Charged officer’s attorney tells more about BSL shooting

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Submitted: Thu, 02/06/2014 - 1:17am
Updated: Fri, 03/14/2014 - 3:20pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A day after a Southport police officer turned himself in on a voluntary manslaughter charge, his lawyer is speaking out.

Attorney James Payne says Det. Bryon Vassey handled the situation that ended in 18-year-old Keith Vidal’s death the best he could. Payne says Vassey acted honorably on Jan. 5 when he shot and killed the schizophrenic teen in Boiling Spring Lakes.

Payne says a body mic on one of the other officers reveals what he believes really happened that sunday afternoon.

He says at some point during the struggle Vassey saw Vidal make a stabbing motion with a pick toward BSL Ofc. John Thomas that was blocked.

“The next blow comes back, as we described it to Judge Hooks, there was nothing blocking that pick from Ofc. Thomas’s head,” Payne said.

Payne also said that Vassey at no point said, “I don’t have time for this. Taze him,” as Vidal’s father has claimed.

Payne says moments after the fatal shot was fired Vassey spoke to Thomas about what had just happened.

“Det. Vassey says to Det. Thomas, and it’s caught on video, as well, ‘I had no choice,’ and Ofc. Thomas said, ‘I know, I know,'” Payne said.

Southport Police Chief Jerry Dove says he is meeting with District Attorney Jon David in the next few days to discuss Vassey’s employment. Right now, though, he says Vassey is still on paid leave.


  • athina says:

    you must understand if your sworn to protect and serve and like the statement states the young man was about ready to strike the one officer. I believe its the parents fault. maybe the young man was going through DT’s from all the heroin that was confiscated two days prier, that might be the reason why they couldn’t control him; did you ever think of that?

  • tim says:

    It seems that Yankees don’t know how to keep their opinions to themselves. It also seems that many Yankees have no class and are the only ones condemning this officer with comments like “up north we did it this way”. You know a good southerner would say “go back where you came from if you don’t like it here”.

    You can’t tell me any officer would intend to kill this young man in cold blood. Police officers are good people that deal with other people’s crap on a daily basis. I would bet that many of the calls are caused by the influx of trashy yankees that didn’t like it up north

  • 211 says:

    Why didn’t the family let the boy kill the mother? Why call the police? because if anything went wrong, they wouldn’t have anybody to sue. They couldn’t handle him, so they called in a scape goat.

  • missingnc says:

    Why do cops think they can’t go hands on anymore?Whimps?If someone has a gun,I can understand.If three cops cannot disarm a small kid or 19 year old man that only has a small pick,whatever,than they need a desk job or better yet another profession.I remember the days when cops would do anything not to kill, now it seems procedural,if they feel endangered to just kill.The problem is the taser.If they tase someone and it does not take them down then that gives them the right to use the thing a gun.I say get rid of the tasers and if you are going to apply for a law enforcement job well just know that you may have to go “hands on” to take someone into custody.

  • Beach Bum says:

    I surely hope and pray to the Almighty, when this officer is exonerated of all and any charges, you people, including the yellow journalist at WWAY TV-3, have the balls to offer an apology to the detective.

    State of North Carolina should be filing charges against the parents for child neglect and abuse for not properly caring for their retarded kid.

  • Guest2745 says:

    These people aren’t human pollution. They were probably utilizing the police because there were no other mental health resources to take advantage of. There is a stunning shortage of psychiatric workers in almost every county in the US (not just Drs., but a shortage of social workers, counselors, etc.). If we had a “bleeding heart” system it would get sick people to doctors instead of making us call the police on them.

  • Dustin says:

    Gotta love trolls that love to stir things up

  • Dave says:

    Here is a former police officers and academy instructors break down on this incident. He breaks down how tactically even if Vassey had to shoot the kid, why it was wrong since the police officers created the situation by rushing the kid while still armed instead of letting the Tazer do its job. This is basic police procedure they teach the new kids in the academy and this guy did not know how to handle himself?

