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BSL officer, deputy cleared in incident that ended in teen's death; 911, radio traffic provide more detail


BOILING SPRING LAKES, NC (WWAY) -- Boiling Spring Lakes Police say an internal review has cleared Ofc. John Thomas of any wrongdoing in Sunday's incident that ended with a teen dead. The Brunswick County Sheriff's Office says Dep. Samantha Lewis, who also responded, has been cleared following its internal review.

Meanwhile new information reveals the police officer who reportedly pulled the trigger was only on the scene for 70 seconds before shooting and killing Keith Vidal, 18.

"Could you send an officer over here. We have a son that has schizophrenia, and he's not doing very good," Mark Wilsey told a 911 operator Sunday.

Wilsey, Vidal's father, called police Sunday afternoon for help with his son.

"He wants to fight his mother. He's got a screwdriver," Wilsey told the operator. "She's scared to death of him."

The event report shows the first Boiling Spring Lakes Police officer arrived at 1130 President Road at 12:34 p.m. followed by two more BSL officers and a Brunswick County Sheriff's deputy. They reported a confrontation in the hallway but said everything was OK.

Records show Unit 104 from Southport arrived on scene at 12:48 p.m. Just 70 seconds later reports of shots fired come across emergency radio.

"I just heard gunshots," someone reported.

Nearly two minutes passed before Unit 104 reported to dispatch defending his actions.

"I don't know if you've been advised or not, but shots were fired," the officer said. "I've had to defend myself against the subject."

Seconds later the radio calls show that Vidal was taken into custody and being checked out by EMS.

Meanwhile an officer at the scene told dispatch, "We're having problems with the family. They witnessed the shooting."

Southport Police say Bryon Vassey is on paid administrative leave following the shooting. We went to his home today to try and speak with him. No one answered the door, but Boiling Spring Lakes Police arrived and asked us to leave.

Late this afternoon the attorney representing Thomas, who was cleared by the internal review, issued a statement. It said in part that Thomas and other responding officers followed the laws about using force.

The SBI continues to investigate.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


Small but wiry

When I was only four years old, back in 1946, my sister had to have her tonsils taken out. Back then the doctor gave my Dad and Mother a discount to have mine removed too. Yep, they did such things back in those days! But my point is when the nurse was putting me under ether this four year old and small for my age got away from that nurse and was leaving the room. The nurse was a male and immediately he had to call for help as he could not seduce this skinny four year old as I was small but wiry. In came two more males to help him and they too could not get me under control. By then my father had heard the commotion and also ran into the room as had another female nurse. It took these five grown adults to finally hold me down and finish getting me fully under ether for my tonsils to be removed. My point is it does not matter what the size of a person is when it comes to fighting in a situation like this. People are saying how could a 90 lbs. young man with a lethal weapon, not be subdued by grown police officers? Easily as most small built males are very wiry.
No, I am not excusing the investigation into this young man's life but please folks do not judge an officer just because everyone is wanting to say the 90 lbs. male could have been easily over-powered by the officers on site.
And as another person's comment she told about how her son's life was back under control by taking medication. If the dead boy's family had taken their son for medical treatment and he had the medication to control his condition was he possibly not taking it? If not then the young man put his own life in jeopardy in doing this in a sense putting himself out there for something to happen as it did.
So let's not judge against the officers on site by saying a 90 lbs. male should have been easily subdued. I know for a fact as in my case when I was a small skinny four year old it isn't as easy as people would think.
However I agree with some that are saying the police force look out for their own as I have a neighbor that has a Fraternal Order of the Police medallion on all his vehicles. In all the years even when we both had teenage sons and they were stopped by police his son was always let go and our son was given the ticket. If the medallions were of no use why has he always had them on all his vehicles over the years?
There are aspects on both sides of this issue that need to be addressed before making loose comments like the ones being seen on this site.


Three BSL officers and a Brunswick Co. Deputy needed help?

So now there are three BSL officers joined by a Brunswick Co. Deputy handling this situation with a mentally ill, 90 lb., 18 yr old boy and a Southport policeman shows up and within 70 seconds, the boy is dead. WTH? I'm sure they will try to come up with some lame reason that the boy was killed but in my opinion there is simply no justification for this murder.

