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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The Police Benevolent Association says officers followed the law when they responded to a call Sunday that ended with a Boiling Spring Lakes teen being shot and killed.

In a statement, the PBA says after being tased, Keith Vidal, 18, made physical contact with BSL Ofc. John Thomas with the hand he was using to hold a screwdriver. That’s when Southport Police Det. Bryon Vassey, In the PBA’s words, “Employed authorized law enforcement action to stop the continuing threat of deadly harm to Officer Thomas and others.”

Thomas and Brunswick County Sheriff’s Dep. Samantha Lewis have been cleared by internal reviews by their respective departments.

Vassey is on paid administrative lead as the SBI investigates.

Comment on this Story

  • Perry Mason

    Is it not a freedom as well as a responsibility of those in a free and democratic society to have an open dialog about government action? Do you think our founding fathers sat and waited for the King to respond to complaints about the oppressive way America was being treated by its European leaders? Or do you think Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson sat and spoke for the months that it took for information to sale across the sea? I suspect they discussed and planned how to deal with the response they would receive.

    In the same manner, we as a people should discuss current events while we wait the months and years it takes for this investigation to take place. I completely agree, we do not have all the facts, and when all the facts are know it may substantially change the way we view this incident. However, as it stands right now despite the stream of information coming from Vasseys camp, non of it is helping his case. If anything it is making him look worse.

    Unfortunately, as long as the laws are in place prohibiting much of an internal affairs investigation are changed, we simply will never get the full picture of what happened. At some point we should have a better understanding, but I certainly think if some smoking gun was available Vassey would have made sure that info was release already. Further, I doubt he would have been indicted. I also find it hard to believe the other officers would have been returned to work so quickly had they been put in a position that their testimony was even remotely questionable. Which leads me to believe they are not backing Vassey’s version of events.

    Check this site out for a former cops view on this shooting and why it was not justified even if the kid did try to stab the officer.

  • Magnum P.I.

    Just food for thought: You so graciously throw us your opinions of this officer, a former colleague of yours. Aren’t you the same Robert T. Willis of the Southport Police Department that was dismissed in 2006 for Domestic Violence? Wouldn’t that fact alone discredit you from being a character witness for this man?

  • melissamarie

    I love when people rant with I have some NEW NEWS.. Hun the mother did not create the fund link. I shared the link personally and if came from a friend of the teen that was killed. So before you blast a fact, check it first

  • guest 588

    And has anyone noticed how many times the families story has changed and the threats that are rumored they have made to harm law enforcement. Now that sounds like a fine upstanding all American family. Also a mom so upset by all this but had time to go on the internet Monday set up a fund for her son funeral go to press conference and beat door until someone notice her. She is only asking for $30,000 in donations for funeral cost. That’s quite a nice going away. don’t think average cost of funeral is $30,000 maybe average attorney fees?????

  • myname

    We have to hold our police to a higher standard, they need college educations and better pay. Do we want police officers like this showing up to our homes in the midst of a crisis. Society has been turning their backs on the mentally ill and their loved ones for some time. By reaching out and helping the mentally ill, we in turn improve our own society. When will the madness end!! We need a special task force coming from and trained by the mental health establishments to safely transport the mentally ill to a hospital. We have got to get this under control.

  • Robert T. Willis

    Lol…….I didn’t say I agreed with his actions…… I said I know him and for all you perry mason types to wait for the SBI report to come out! But as usual…. you jump to your ignorant conclusion!

  • guesty

    One doesn’t have to worship the badge, but one should use some common sense. Do you also avoid going to all doctors because some have committed crimes? Do you not use a mechanic because some have committed fraud? You use a wide brush to paint all cops as bad when that just isn’t true.

    Call me a sheep if you like, I’m good with it because I don’t value your opinion at all.

  • Just wondering

    The parents get on and say their son was not violent or never showed any threat to anyone but they’re the ones that called the police, Not saying their son should have been killed but there is two sides to every story.

  • Grand Ole Party

    You love some police bashing don’t you cupcake. God hurry up and wither away. You watch 2 much tv old man, you are not only paranoid but a bit ignorant to top it off.


    assuming everyone who does not worship the badge is a criminal…I probably have a cleaner past than you. Did you ever think some of us are just not sheep like you????