  • Tired Taxpayer says:

    Its a shame that an officer will have his career either destroyed or permanently tainted because a housefull of human pollution constantly abuses the system. Records showing over 40 calls for police assistance from these degenerates is clear abuse and a waste of taxpayer dollars. Now this man will have to fight for his life in the bleeding heart liberal court system for protecting a fellow officer in the line of duty. We all know if he was a drunk driver or illegal alien and killed someone, it would be a slap on the wrist but since the family wants to tell lies in the liberal media, the district attorny has to jump right on it. He must want a high profile case that tries to get the liberal populace behind him right before election time. I wonder what he is worried about.

  • guest111111 says:

    Everyone making idiotic and ignorant comments about mental illnesses should go look up “Lebensunwertes Leben”. I think you’ll be surprised that not only are you ignorant, you’re literally a Nazi. Maybe it’s time to change that tone, eh?

  • Mike johnson says:

    It can be done. Brave deputies from Newberry county, SC risk their lives to save an armed and dangerous guy in a stand-off….

  • Dustin says:

    They do not only want a payout. I happen to know the family personally. the “big fat man” may not have been able to handle the “90 lbs kid”, but just in case you can’t read that well, neither could 3 highly trained police officers armed with tasers, handcuffs and guns. There is no reason they couldn’t have tased and cuffed. There was no need for deadly force. It was murder. PERIOD

  • guest111111 says:

    “Vassey acted honorably on Jan. 5 when he shot and killed the schizophrenic teen”

    It’s amazing how lawyers can say things like this with a straight face and still be able to sleep at night.

    “a body mic on one of the other officers reveals what he believes really happened that Sunday afternoon”

    “Payne also said that Vassey at no point said, “I don’t have time for this. Taze him,” as Vidal’s father has claimed.”

    It’s pretty easy to selectively edit an audio recording. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lawyer who says killing a kid is honorable manipulated evidence.

  • GTFU says:

    The Supreme Court has ruled that Police are not constitutionally required to serve and protect an individual.

    Also… he might have been implanted by an alien probe and that’s why they couldn’t hold him down. From the alien technology! (In addition… *prior*)

    I mean really… what if scenarios are ignorant on something like this. Even if the kid had injured an officer with that screwdriver, that should most definitely not be provocation for lethal force. Even if someone has murdered someone right in front of you, there are still better ways to solve things than killing people. It baffles me how so many people are just like…. Screw It. Murder is just way easier.

  • anti cop says:


  • Legally Blonde says:


    I concede; I have a tendency to resort to name-calling when I am frustrated. And yes, I was out of line. My apologies to any person offended by my poor choice of words. Additionally, I’d like to address an inference you made about me from my initial post. My expertise with these issues does not stem from television programs; I simply used those examples as touchstones most people would recognize. In fact, my *expertise,* is primarily based on my law degree. …and the > 10 years working in criminal justice on BOTH sides. I also have a very strong foundation in family law and constituional rights. I teach law school classes, I’ve set legal precident, drafted legislation that is now law, and I have a pretty AWESOME trial record. I do not take cases simply to get paid; the majority of my work is done Pro Bono. My current case load is researching and consulting on “difficult” legal issues, such as infanticide, civil-rights restoration, juvenile justice, etc., etc. So, while yes, I did get a little emotional in my initial post, my opinions regarding the legality of the shooting of Keith Vidal are based from my actual legal expertise. (As a disclaimer: I can only comment on what I’ve read from various media sources; that information may very well be slanted. Thus, I may change my views with additional information about the facts of this case.)

  • Legally Blonde says:

    What, exactly, makes a person, “human pollution?” Is there actual criteria, or is it a subjective lable? I ask this because…well…to me, “human pollution,” seems like a pretty accurate description of the dregs who authored that post. Last I checked, it is 2014. I mean, I AM blonde and thus, easily confused, so please…correct me if I am mistaken. If however, I am correct, I would be remiss by not asking: how does schizophrenia render someone a “retard?” Anyone who’s seen Law/Order or CSI or ANY crime show in the last 15 years, has at least a basic understanding of schizophrenia (which, by the way, affects even the most brilliant of folks). First: aside from school-children, who even uses that term as a disparagement anymore? Second: You’re an idiot. And third: yyyyyyeah. You’re an idiot. I can’t even find adequate words to properly comment because a) you wouldn’t understand a proper response; and b) generations of inbreeding have rendered your mind almost completely closed off from reality. As far as this incident goes: it’s tragic. For both parties. At the end of the day though, you will never convince me that shooting this kid was the best option. I don’t care how GREAT a cop Vassey was; that doesn’t negate his horrible decision in *this* case. He’s lucky he wasn’t indicted with a hate crime. And, as far “human pollution,” the only pollution I noticed was the *retard* who authored that post.

