Lets see how you react when you have 2 tasers shoot at you and three people sitting on you.

    • dg (@dynamicabs)

      when you call the police you are calling for armed assistance, why expect them to deal differently with a mental episode, pyshcriatic ward attendants have different training and skill set

      • toahcia

        That’s where you are wrong. Police are trained in more than just shooting. They are trained to use a set of skills first! They take classes teach them to save the people not kill them right away. I also agree that the step dad should of been more involved.

  • Dawn Little

    I feel for the parents. I have had my own dealing with NC Sheriff’s when dealing with an out of control child. I un like them did not lose my child’s life, besides he now thinks he is untouchable by the law and this will end up the same outcome. But I have had to deal with the BS Deputy reaction to the situation. I am sorry for the parents for their senseless loss. If you can hold who ever responsible do not turn a blind eye to wrong doing by law enforcement if indeed that is what happen!

  • PeteandCarrie Hutchens

    You call the police reporting a armed, mentally Ill person who you are afraid of and then get upset when this happens ? What did you think would happen , he was tazed twice and that evidently did not stop him so those officers who you called out there had to respond !

    • Jen Long

      They called the paramedics too, as they had done before. They’ve tried to get help for his mental illness, but there is a serious lack of resources in this area. The first two officers had the situation under control. They radioed in that the kid had been shot 70 seconds after the third one arrived on the scene. This guy weighed 100 pounds. He had been tazed twice while trying to run away from the officers into the bathroom and was being held on the ground by 2 police officers when he was killed. The police in our area are known to get away with this stuff all the time, Look up how many people they shot in the last quarter of 2013. I think you’ll be surprised. Now look up how many were prosecuted. None. They all still have their jobs. They go on paid leave until the smoke clears and everything goes back to the way it was. Too many witnesses this time I hope.

  • Jen Long

    He weighed 100 pounds soaking wet. The shank on the screw driver was less than 3 inches long. I live close and we’ve had a rash of “officer involved” shootings here lately and none of them ever get more than a slap on the wrist. It was only a matter of time before something like this happened. These guys need some kind of sensitivity training, especially the ones that are ex-military. I love our military boys, but they do come back hardened from war. They have called 911 before. The police help subdue him so the medic can do their job. 3 cops and a 100 pound kid with a little screw driver… you seriously think that cop was scared for his life?

  • Jason

    If you don’t want police involved in your affairs then DONT CALL THEM. It is not the cops fault that the kid was crazy or was brandishing a weapon (screwdriver). So a crazy kid with a weapon is killed by the police, I don’t see the tragedy here. I sure hope the family don’t get a payday from this incident because it seems that is what they are going for.

    • Christie

      Im absolutely sure you would see this as a tragedy if this was your child…and don’t say you would do this or that because who knows what you would do if you had a teen with schizophrenia. Dude did not have a gun he had a screwdriver. He was a tiny young man and you mean to tell me 3 trained MEN could not subdue him?

    • RHS

      Jason, you scare the hell out of me, I hope you don’t own any guns but I feel certain you do. I hope if you ever need help from police they just kill you instead. Why should they waste their time actually trying to help a person? You are clearly crazy yourself.

      • Jason

        This comment is directed to RHS. I do indeed hope I scare the hell out of you, and yes I am a gun owner and proud to be a responsible one. You call me crazy for my beliefs but I feel certain that I have far more education and merits to my resume than you RHS. I hold a masters degree and an am a young parent. I am fed up with society’s BS and that includes you RHS. You’re likely a spineless pig and if ever you need police assistance, I hope they do the world a favor and take you out JFK style. Peace

      • Thedork

        A master’s degree jason? oh yeah?? your comment made you sound like a complete high school drop-out with your “college educated mouth.” Just sayin of course

      • Ann

        RHS…Jason has some serious problems of his own it look like so just ignore him. He is probably one of those cops from Southport…it sounds like the other officers had it under control until the overweight cop showed up. He must have been in a hurry to go eat I guess. What does he think he job is? He is a cop…what does he not have time for? He killed this young man and there are plenty of other mental ill people in this country…is he going to shoot them all! I am sorry but this officer was in the wrong. Jason…you show no compassion at all…you may be faced with a mentally ill family member so show some compassion. The family can’t just drop their son off at the hospital if they think there is a problem…this country has no where to take mentally ill patients who don’t want to go…what is a family suppose to do? Who cares how many degrees you have…you have no empathy for others…that could be a mental illness in itself and I am serious! GROW UP!!!

    • Bo

      Jason you chastise RHS in THAT manner and then sign off with “Peace”? Have you had a mental eval lately, Mr Masters degree? Geez. I wouldn’t have wished a mentally ill child on anyone, before now. But, you might consider that law enforcement SHOULD first diffuse the situation, exhaust all options, then use deadly force as a LAST resort. This guy seemed pissed off that he was dispatched to the scene (probably from Krispy Kreme) from his arrival and then very smug when he reported the shots fired.

      Are you or planning on being a politician? You seem to like “grandstanding” on subjects you don’t know anything about.

