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Bryan Preston


January 7, 2014 - 1:15 pm

The details seem to go like this. 18-year-old Keith Vidal of Brunswick County, NC, who was 5’3″ and weighed all of 90 pounds, had schizophrenia and history of having episodes that required his parents to call police to help them restrain him enough to get him to the doctor to get his medication adjusted. He was having a “bad day” in the words of his mother on Sunday, and they called police. Two local officers showed up and tried dealing Vidal, who was holding a “tiny screwdriver,” which from the sounds of it was one of those little screwdrivers that you use to work on a computer or pop the battery door on a toy. Not a menacing weapon unless your opponent has serious fighting skills, and there’s no indication that Vidal had those. Neighbors say he played with the local kids and was never violent with them.

A third officer shows up, from another nearby jurisdiction, and after the first two officers have calmed Vidal down and restrained him, steps up and shoots the teen dead right in front of his parents. One of the officers, presumably the one from the neighboring jurisdiction who fired the shot, said “We don’t have time for this” before shooting. That’s the gist of the three accounts that Bob Owens has linked here.

The parents now wonder why the police killed their son. Police held a press conference about the incident, but did not invite the parents to watch on or participate.

Allahpundit has linked a video version of the story here, which includes an interesting detail: Brunswick County District Attorney Jon David was on the scene when the shooting occurred. That’s in the video story from WECT-TV, at about the 1:35 mark.

How often does that happen? I’d venture that it’s very rare for the district attorney to be present at a police shooting. DAs typically take the evidence police gather up and determine whether a trial is warranted or not. They’re not out on calls for families whose mentally ill boys who have a history of needing restraint. I don’t know what it means or that it means anything, it just seems highly unusual.

To date, only one officer is on any kind of leaving pending investigations, which are ongoing locally and now include the state’s version of the FBI, the State Bureau of Investigation.

The whole thing is bizarre. If the police officer thought that he didn’t have time to deal with restraining a kid, killing him and sparking a career-threatening investigation that could well end with the officer relocating to prison surely wasn’t a time-saver. Fox reports that the officer who fired claimed he was firing in self-defense, but the facts as reported don’t really support that. There were three armed officers squaring off against one 90-pound kid with a little screwdriver. Police had dealt with this kid before. How could any of the officers possibly have feared for their lives unless the kid had taken one of the officers’ firearms — which so far, none of the officers even say happened. Allahpundit speculates about that, but it’s just speculation — it’s not in any of the news reports. Why did the third officer, from nearby Southport, even come onto the scene, much less discharge his weapon? Most police officers go their entire careers without ever firing a single shot in anger.

What I’m asking is, why were two law enforcement agencies even involved? This was a domestic situation that was evidently familiar to the first officers on the scene and their department. Was the Southport officer even in his jurisdiction? That’s not clear from the reports. It’s often the case that jurisdictions overlap in county areas between towns, and that could be the case here.

This kid just doesn’t look like he could pose a real threat to three armed police officers. As read, the case looks like murder by police officer.



We live in a time when police armed to the teeth with military-style gear are prone to bust into the wrong homes with guns blazing, to serve questionable warrants often based on shoddy information, shoot people’s dogs, and try their hand at forcing people to turn over their private property for police use.

h/t Ace

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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All Comments   (6)
All Comments   (6)
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My suspicion is that the officer suspended was the one - and only one - who fired a weapon.

The other officers, apparently more familiar with the family and the child, may have had a moment of "What the HELL?" immediately after the gun was fired and should rightfully not be held accountable for the 3rd officer's actions.

This leaves the 3rd officer and the question of why he fired.

It appears no one is claiming he DIDN'T fire his weapon.

If the kid was shot as described, the evidence will likely be pretty conclusive (bullet hole in the floor below his body?) so there is no point in even arguing whether he fired or not - the question at that point becomes "Why".

If he went for his taser, he'd be better off admitting he made a mistake - that's manslaughter if I understand it correctly.

If he deliberately drew his weapon and fired, and his claims to self defense are challenged by the other two officers, then at that point he's looking at a murder charge.

In a choice between manslaughter and murder, I would assume he would plead manslaughter instead due to the penalties involved.

Or he may have been under the impression the other officers would blindly support his claim to self defense - which would be revealing on a whole different level regarding the police force he was a part of.

The whole thing stinks to high heaven and just reinforces my opinion that you never ever ever ever call the police for any reason unless all other options have been exhausted and intruders are trying to beat your locked bedroom door down while your family hides behind you.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The reports say the kid was already "restrained" when shot. Usually, when a cop restrains someone, that means they are handcuffed. Does that mean the cop shot a kid that was handcuffed, and if so, why would the cop "fear for his life", which is a vital element of a self-defense plea?

None of this makes much sense.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As I say after reading so many news stories, our forefathers started a violent revolution over a hell of a lot less than this. The colonies under George III were a libertarian paradise compared to modern America.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's important to note that all of the reports in Bob Owens' piece come from the father, so we're only looking at one POV.

From what we have I think this is similar to the BART station shooting, where an officer thought he was going to tase an uncooperative person but pulled the wrong gun-shaped object.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This story is bizarre enough it makes sense to wait for more information.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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