  • Matt

    Amen Brother… Finally someone with some sense talking on here… All these ppl against the cops and slamming him and the department have no idea.. They all act like they were on scene and they are basing all the information on what the family and news reported.. These idiots keep saying it was only a screwdriver… Well you come at me with a screwdriver, I’m going to drop you as well.. That can be classified as a weapon in my book, no different than a shank. Sorry for the family loosing a love one, but one thing that sticks in my mind is this.. They ( the family) keep saying that he wasn’t never a threat.. So why in the 911 call, did the dad go outside to make the call, and immediately tell C-comm. that he was threatening to fight his mother and that she was scared to death of him and if he wasn’t never a threat, why didn’t the dad just walk up and take the screwdriver away from him??? That sends out red flags of someone who has shown pass violent tendencies.. These haters just need to set back and wait for the reports to be completed.. Everyone is ready to blame and sue the police departments in this world today.. A cop now can hardly do his or her job without the threat of being sued..

  • carl andrews

    But a 90 pound person would, especially one that is already flat on his back. His adrenalin was already bottoming out as it does when one is coming down from a psychotic episode. He probably would have gone to sleep for 16-18 hours at minimum but now he will sleep forever.

  • carlandrews

    Now I do. I have heard and see too much in NH and BC.

  • Bill OBrien

    Mr. Willis, you claim to be a 16 year veteran of the Southport PD. The same PD that showed such great judgment when they made a huge scrap out of illegally parking a patrol verhicle in a handicap parking space. I am sorry but, I used to be a police officer as well. I am trying to figure out how your obviously biased opinion matters any more or less than that of the family? The only group coming out in favor of shooting this young man so far has been Southport PD (BIG SURPRISE!) and the PBA. The PBA is paid to back the officer so that is just as big a surprise as you backing this officer’s actions. Tell me, what weapon did an 18 y.o that weighed 100 lbs. and with two taser probes in him possess that warranted shooting him? The small electronics screwdriver? Is that what you guys are going to stand on? If so, I am glad I got out of law enforcement when I did…there is nothing honorable about that.

  • Robert T. Willis

    I love all the Monday afternoon quarterbacks after Sunday’s game! I love how allyou Perry Masons know exactly what happen when you were not there.you keep crying cover up cover up cover up, nothing has been covered up and nothing will be covered up! The sbi will conduct an investigation in an unbiased manner. The only for a fact that you have right now that you can substantiate is that a boy is dead. The family is the only one putting out information and that information is biased at best! I am a former sergeant with the Southport Police Department and I have a total of 16 years in service….I worked with this detective when he was a mere patrolman… I know his character and I know his personality! I know he would not just arbitrarily shoot s:omebody for no reason, someone’s life had to be in danger! you talk about the system being flawed…. The flawed part is you… Your actions or judgment rather without all the facts is very flawed! People need to wait for the full report to come out and justice will be served. This lynch mob mentality is what’s wrong with this country now!

  • guesty

    Bitter much? The cops are the enemy? Really? Is that because you may have been caught breaking the law in your past? You are just as bad with your poor attitude as the bad cops are with their actions.

  • Robert Clary

    The fact that this many cops, with tasers, couldn’t control a 90 pound boy is all the info we need. It is high time that citizens start striking back. An eye for an eye.


    The cops are your enemy. They are not out there for your protection but to control you. Best advice always record them…RECORD, RECORD, RECORD…video will not lie. They will kill you at the drop of a hat and scream “I was in fear for my life” If they can’t control a kid with a screw driver call me I will handle it. I did a lot worse when I was a bouncer in a bar…

  • MG

    It brings in to question the credibility of the Police Benevolent Association when they come to such a fast conclusion prior to the investigation of the SBI.

  • Pawsalt

    Actually most people don’t flop around when struck with a taser, and they are not always effective. You know not of what you speak.

  • guest8675309

    Two officers holding down this man, and a 9 year veteran just walks in and says “don’t have time for this” and shoots the guy? Doubt that’s the whole story. Some people just believe everything they read on the internet, hey, some news outlets are reporting some guy just captured Bigfoot. Just wait until the investigation is done before spewing your hatred on “Internet news”.