  • Guest2020 says:

    I agree with that it was out of line to call the victim “human pollution”. What I take exception to in your post is that you are basing your expertise on television shows. Now, I like watching those shows because I find them entertaining, but neither has a full grasp of reality. The other thing I take exception to is your remark about inbreeding. It is just as much out of line as “human pollution”.

  • A D says:

    He should be charged with FIRST DEGREE MURDER because Byron Vassey had already made up his mind that he was going too shoot Keith Vidal before he did so. You don’t say, “We don’t have time for this” and then shoot someone unless you have already decided that is what you want to do. If Keith Vidal had been “trying to stab officers”, then that is what Byron Vassey would have said. Vassey would have said “Put it down! That’s assault on a police officer”. I have NEVER heard anyone say “We don’t have time for this” when trying to defend themselves. The lawyer is just trying to spin the story.

    The sad part is, Vassey will more than likely get away with murder without being convicted of anything, including voluntary manslaughter which is like telling him to go sit in the corner for 5 minutes. Randall Kerrick got away with murdering, unarmed and tased, former football player, Jonathan Ferrell, who was looking for help after a car accident. Murder is becoming a habit for police departments in North Carolina, and all over.

    It’s people like Vassey and Kerrick that give cops a bad name, even if they aren’t bad. It’s people like Vassey and Kerrick that are making citizens not trust any law enforcement officials. It’s people like grand juries refusing to indict murderers like, Randall Kerrick, that help add to the problems of the justice system. It’s cops supporting corrupt and cold blooded killers like Vassey and Kerrick, that is making other cops think they can do the same thing and get away with it. It will only take a few of these people like Kerrick and Vassey, to be tried, convicted and executed, to prove to law enforcement everywhere that they cannot abuse and/or murder innocent people without suffering the consequences. Just because someone works in law enforcement doesn’t mean they should, and it definitely doesn’t make them above the law.

  • K Brooks says:

    One simple question. You observe a suspect with a pocket screw driver in his hand. Two other officers has the suspect on the ground. You outweigh the suspect by 100 pounds. The screwdriver appears dangerous. Do you 1) grab the hand with the screwdriver and force the hand open to remove it;)2 shoot the suspect:)3 all of the above because you don’t want to be called out again for the 44th time. No manslaughter is a good charge. The officer has to state why he didn’t simply grab the hand. That would take less time than drawing a handgun from its holster. This deputy has some explaining to do.

  • CommonSenseFromNY says:

    If the police officers in the video can arrest and handcuff this big non-cooperative woman, then those police officers should’ve been able to handle the little 90 pound young man! No excuse!
    That detective probably should’ve gotten fired a long time ago before this happened! This probably wasn’t the first time that he “didn’t have time for this.”

  • Teachurchildrenwell says:

    Really? As ignorant as you sound I wouldn’t let anyone know I’d gone to law school if I were you.

  • Teachurchildrenwell says:

    Wow. Hopefully you are no where near my state. Go back to the Stone Age.

  • justin says:

    very nicely said. All they want is a payout I would hate to think that if I was a big fat man like the step dad I couldn’t handle a 90lb kid.

  • athina says:

    Amen !!!! and then this honorable officer and family will probably have to go on welfare and more tax payers dollars being spent!!! all over him doing his job and that is to protect and serve…

  • Guest2020 says:

    Just because one type of criminal doesn’t get punished properly that doesn’t mean that the other criminals should get away with it. You obviously have no understanding of schizophrenia. He was not human pollution. He had a mental illness. Now, I don’t, in anyway, believe that Vassey got up that morning with the intent of killing anyone. I do believe that he was wrong. The dispatch records show that before Vassey got there at least one of the other officers on the scene had radioed in that the situation was under control. Why would they say that if their lives were in danger?

  • chet says:

    There’s a lot of sick right-wing republican fascists trolling these comments.

  • justin92 says:

    Amen Tim you are 100% correct

  • Guest4396 says:

    Does anybody really think that there was no opportunity to “doctor” any tape(s) that were possibly made during this? Why has this not been brought up before now?