Out of Control

You all need to make up your mind. One minute you are crying that your thug neighbors are out of control and you are begging the town for help. Now you are saying that the police are out of control. Decide which you want: LEO's to take back your town or just continue to be the gang area that you are. I live outside of Wilmington and its exciting to watch your news every night because you all keep it real. Drama City USA

4 cops failed to do their job

If the officer that shot and killed this young man did so because he was defending himself and his life was in peril, then obviously the other 4 officers who were already on scene FAILED to do their job.
In order to believe that shooting officer you have to conclude that 4 other cops were unable to subdue and control the young man and in fact they were failing at their job so profusely as to let the 5th officer become in danger of his life.
I'm not really buying that...

In custody

Why is officer Vassey not already in custody? It seems to me that there were at least two other officers present ,arn't they competent enough to determine if Vassey broke the law.Surely if two police officers were witness to a shooting they would take the perpetrator into custody and then determine whether or not to bring charges. And what is taking the SBI so long to determine if there is enough evidence to charge Vassey, they have had all the evidence(at least four eyewitnsses,dispatch recordings)from day one.Going on 5 days starting to stnk to me.

Officer Involved

Does anyone know how the Southport Officer got involved to begin with? Was he dispatched as back up since this was a domestic call which are very dangerous calls to answer and this residence was known for these kind of calls or was he there to assist on his own. I would think he was dispatched to a call of that manner.

He was told to stand by

He was told to stand by because it was okay but went anyways

You CANNOT judge all police

You CANNOT judge all police officers by one police officers actions. I too have had to call the police for assistance with one of my children. Number one, unless you have a child who can go from the nice sweet angel to an angry out of control child you will never know what it is like, As for an eighteen year old, 90 lb child being defenseless against a grown man or woman, I beg to differ with you. I for one have had assistance, with my child and at all times they have been helpful to calm her and assist me with getting help for my child. I have personally had to watch my child in a hospital fight 5 grown men who had a very hard time trying to detain her. I assure you it was not easy for them or me. They were compassionate with my child and did not press charges even though my child has scratched, kicked and bitten them in the process. I do agree that the southport officer was way out of line, but the BSL officer and the Brunswick county officer did all they could to assist with caring and compassion from what I have read. I personally do not think the other officer will walk free for his part in this confrontation but PLEASE do not judge other officers that put their lives on the line for us daily by the actions of one officer. As for me I give thanks to the officers who assist us daily when we need them.

When the good cops don't clean out the trash... all are bad

Since a civilian has absolutely zero chance of ever bringing charges against a cop, it is up to the clean cops to clean out the dirty ones.

Think about it the next time you call 911.... do you get a cop turn up or a psycho with a gun.

Police Shootong

My late husband who had serious mental health issues, met our local police at the door with a look-alike 9mm gun and he was taken into custody by ONE officer. They, like these officers knew him, and had been advised by me that the replica was an unloaded toy. My husband, at the time, was depressed and wanted to commit suicide by cop. That officer looked my husband in the eye, walked up to him and removed the gun from his hand, and asked, "What do you think you're doing?". He spun my husband around, cuffed him and called for an ambulance and my husband was admitted to the hospital by the police. When he came home, a couple of weeks later, he expressed how much he admired that cop, who bravely walked right up to him and then got him help.

Dont call police

Next time you need help, don't call the police. You are all just a bunch of bleeding heart liberal sheep!

Your Right!

If in the future, your house is broken into, or if your car is stolen, forget the cops, go look for the crooks yourself, good luck!!

First and foremost, I have

First and foremost, I have been a police officer for over 20 years. I have seen a lot of changes in the profession and witnessed good and bad police work. Though I was not there and am sure not everything has come out - or never will - it is disturbing what transpired if the facts are accurate. On its face, it appears that the BSL and BCSO officers had the situation under control and a rogue officer from Southport decided to escalate the situation and overreact with tragic consequences. I have had to work with officers like that and can tell you, no one in the police profession wants to have this type of person on the force. I read a lot of posts about the "blue code of silence" and cops "circling the wagons to protect their own" and acknowledge that is a problem, reason why I don't give out my name because to stand up and speak out against bad cops and bad police work does get you blackballed - something that is true in every profession but more so in police work since it is scrutinized so much and everybody who knows how to be a cop and what "they" should do. As tragic as this is, and, if the facts bear out that Officer Vassey used excessive force, I hope he is prosecuted and that the police community acts to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. I would like to know if Vassey was CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) certified - a program for officers to deal with mentally ill persons (and, contrary to another post, it is part of our growing job and responsibility to deal with these incidents). Unfortunately, the "old" guard of police work have been adverse to this and many forward thinking programs(some Chiefs need to retire), but I think if he had this training and used it, this would have been prevented - WWAY, do a story on CIT Training and how it may have prevented this tragic chain of events.