  • stwth6461

    The officer who shot this young man, in the radio transmissions, said he was defending HIMSELF, not another officer. He was on scene somewhere in the range of 70 seconds, yet other officers had been there 14 minutes and radioed it was under control. There’s no escaping that this was a 90-pound individual with somewhere in the range of five officers on the scene. I find it hard to fathom that the Taser was even necessary. Every time inappropriate force by officers is covered up, it just leads to greater and greater abuses. There are a whole lot of kids at South Brunswick who knew this kid. I’m sure they know how capable this kid was of escaping the control of 5 trained police officers.

  • Salt paw

    Well, it would appear as if officers tired to man handle this guy and it didn’t work. Which that in itself is strange since officers almost never grab anybody displaying a weapon. And yes a screwdriver is a weapon, yes you can kill someone with it. Would any of you even care if that poor little female deputy had been stabbed in the throat and killed by this guy.

    It is also strange that it goes from dad telling dispatch ” he is trying to fight his mom and he has a screwdriver”, and ” she is scared to death of him.” To all of sudden he couldn’t hurt a fly. That sounds like a cover up. I read in one of the first articles that mom said she would have just taken the screwdriver away if she had known they would shoot him. So she goes to fearing for her life to, oh I could have handled it. Which one is it, reason would have be believe she nor her husband could control him. Is it really so hard to believe that the officer who shot actual thought if he didn’t someone would be stabbed.

    Also some mental health problems are widely know to give some people extra strength and a very high tolerance to pain. Is it hard to believe this young man was displaying the above traits.

  • Guest Reply Redux

    1. What if this had been your son??? I thought so….
    2. Why are you so against the eye witnessed testimony of this child’s parents??? They were there…you were NOT!
    3. (Your Quote) “I know his character and I know his personality! I know he would not just arbitrarily shoot s:omebody for no reason, someone’s life had to be in danger! you talk about the system being flawed…. The flawed part is you…” (Unquote) Spoken like a true Public Servant for the people.
    A bit of advice Sarge…let the investigation continue its course (as you say), then you will see how well you knew this individual, instead of screaming out his innocence (seeing how YOU were not there). 2 full minutes before the shooting officer called his action in to headquarters??? That delay within itself sounds sketchy. The days of handcuffing an individual…or Pepper Spray…or even the ole Night Stick just can’t get the same results as a bullet…can it??? And “You” wonder why the public is judgemental in this type of situation.
    So before you Quarterback what happened there yourself…wait. But as long as opinions are being handed out…I go with the parents…and so with their lawyers!

  • Concerned For BSL

    How dare the Police Benevolent Association attempt to further the cover-up. The next time this organization contacts you to solicit funds, tell them where they can shove it.

  • Grand Ole Party

    What cover up has occurred so far? Can you provide a single fact? No? Stop trying to be Perry Mason, it isn’t working out for you.

  • kt

    How horrible. A kid is already ‘under control” and some trigger happy guy in uniform takes 70 seconds to shoot him when he arrives after all the others have done their job?????/ Deliver me. when will someone in uniform be punished as a murderer and give us back faith in law enforcement?

  • Jeannie

    They have lost my faithful contributions.

  • BSL Res

    @Concerned for BSL As a BSL resident, save your concern beacause you don’t have a clue about the facts of this case. The PBA cleared the BSL on scene officer because the evidence along with the family members of the deceased young man showed that the BSL officer did nothing wrong. Also today, the Brinswick County Sheriff’s Dept. clear their on scene Deputy for the same reasons. Again the deceased boy parents knoe that the Sheriff’s Deputy was not involved with the shooting. It is the Police Officer from Southport who is the target of this investigation. He has not been cleared, and has been placed on suspension. Get your fact straight before you make noninformed comments about an incident that you are clueless about!!

  • Elliot Renyolds

    The PBA is a professional association…of course they’re going to side with the officer involved in the shooting. But just so I have this straight. This guy had two tazers in him so of course he was flopping all over the place and made physical contact with an officer so that gives the “fat cop” the right to shoot him? I call BS. you know the residents of Oak Island/Southport/Boiling spring lakes are going to freak if this “fat cop” gets away with what is essentially murder.

  • Deputy 25

    You ever been tased? ?? Trust me you don’t flop around. I know. Had to get tased to carry. Not siding with officers or victims. Just stating a fact.

