Attorney: Shot teen was trying to stab police officer

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Submitted: Fri, 01/10/2014 - 4:56am
Updated: Fri, 01/10/2014 - 2:13pm

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The attorney representing a Southport Police officer who reportedly shot and killed a schizophrenic teen Sunday now says his client fired to protect another officer. But that story conflicts with what the officer himself said minutes after the shooting.

In an interview with CNN that aired this evening, attorney James Payne says Det. Bryon Vassey shot Keith Vidal, 18, because Vidal was not subdued even after being tased and restrained by Boiling Spring Lakes Ofc. John Thomas and Brunswick County Sheriff’s Dep. Samantha Lewis. Instead, Payne says Vidal was using a screwdriver he was holding to try to stab one of the officers.

“In the abdomen area,” Payne told CNN reporter David Mattingly on Thursday’s edition of “Erin Burnett OutFront.” “Apparently he had not (caused any injury). Again, apparently the officer had a bulletproof vest.”

But that’s not what Vassey himself reported Sunday afternoon.

“I don’t know if you’ve been advised or not, but shots fired,” Vassey radioed to a dispatcher moments after the shooting. “I’ve had to defend myself against the subject.”

Payne told WWAY Thursday evening via telephone that there are three things to remember when police immediately call dispatch following an incident.

First, Payne explained that the purpose of the call was to get dispatch alerted that somebody was down and needed emergency assistance.

Second, he said the officer is having to report what occurred while adrenaline is extremely high.

Finally, police officers look at each other as brother and sister and that an attack against one is an attack against themselves.

Payne admitted in the CNN interview that the other officer did not yell for help or ask for anyone to shoot Vidal. Instead, Vassey apparently made the decision to shoot on his own.

“The stabbing motion traveled to an exposed part of the down officer,” Payne said. “(Vidal) was not being subdued.”

Payne said Vassey’s decision was the right one.

Vidal’s family, who has said Vassey murdered the 90-pound teen, referred us to an attorney for comment today, but we did not hear back.

Records show Vassey was the last officer to respond to Vidal’s family’s home in Boiling Spring Lakes Sunday afternoon and that 70 seconds after the detective arrived, Vidal had been shot.

Vassey is on administrative leave as the SBI investigates what happened. Thomas and Lewis have been cleared of any wrong doing through internal reviews by their respective agencies and have returned to duty.

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80 Comments on "Attorney: Shot teen was trying to stab police officer"

2015 years 8 months ago

A YOUNG MAN is dead who shouldn’t be. Does that work better for you??

2015 years 8 months ago

I don’t know how many of the officers involved engaged their tasers, but a statement Sheriff Ingram posted on Facebook states that the deputy involved did engage hers.

2015 years 8 months ago

Your assumption that the officers were not trained, is erroneous. The actual shooter doesn’t sound like he was trained to deal with a mentally ill person. Either that, or he just didn’t want to deal with it. According to the dispatch records reported in the media, the first officer arrived fourteen minutes before the shooter. The second officer arrived within that fourteen minute time frame. Before the third officer arrived, one or both of the other officers had advised dispatch that the situation was under control. When the Southport officer arrived, the situation escalated again. You could be right in that the one officer was not trained, I don’t know. But based on what the media has reported the other two were able to control the situation before Hopalong Cassidy hopped along.

2015 years 8 months ago

Sorry, a coat isn’t a vest. Your “experiment” is flawed because you don’t know facts and don’t have the correct “equipment”. First, you don’t know what type of point was on the screwdriver, second you don’t have a ballistic vest to try it on. But hey, nice job at twisting things to try to make your point. Too bad you failed.

By all your misspellings it is well apparent you are not as smart as you want others to think.

2015 years 8 months ago

You finally posted something that makes sense. Not all the crap you babbled about in the beginning of your post, but the part about drug testing.