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.