  • BSL Res

    @Elliot Renyolds: Its obvious by your dumb remarks that you haven’t a clue about this incident. The PBA cleared the Boiling Spring Lakes police officer because the facts show he was not in on the shooting. Also The Brinswick County Sheriff’s Dept. cleared their on scene Deputy for the same reasons. The officer who did the actual Shooting is from Southport. A completely separate police dept. The family of the shooting victim does not hold the BSL police Dept. or the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Dept at fault. Their beef is with the Southport Police Dept. Also, where you got your idea that the Oak Island residents are going to freak out is beyond me!! They are not even a party to what happened in BSL!!! Elliot stop reading headlines and educate yourself about the true facts of this case!! Or don’t comment at all about a subject that you are ignorant to!! By the way, I am a BSL resident, and know a lot more then you do!!

  • cops gone wild

    Would you tell the rest of us wher you get your information.

  • Guest Vader

    The kid had been tased. He probably had no control of his limbs, anyhow. This cop killed this kid for no reason. What if the screwdriver had scratched an officer, did that call for a death sentence?

  • haggler

    The Police Benevolent Association? Now THERE’s an objective source for the assessment of police behavior! Isn’t asking the PBA about whether a cop did the right thing — tasing, then fatally shooting, a kid with a screwdriver — a bit like asking a barber if you need a haircut? What the heck ELSE is the PBA going to say? Why is WWAY even carrying this story?

  • Jenn

    CNN just pointed out the very obvious discrepancy in claims. The officer didn’t say he was trying to protect anyone when he murdered Keith.

    He said he shot him to defend HIMSELF, in the call that has been openly published.

  • PBA is a Scam

    I used to have a friend that worked there making calls. If you ask how much of your donation goes to the families of fallen officers they are trained to tell the the whole donation. It is a lie. When you make an apple pie you use the “whole” apple. But that does not include the stem and core. Less than 10% of money collected actually makes it to the police families. At least that is how it was 20 years ago.

  • guest 500

    The PBA is a very highly respectful organization that provides legal representation to law enforcement officers. They do not cover any thing up and they are very selective on the cases they take. It is not a free organization. Law Enforcement officers choose to join and pay for their services just as the Teachers have an association that protects them and in some areas of the United States there is something known as a UNION. The two tasers some fool is taking about is one taser has two prongs sometimes both enter sometime one enters sometime none. A taser is usually used before taking deadly force if it is possible. In a domestic call the safety of the community and the officer comes first. This young man unfortunately was way out of control. Maybe parents should have called dr instead of police since this was an on going problem in this family. I’m sure the boy had mental resources. Sorry the officer is going to have to live with this the rest of his life. It only shows the ignorance of the people in a community when you take a domestic incident to slam every law enforcement person in this county and state. Wake up where would you be without them. Perfectly happy til you are on the end that needs the POLICE as everyone does at some point in your life. These officers make nothing and have very little time with their family and never know when they walk out the door if they will ever see their children, wife, husband that is why the PBA exist is to protect a career that no one else care about. Thank you PBA for all you do for our law enforcement and the community. People have no idea what you give or do they care. People you don’t get it this is a crazy kid with no discipline no respect for authority a future county case now the family will receive $$ for pain and suffering and stress that they were already suffering from daily dealing with this person but now they have someone to blame it on the Law Enforcement of Brunswick County instead of taking responsibility for their own actions or lack of action. They gave birth to him not the officer. The officer did his job which is to serve and protect the public not give mental conseling. Call the shrink for that and don’t waste officers time with domestic issues that most times are created in families because of the morals they live by. Don’t dog an organization the has nothing to do with this and only goes by facts not hearsay.

  • Guest2020

    The PBA gets its dues from the officers and will side with the officers. This kid was not out of control when the Southport officer arrived at the scene. The other officers had radioed into dispatch saying that the situation was under control. It did not escalate again until the Southport officer arrived on the scene. I won’t even address, in detail, your ignorance of people with mental health issues.

  • RSmith

    Could it be more obvious that you are a representative of the PBA? You’re as guilty of jumping to conclusions as the posters you chastise!

    At this point you’re as uninformed as the rest of us. Let the SBI conclude its investigation and then if there are arguments to be made, then make them.

  • carlandrews

    The PBA is PAID for By COPS, for COPS.
    And you honestly believe we are stupid enough to believe they are impartial.

    You own words, despite your long dissertation , negate your own point.

  • Robert T. Willis

    Amen my friend! Well said!!!!


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