    • JK

      Jason,
      I have a degree in Criminal Justice and I know that they are not trained enough on how to deal with situations like that. That being said I have serious doubts about your intelligence. What happened to caring and compassion in this country. I will tell you self centered people like yourself. But you need to remember something sir But for the grace of God go I. Meaning that one day you are going to find yourself dealing with something like this in your family perhaps or maybe even being your child. I pray that you can have a heart and some compassion for that person or one day you will get old I hope you don’t end up with a mental defect that this situation happens to you. Think before you speak. You sir will be in my prayers may someone show you the mercy, caring , and compassion that you seem to be showing others.

  • BB

    I don’t understand the people saying the cops shouldn’t have been called if the family didn’t want someone to be shot. A cop’s job is never to shoot someone. The cops were called there to do their real jobs: to protect and serve this family of citizens. They weren’t called there to arrest the son. They weren’t called there to “save” the family. They were called there to keep EVERYONE safe, and to assist the family in getting medical support for their son.

  • Rebecca Shepard

    I have a nephew this same age with the same problem and let me tell you, he can be violent. He can go from sweet to very very dark.

    At times his meds quit working and when they are being adjusted, his parents live through hell. He has attacked folks (even family) with NO warning!

    Right now, his parents can control him, but they know one day they may not be able to.

    I hope this never happens to my nephew, but it could.

    If this was something simple to control, his parents should not have called 911, they could have handled it. Or called his doctor and got him to the ER where they would commit him in the psych ward for his and others protection.

    I know we will learn more as time goes on, but from my experience with my nephew, right now, I am faulting his parents for poor parenting skills with a mentally ill teen. And too much rush for judgement in blaming the cops.

  • Jennifer

    1 in every 5 Americans have a mental illness and the majority of those don’t even know it! For those who say “it’s time we deal with the mentally ill”, just remember….this could be your child, your brother, your sister!! Mental illness is too often grossly misunderstood and it sickens me to know the lack of compassion so many people have for those who suffer from it. May god comfort this family during this time of loss.

    • Chucky1992

      Finally someone with some common sense. There are a lot of comments on here about who should be blamed, who was at fault. The truth is this was a very unfortunate incident which deserves a proper investigation much like the Trayvon Martin situation. Everyone rushed to judgment about it before the investigation was complete. Once the investigation is done… if the officers did anything that was unjustifiable, then they should face punishment. There are a lot of comments from people who obviously know very little about mental illness or law enforcement. Until you have walked in those shoes, you really cannot understand what the parents’ or the police officers’ mind set would have been.

  • Dorinda Stewart

    Reading some of these posts makes me angry at the ignorance people have towards mental illnesses. Everyone has an opinion , however no one should make comments about anything you don’t educate yourself about . Judging parents that only needed assistance in getting their sick child help is cruel . There is a serious lack of support for families of persons with mental illnesses. Police and Ems should have designated personnel to handle these calls so we are not seeing stories like this.

  • Tdk2526

    You have to call the police to have someone involuntarily committed. Some law maker made the decision to allow police to have that authority, they should be better trained for it. Not to mention going to Brunswick county is like stepping back in time. The police have more power than they should and many are as law abiding as the people in prisons.

    • Chucky1992

      I have news for you… it took more that one “law maker” to write and pass that law and the law does not give the officer the authority to issue an involuntary commitment. It has to be issued by a judicial official. An officer can take a person into custody and take them to the emergency room for an evalutation but only if it is an life threatening emergency such as attempted suicide etc.

    • Thedork

      Excuse your rude comments TDK! Brunswick County is like stepping back in time, really fool? If you live there get the F–k out! If you do not live there we do not want you here. so keep your rude comments to yourself

  • misty

    Wow. I thought we lived in 2014 when everybody was granted the same rights no matter your age, race, or mental capacity. Unfortunately there is a severe lack of education on “mental health” in our country, and this is the kind of situation it leads to, when people make rash decisions and comments without fully understanding all the ends and outs of whats going on. It makes me sad that even in the “modern” society we live in someone can be killed simply because a police officer was untrained on the correct way to deesculate the situation. Furthermore those of you who say that they are draining our society of funds, and other insane accusations maybe you should volunteer at a shelter or maybe at a hospital so that you can truely get to know somone with a mental disorder and find out how much they can enrich your life before you start judging them.

  • Nathan

    I am living with bipolar disorder and affect my daily activities. After reading that story that scared me, making me fear of law. Where’s my trust to he law?

    • Jennifer

      Nathan, I completely understand why you would feel this way after reading this article. I just want you to remember that there are people out there who you can trust and who care about individuals like yourself who have to suffer with a mental health diagnosis. Take care Nathan!

  • Derr

    It’s nice everyone here is so understanding about mental illness, but where does it end? Does everyone here sincerely believe that if everyone would understand mental illness better it would change situations like this? A threat is a threat is a threat. Sick is sick. I am sure I don’t know much about mental illness – I don’t have time nor interest to learn about it. Does that make me a terrible ignorant ‘ole cuss? NO! It is NOT a requirement for me to become educated on any particular subject, including mental illness.

