On January 5th, 2014, Byron Vassey shot and killed Keith Vidal in his home, while two other officers were restraining him, and after he had already been tased.
Keith was 18 years old. He weighed only 90 pounds and suffered from schizophrenia. On the night Vassey murdered him, officers were responding to a 911 call made by Keith’s mother, Mary, and stepfather, Mark.
Keith’s parents were concerned because their son had been holding onto a screwdriver that evening while sweeping the floor, and he didn’t want to let it go. He was not violent, the family stressed. They were only afraid he might harm himself.
“Never, not once, have they said he had an agressive, violent (diposition) toward anybody,” said his stepbrother Mark Wilsey, Jr. during a press conference.
His stepsister agreed: “The cops come and talk to him. That’s all you have to do is talk to Keith, that’s the type of person he is, and calm him down and usually that will solve the problem.”
The family said that their son had been mentally ill for about a year. They were complimentary of the way they were treated by Boiling Springs police officers in the past, before Byron Vassey from Southport strode out of his jurisdiction and into their home.
According to police records reported on in the Star News, 70 seconds after Byron Vassey arrived on scene, an EMS unit advised shots had been fired. According to Keith’s stepfather, Mark, within ten seconds of entering his house Byron Vassey said, “I don’t have time for this. Tase him and let’s get him out of here.”
Realizing they were about to shoot 50,000 volts of electricity into his chest, Keith tried to flee into a bathroom. The officers tased him and he fell backwards. Immediately, Byron Vassey shot him, with two other officers restraining the teenager, in a three foot wide hallway in his home.
“He reached right up, shot this kid point-blank, with all intent to kill,” Mark Wilsey said. “Keith was not threatening anybody. …He was flat out murdered. There was no need for deadly force. No reason.”
After firing one round into Keith’s chest, Byron Vassey was about to release a second shot, but Mark Wilsey grabbed and stopped him. When Mark asked him why he’d just shot his son, Byron lied, “I was protecting my officers.” But to shoot Keith, Byron Vassey had to shoot into a pile of people which included two fellow officers and Mark Wilsey.
“There were two cops on top of him,” Mark Wilsey said. “Two cops and me with a 90-pound kid, and then he shot from behind me. He could have hit the officer.” Wilsey added that after the shot was fired, Officer Thomas stood up and checked his own torso, thinking he was wounded. Deputy Samantha Lewis later visited a hospital to be treated for damage to her ear.
“We want justice for my son’s death,” Keith’s mother said during the family’s press conference. “This officer who shot my son needs to be behind bars. He needs to die the way my son died.”
Status as of this Posting
Byron Vassey has been placed on paid administrative leave. Already, police unions are defending his action and an internal police review found Byron Vassey “broke no law” when he shot Keith Vidal. Considering our long history of police officers murdering mentally ill Americans without consequence, it is unlikely Byron Vassey will ever see the inside of a cell.
Byron Vassey lives with his wife Victoria and their daughter Stefani at 109 N Shore Drive, Southport NC 28461-9565. Their telephone number is listed as 910-845-2211.
Photos pulled from those accounts have been copied below.
“Answers Slow to Come in Teen’s Shooting Death — Star News Online” http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20140106/ARTICLES/140109834/1177?p=all&tc=ar#gsc.tab=0
“Police Group: Detective Who Fatally Shot Mentally Ill Teen Acted Justly — CNN” http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/08/justice/north-carolina-teen-killed/index.html?hpt=hp_t2
Wilsey Family Press Converence http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpKdTpP2srM
“Think Twice Before Asking Police to Deal with the Mentally Ill — The Atlantic” http://www.theatlanticcities.com/politics/2014/01/why-we-should-think-twice-asking-police-deal-mentally-ill/8053/