All police officers should

All police officers should be trained appropriately. This "good-'ol-boy" network must stop! And why would a person who has not had training on the mentally ill be sent to the scene where there is a crisis with a person that is having a psychotic break?

I could have taken away the screwdriver from this kid and I am 5 ft tall woman.

This detective needs to be charged with murder and the "Chief" needs to be fired. The police need better training and I think that ALL police officers should have AT LEAST a 4 year college degree. Before someone comes to my house I need to know that they at least have some basic analytical skills and the ability for rational thought. Otherwise, I vote for Planet of the Apes which I could probably maneuver around.

I want to see term limits set for these "Chieftans".

God I can't take the stupid anymore. This is the 21st century and I feel like I live in the Middle Ages.

There is no rational thought in Brunswick County Government. Its in the shallow end of the gene pool.

First and Foremost

First and Foremost, had you actually been a cop, you wouldn't be second guess the police officers actions based upon yellow journalism from WWAY and Scott Pickey.

Secondly, ANYONE armed, regardless if handicapped or not, is threat and we have the right to defend ourselves.

Have no fear though, Town of Boiling Spring Lakes, Southport and Brunswick County Tax Payers will buy them a new Escalade, wardrobe and Play station 4, just like when New Hanover settled with the Strickland's with their dipshit son, Peyton because the David district attorneys have already proven they will take the easy road.

Police Officer vs Pig

I think we just witnessed the sad reality of the way a Police Officer should think and act and the way a Pig thinks.

You have assumed this cop innocent just as quickly has many have assumed him guilty just because he wears a badge and also stated that his actions should not be second guessed (i.e. questioned and held responsible). I am sorry but we are all human whether mentally ill or a cop. We are all fallible and subject to mistake. Lets make a very clear distinction I feel most cops don't get now days. There is a big difference between defending yourself and killing someone. There are way to many lethal shooting by cops in this country now days. Cops kill more people than terrorist in this country. I understand there are bad people but not all need executed on the street. One of the jobs of a police officer is to bring criminals before the court to be judged and sentenced by due process.

Given what has been reported so far a rational and fair mind could only conclude one thing, but we do not know for sure if these are all the facts and accurate. I can say with certainty that if these reports are half way accurate there are many other ways this could have been handled. If police mentality was to protect rather than engage they could have simply backed safely out of the house and come up with a better game plan. Maybe the kid would have punched some holes in the walls but how trivial is that to the cost of human life. Do cops know how to do anything except pull a gun and shoot center mass anymore(News flash that is a KILL shot)? Yes being a Cop is a high risk job but its not the only one and it is a choice. If you are not willing to accept the risk and responsibility find another line of work.

Lets take a look at this situation in a different light and see how it sounds. --- Son has a psychotic episode grabs a small screwdriver and starts acting violent. The parents call the neighbor for a little extra help. The parents then wrestle the kid down and restrain him at which time the neighbor comes running in see's the parents restraining the child says "I don't have time for this shit" and shoots the restrained kid in the chest. -- Boy that paints a different picture when you take the badge out of the equation.

We have to get past this us vs them mentality that is viral on both sides of the fence. We are all neighbors with jobs and lives in the same community and country. Confidence in government is the single most important issue in unifying a country.

People like you are the problem

Your senseless comments reveal your fascist attitudes. Police are way way out of control in all aspects of "law enforcement". It only makes the news when innocents are killed. Which is happening all too frequently...

Random stops, random citations, racial profiling, stop & frisk, and "justified" murders by militarized police... all of it sanctioned by their overlords; the corrupt courts and lawyers who directly benefit.

Too few news outlets ethically report on police/Court malfeasance. For without the prejudicial "Cops Say" reports to local news, what would they report during "film at 11"?

See the big picture... USA #1 in the world for imprisoned citizens.
No third world, communist, or crony corrupt capitalist dictatorship can beat the USA.

Facist attitudes

If you don't like the allegded "police state" we live in, as a civilized society with rules, feel free to exit our society into a country that is more suited to your liking.

WWAY is not the only media

WWAY is not the only media outlet reporting on this incident. The other outlets are presenting the same information. All I have read indicates that the BSL officer and the deputy had the kid calmed down before the Southport officer arrived on the scene. It has been reported that dispatch had received a message from one of the officers, before the Southport officer came in, that the situation was under control.

thugs murder, cops help

Seems like you don't know even the first clue of what you are talking about. If you are so inept with your firearm you can't wound, you are a clear and present danger to anything with a heartbeat anywhere within range.