  • Guest-o-matic says:

    …foil hat and think in reality here. This is a very sensitive case with a lot public opinion and condemnation based on assumption, not fact. There is a lot more to come out in the trial that you’re not even vaguely aware of.

    Just because pertinent facts aren’t readily released to the general public, does not mean there is a “conspiracy” going on as you seem to believe.

    OK, you can put your foil hat back on now before those government spawned x-rays from outer space getcha…

  • ssa says:

    The reason this has not come out before is because this is an ongoing case. All you have heard is from the victim’s family. This is a sad situation but come on….why are you so quick to jump to your conclusion when you were not there. The mic that was on the officers recording everything was given to the SBI..Do you really think you know everything…I SERIOUSLY DOUBT IT!!!

  • justin says:

    Bryon was a good man and a excellent cop he and his family should not have to go through this mess. He is innocent fair rights for Bryon.

  • R Parish says:

    This man (and I use the term lightly) is a coward and a lier. I hope he gets what everyone else that is not the police would get. Life in prison without the possible of parole.

  • justin says:

    Well what does this say for you? I bet you are only saying that because you have been caught doing something against the law. Most criminals does not like law enforcement officers because of the lifestyle they live.

  • Guest2020 says:

    Life in prison without parole is reserved for crimes more serious than voluntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is a Class D felony and would carry a sentence of approximately six years.

  • Megan says:

    First of all, you’re clearly uneducated. I would like to back my statement up with your horrible grammar. I learned how to spell the word “helped” as a young child, and there is no apostrophe. Also, when saying someone is accustomed to doing something, such as using a weapon, you do not use the word “use”, but you would, in fact, use the word “used”.
    Ex. “…cops are very used to using, and not using, their weapons.”
    Second, have the police ever helped anyone?
    The answer to your question is yes, yes they have. I know this may be difficult due to the inadequacy of your very small mind, but try to imagine a world with no police officers.
    Someone breaks into your home at 3 a.m. and not only wants to take everything valuable to you, but also wants to take your life. Who do you call? No one. Who is willing to drive to your house, given the circumstances, and save your life? No one. So when your attacker is “using his fist” to beat you until you are completely breathless, please tell me you have someone on standby to come and save the day. Oh, you own a gun? So when your attacker is pulling back for another stroke, and your weapon is within reach, what do you do? I’m sure you, a very fine citizen, would roll with the punches, am I not correct? Adrenaline is pumping through your body, and all you can think is, “Dear God, I’m going to die”, and you want to tell me you do not reach for your gun, and your not hoping someone comes in behind him and does it for you?! Seriously, the will to live outweighs every little thing you can think of. Take a psychology class and learn something.
    Whether the officer was right in shooting the boy is not your place to decide. You were not there. Yes, his family was in the room, but whose problem is that? A threat is a threat. Instead of flaunting your ignorance, why don’t you pick up a book and learn English, since clearly it is not your most fluent language.

  • Guest-o-matic says:

    …wherever it is in the northeast you reside, please remain there. Work very hard to graduate the 3rd grade so you’ll learn how to write and never, ever pursue a career in practicing law!

  • Victor Martinez says:

    1st never call the police for help…really have they ever help’d anyone
    2nd up here in the northeast those cops would have never done what vassey did. See up here cops are very use to using and not using thier weapons. they also use thier fist but i guess men down thier resort to weapons huh.

    just saying……

  • guesty says:

    He wasn’t a child, he was 18.

    “See up here cops are very use to using and not using thier weapons.”

    What does that even mean?

    they also use thier fist but i guess men down thier resort to weapons huh.”

    They their there

    Not too bright, are you?

  • Grand Ole Party says:

    My Grandfather once owned a farm mule with more common sense than you have princess. If you ever get the urge to vacation down south…Don’t!

  • guest000000 says:

    Lawyer??? I do hope that’s your name and not your title. The next time I need an attorney, the first thing I’m quizzing him on is the proper use of your and you’re.

  • Lawyer says:

    Gosh your just so bright and always eager to help. How is it you just never got into Law School, and remain so bitter.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    I deal with attorneys on litigation rather frequently. Only 1 or 2 in southeastern NC have shown the investment for a law degree was well spent.