    • JK

      Hey Derr,

      It will when if effects you and your family. Ignorant people with comments like that are why people like me fight for the rights and the education of others for those with Mental Disabilities. But for the grace of God go I. Wake up its not like these people are from foreign countries. They are people like you and me. Think about it. This could be you and don’t say it can’t because I have seen this first hand. I have seen someone normal have a seizure that can happen to anyone. It does brain damage and they are forever changed so before you open your ignorant mouth think.

  • Joseph Fleeman

    I’d like to hear both sides of this.If the cops had to be called then SOMETHING was going on and something was wrong.They said he was threatening his mother with a screw driver for crying out loud.I wouldn’t be trashing the cops on this right off the bat.

  • Kaye Brundage

    Wow, most of the comments on here are aggressive against one side or the other. No middle ground. Look at the facts we know. The step father gave two different accounts of the “incident” in two different statements. All is not as it seems. He himself could not deal with a mentally ill person he is around all the time. But we expect all officers to. They are not trained psychiatrists. The first two seemed to have it handled though. Family friend said, “Never violent,” but wielding a screw driver at his mother in a threatening manner seems violent. Ummmm…? First two police officers are not suspended, but the third one is. Seems to me, they know who did the shooting, who was in the wrong, and are handling the situation. Let them do it. All police officers are not to blame for the few overly aggressive, overly egotistical, chicken shite pos officers that may be out there. Another note: quit assuming these types of officers are ex-military. Most of the time they never served.

    • Chucky1992

      I agree with you an all counts. A good number of these comments are down right nasty. Most people seem to be jumping to conclusions and insulting others over a situation that they neither understand nor know the facts of. I noticed that the reports said one officer was suspended which is standard procedure in an officer involved shooting. I believe that you are probably correct about who did the shooting. Time will likely reveal if the shooting was justified no matter what those who are commenting in the story say. If the officer was in fear of his or another person’s life, his shooting the young man may have been justified. Unfortunate, but justified.

  • Really?

    Super wrong Tdk2526. A non-law enforcement person can obtain an involuntary commitment order in North Carolina. You go to the Magistrate’s office, fill out a form, swear to it…..done.

    • Chucky1992

      There is some truth to that.. but that is the short explanation of the process. The Magistrate still has to call law enforcement to have that paper served. Tdk2526 is not as wrong as you seem to think.

      • Really?

        They are still wrong. Law enforcement only picks up the people who won’t go themselves or can’t be taken by their family members. If the person is already at a hospital/facility law enforcement is usually not involved. If the person is acting out, they are most definitely involved. Unless you’ve taken one out or served one…..hush.

  • Lajean Faircloth

    Most of the comments here are distgusting, oneccomment-disturbing (jason). We all hav opinions but the comments made saying he deserved this is wrong in so many ways. He was a sick young boy, yes boy-barely into adulthood. He wasn’t a thug, hoodlum or even a punk. He was Sick & had no control over his moods, nobody is asking one of you to understand or educate urselves on mental illness, I myself have no knowledge or ever been astound anything like it, but where is the empathy or compassion for a young person who lost his life in such a tragic way & for the patents who have lost a son. Any one of us could need to call the police at any time, say you were in a car accident & in pain so great, you were not itself or in control of your actions & yelling in agony. Does a police officer have the rite to shoot you readjust because your not being rational. This story is sad & the shooting was unjustified when you have 3 adult police officers with tasers against a slight young boy with a screw driver, he was taken down with tasers & certainly the 3 officers could of handcuffed him, even punched in the head to knock him unconcious would have been better than shooting him dead. But again, no matter wat any of our opinions are, we should all be showing compassion & caring towards this family & show some respect with the way we write our words. Someday one of you could be phoning the police to help calm your aging senile father or grandfather who you can’t calm down & do any of you think that your relative would deserve to be taken down, tasered then shot just because you called for help. These parents could have never thought their sons life would end when they reached out to 911; the way we all have been taught when we run into trouble. The fat cop as you all call him doesn’t deserve to wear a badge & this is where all of your nasty comments should be directed not at a ill individual nor at the parents who have lost a child in this tragic story.

  • Lajean Faircloth

    Me again. Sorry for the mispellings, new phone keyboard..seriously though Jason who left the uncaring comment, who had to throw in his degree etc, you are extremely disturbing. A lot of follow comments after yours are telling you that I’m not the only one who thinks this. I’m offended at your words: a crazy person was killed-so what..that was unnessessarily cruel & it may have no effect on your self absorbed world but that boys family should not have to see words like that written about someone they lost. You are not right in the head & should seek professional help, you sound “crazy” urself. Next time you post your thoughts, please show some empathy & respect before leaving cruel words as you did here. Boast all you want about the schooling & degrees you have but know, those types of comments show the world you have absolutely no class..

  • JK

    This is why police officers need more training in dealing with mentally disabled people. You can’t diffuse a situation if you don’t know what you are doing.

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