You should not be allowed to own a firearm.

Stick with it long enough

Stick with it long enough and I'm sure you'll get the opportunity to kill someone to,and how do you know he was a threat to the officer, because the officer said he was. and I suppose police officers are incapable lying too.

Sticking with it...

How do you know he wasn't a threat? Because the parents, who have previously called 911 over 30 times to deal with a problem they aren't dealing with, say so?

Police did not call themselves out there. The parents clearly stated he was armed with a screw driver(weapon) and wanted to fight his mother.

Use of force seems reasonable enough for me. Hope I get picked for the jury duty because the officer is acquited in my book.

More information is needed

Similar to Schizophrenia, some autistics experience violent snaps in their teens. No one is sure why, but they have found that anti-psychotic drugs, like Risperidone, can calm these troubled teens allowing them to function normally. This was the case with my autistic son who was arrested 4 times but never convicted of assaulting me and his father. We knew that this medication would help our son, but it took a judge to order the appropriate state services to cooperate that finally got us our son back and out of Juvenile Detention.

I would be interested to know if these parents had their son on Risperidone or any other anti-psychotic. If they were struggling with the same stone wall that we did, I would be seeking legal counsel to make the responsible parties pay for their lack of action. And while it does not negate the responsibility of the police officer that shot the teen, it can explain why the police had experienced so many problems with the family in the past.

My prayers and heart felt sorrow go out to the parents for the loss of their son.

Shooters Tattoos

The shooter Bryon Vassey has a huge Grim Reaper tattoo on his calf and a bloody skull on the other. Looks like he lived up to his ink.


I have a tattoo of a shark. That must show my inner desire to swim around and snap people's limbs off with my teeth. Geez.


Have seen way worse tramp stamps....Find some better material.

The local law enforcement

The local law enforcement investigated themselves and found nothing wrong? Now that's a big shock! When is the last time you saw a law enforcement officer give a fellow law enforcement officer a speeding ticket. My Brother in law is a cop. Whenever he is pulled, he shows his badge and is given "professional courtesy." What that means is, 2 sets of laws ..1 for those in front of the badge, 1 for those behind the badge. Until this reality is addressed, law enforcement as a whole will continue to suffer credibility issues.

They have not cleared all of

They have not cleared all of the officers, just the ones who didn't pull the trigger. The one that killed the kid is still under investigation. As for your brother-in-law, I don't know anyone who will not try everything available to them in order to avoid getting a ticket.

To all of you anti-establisment, police-hating and accusatory...

...know nothings, try to gather the facts before spouting off your ignorance. You sound like a bunch of smelly 60's era hippies that spit on Vietnam Vets, adored Jane Fonda and couldn't get out of your own way in a 3 knot breeze, much less fight for your country or even attempt to become a trained police officer.

Here are a few FACTS, so attempt to wear these shoes without filling them up with your own brown sludge:

* NOBODY wanted to see this young man die! This is a horrible incident for both sides and one that will remain in all of their minds until their dying day!
* The detective from Southport is a nine year veteran. I can gurantee all of you that he is in as much pain over this as the family of that teenager.
* The police were intentionally dispatched BY THE FATHER via a somewhat frantic 911 call. This call was responded to as a domestic violence situation, the worst and most unpredictable and usually most violent calls the police encounter.
* The police have responded to calls at this residence in excess of 20 times. This clearly shows continually on-going issues that WERE NOT addressed by the family!
* The teen just turned 18 and weighed 90 pounds. ANYONE experiencing schizophrenic/psychotic episodes can and will exhibit explosive bursts of superhuman strength that can't be contained by several grown adults. Age and weight is not a factor.
* Stating that "the teen is only 18 and only 90 pounds in weight and ONLY had a TINY screwdriver that couldn't hurt anyone". So why didn't his 250 pound father that made the distress call in the first place disarm him? He was AFRAID to approach him as he knew the potential of his sons outburts. Hence the reason for the other 20+ 911 calls!

These are just a few of the basics. Now, allow the SBI to perform their investigation and refrain from accusing the LEOS of cover-ups, conspiracies and one-sided conclusions! The vast majority of people that show such disdain for law enforcement are those that have had multiple arrests and convictions and are current dregs of society, including those that are failed LEOs spouting off here!