    They know how the system works; they can crunch the numbers; and they know insurance carriers will mitigate the loss by settling out of court.

    Notice your law credentials must be so new you don’t even take the time to validate your identity.

    And again, I note the attorney should keep his client out of the media spotlight and not be making comments of any type. UNLESS, he is working for the town and knows a guilty verdict will mitigate the town’s exposure to a lawsuit.

    If you are an attorney, it must hurt to have your true colors showing. Sort of like the fairy tale King who walked around without clothes.

    Oh, I guess you missed spelling while pursuing a law degree. Your is a possessive word. You’re communicates you are. I assume the latter was your misspelled attempt. And you’ve just contributed to the further downfall of attorney reputations.

  • haggler says:

    Why won’t you allow anti-Vassey comments to be posted?

  • Angelica says:

    Because you are all so caught up in being right and know nothing about this case. People who think they know what happened are ignorant! None of you were there! the recorded Mic was given to the SBI. How about you believe in this country, INNOCENT UNTIl PROVEN GUILTY. Give me a break and get a life. Or if you want to listen to the family who called the police 43 times to handle their son in the past and the fact that the mother was screaming for her life and the fact that the child was out of control and had already stabbed one of the officers 6 times in his bullet proof vest and was going for his head matter to you? I suppose not because you are ignorant!

  • guesty says:

    Freedom of speech doesn’t apply to private business. Freedom of speech keeps the government for silencing an individual. This is WWAY’s website and they have control over who posts and what is posted. Don’t like it? Start your own site.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    any half witted lawyer would have kept his mouth shut as he worked on his client’s case. Given his comments, one must think this attorney has not yet risen to half wit status.

  • haggler says:

    What is Vassey’s lawyer supposed to say — that his client’s a murdering scumbag?

    What do you call an honest lawyer? An oxymoron.

  • Guest2020 says:

    James Payne happens to be one of the best attorneys in the business. He does his job and he does it well.

  • dRb says:

    He, and any of his family who chooses to stand by the murderer, deserve all of the hardship that comes to them. He killed someone else’s kid, so it is hard to get worked up because his living kids have to face classmates who my rag on them for having a murderer for a father. Boo Hoo. Let his liar of a wife go get a job and support the family that the murderer cant support. You want him on the force where he can kill another child? Why not offer yours up to him, idiot.

  • Grand Ole Party says:

    Very well stated. Stand up and stand out.

  • athina says:

    Amen!!!! Amen!!! Amen !!!!! I can’t stand the ignorance of some people. This detective’s family is struggling to keep their sanity and their children in a public school that one of the family members attend. This has put his family in a bind financially. His wife attends school and his salary is the only income they have to put a roof over their heads and food on the table for their children. The government leaders in Southport and the media should be ashamed for persecuting a man who has not been found guilty in our courts of doing anything wrong. He has been tried an hung by the media and government leaders who are more concerned with their political ambitions and sensational journalism than justice. What has happened to “a man is innocent until proven guilty”? The media and others have declared this man guilty and he hasn’t even been tried and found guilty in a court of law. We can only hope that when the entire case is presented that the truth comes out and this man who risks his life every day for the welfare of everyone, including the journalists who sensationalize the news for ratings, is cleared of all charges.

  • JoeBazots says:

    So what? His family at least has the luxury of their dad getting a trial. No so for the mentally ill young man that was executed in front of his family. He had no opportunity for a day in court. His family should be thanking their lucky stars that their dad is out on bond, still collecting a paycheck.

  • ... says:

    It’s amazing how people who have little merit to their arguments immediately resort to ad hominem attacks. I’m not going to follow suit; in fact, I am going to attack your logic instead of you, whom I don’t know and don’t wish to know.

    1. Trying to make ANY inference about my personality, intellectual capability, or education based upon a post I made on a news article, generated from my phone, and did wrote while walking down the street seems like a stretch.

    2. It IS for me to decide whether or not I feel he’s guilty. People are tried in the Court of public opinion every day. In fact, I have already rendered my mental verdict and have happily mentally executed the guilty pig. :)

    3. Don’t you find it just a LITTLE ridiculous to insult strangers over the internet? I don’t understand what you get from that. I mean, does it make you feel tough? Exceptionally intelligent? What?

    In any event, you’ll note that I didn’t call you one single name, didn’t use an ad hominem logical fallacy, and only attacked your logic; not you. Have a great guilty-pig-loving day!

  • guest111111 says:

    It’s probably really easy to make a living as a professional liar when you’re so detached from reality that you can say with a straight face that killing a kid is honorable. The best lawyers are the best liars and a statement like that is sociopath-level lying.

  • Sothern Born says:

    Most of your comments are from outer space, and you appear to have a complete knowledge of what gear is required to keep you safe from the Government.

    If the fathers statements aren’t true because their not on the tape. then are we also to believe that statement, “I had to Defend Myself” was just a planted lie by the police officer in his own recording.

    Here is one, a grand jury indicted him, with only written testimony from the other officers, I have no facts, but police officers arrest more folks on murder charges everyday with less evidence. So based on how the system usually works and it took a grand jury to indict him Id say we would all need some of you’re Tin foil hats when dealing with the judicial system.

  • Skeptacular says:

    I think the judge must weigh family testimony (since they were there) with the audio recording. Emotions are high on both sides of this tragedy. Two possibilities: Vassey could have stormed in, disrupted a fragile situation, and felt he could kill the victim under color of authority. On the other hand, his very entry could have upset the delicate balance, and when the victim again was out of control, judge he had no other option. We just don’t know. I have and will continue to follow this case in any event.

  • Guest Reply Redux says:

    ***This officer (Det. Vassey) is indicted by a Grand Jury for Voluntary Manslaughter in a court of law…with his attorneys evidence as stated below from this article????***

    “Payne says a body mic on one of the other officers reveals what he believes really happened that sunday afternoon.

    He says at some point during the struggle Vassey saw Vidal make a stabbing motion with a pick toward BSL Ofc. John Thomas that was blocked.

    “The next blow comes back, as we described it to Judge Hooks, there was nothing blocking that pick from Ofc. Thomas’s head,” Payne said.

    Payne also said that Vassey at no point said, “I don’t have time for this. Taze him,” as Vidal’s father has claimed.

    Payne says moments after the fatal shot was fired Vassey spoke to Thomas about what had just happened.

    “Det. Vassey says to Det. Thomas, and it’s caught on video, as well, ‘I had no choice,’ and Ofc. Thomas said, ‘I know, I know,'” Payne said.”

    This will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

  • portcity says:

    I’ve heard many comments on the news site from both the family of VICTIM (since this is a CRIMINAL case now) and from the SUSPECTS lawyer. Seems the lawyer wants to have case tainted by the public to hope for a mistrial or something! Don’t really know why else he would be commenting on the case so much. Normally you here ” It’s an ongoing will see that my cleint is innocent”. But this guy is making statements left and right. Let’s say this teenager was in walmart parking lot a started freaking out as two guys black or white, but lets just say black for the heck of it. Teenager says something and starts arguement with guys. They get into a scuffle a kid gets shot by other guy because this teenager had a screwdriver or “PICK”. There would have been no grand jury, just two other guys locked up without bail! You know in prison gaurds are not allowed to have guns and deal with GROWN VERY DANGEROUS CRIMINALS everyday that have “PICKS” when is the last time a guard was killed by “pick” or inmate shot because he had one. This officer over stepped his boundaries and if three officers cannot subdue one 90pd kid with a screwdriver they are not the ones that need to be our serving or “protecting us”.

  • portcity says:

    I didn’t think the lawyer should be giving public statements about this CRIMINAL investigation. Yes all the evidence was giving to the state. The state found that the evidence was enough to possible bring charges. The state then brought this case before a GRAND jury that found enough evidence to charge this man. So somewhere in this situation there is enough evidence that proves the kid should STILL BE ALIVE. I wouldn’t dare call the law if i knew this man was still on a police force, especially if i have an unruley teenager that is acting out!!!

  • jj says:

    Isn’t that what the DA and family has been doing from day one? Did they leave out the part where the SBI hasn’t completed their investigation? Not sure about now, but when I went throught BLT, we were told to ask to be charged in a shooting death. That way once you are found not guilty they can charge you again.

    So, why don’t the people just stop and let him have his day in court.

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