Police officer shoots and kills schizophrenic 18-year-old

Friday, January 10, 2014

Good afternoon:

We have yet another tragic incident to consider in which a police officer shoots and kills a mentally ill person.

CNN reports:

A man calls 911 saying his family needs help. His wife is scared of their schizophrenic son, armed with a screwdriver. One, then two, then three law enforcement officers — all from different agencies — arrive. After the situation calms somewhat, according to the family, a tussle ensues.

What happens next?

In a case this week out of Boiling Spring Lakes, North Carolina, one officer responded by firing his gun, killing 18-year-old Keith Vidal, who was mentally ill.

The teen’s furious family soon take their case public, saying there’s no justification for Sunday’s shooting. Vidal, they say, weighed all of 100 pounds; he was mentally ill, yes, but he was a “good kid.”

The shooter is Byron Vassey, a detective with the Southport (NC), Police Department, which has placed him on administrative leave pending an investigation of the shooting.

The legal test to apply is whether the officer reasonably believed that Keith Vidal was an immediate danger to himself or to others. Writing for the majority of the SCOTUS in Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 396-397 (1989), Chief Justice Rehnquist explained the test as follows:

Determining whether the force used to effect a particular seizure is “reasonable” under the Fourth Amendment requires a careful balancing of ” `the nature and quality of the intrusion on the individual’s Fourth Amendment interests’ ” against the countervailing governmental interests at stake. Id., at 8, quoting United States v. Place, 462 U. S. 696, 703 (1983). Our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence has long recognized that the right to make an arrest or investigatory stop necessarily carries with it the right to use some degree of physical coercion or threat thereof to effect it. See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S., at 22-27. Because “[t]he test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment is not capable of precise definition or mechanical application,” Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U. S. 520, 559 (1979), however, its proper application requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each particular case, including the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight. See Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U. S., at 8-9 (the question is “whether the totality of the circumstances justifie[s] a particular sort of . . . seizure”).

The “reasonableness” of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. See Terry v. Ohio, supra, at 20-22. The Fourth Amendment is not violated by an arrest based on probable cause, even though the wrong person is arrested, Hill v. California, 401 U. S. 797 (1971), nor by the mistaken execution of a valid search warrant on the wrong premises, Maryland v. Garrison, 480 U. S. 79 (1987). With respect to a claim of excessive force, the same standard of reasonableness at the moment applies: “Not every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary in the peace of a judge’s chambers,” Johnson v. Glick, 481 F. 2d, at 1033, violates the Fourth Amendment. The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments — in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving — about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.

As in other Fourth Amendment contexts, however, the “reasonableness” inquiry in an excessive force case is an objective one: the question is whether the officers’ actions are “objectively reasonable” in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation. See Scott v. United States, 436 U. S. 128, 137-139 (1978); see also Terry v. Ohio, supra, at 21 (in analyzing the reasonableness of a particular search or seizure, “it is imperative that the facts be judged against an objective standard”). An officer’s evil intentions will not make a Fourth Amendment violation out of an objectively reasonable use of force; nor will an officer’s good intentions make an objectively unreasonable use of force constitutional. See Scott v. United States, supra, at 138, citing United States v. Robinson, 414 U. S. 218 (1973).

In the Boiling Spring Lakes case, there were three different officers at the scene. The first two didn’t open fire, but Vassey did. His lawyer, W. James Payne told CNN that Keith Vidal attempted to stab one of the officers multiple times with a screwdriver, but the officer was wearing a bulletproof vest, did not request assistance and was not injured.

Keith Vidal’s stepfather, Mark Wilsey, who witnessed the shooting with Vidal’s mother, told CNN that the detective disrupted the situation,

“(He) walks in the room, walks around the corner, (and) says, ‘We don’t have time for this. Tase that kid now. Let’s get him out of here.'”

The North Carolina Bureau of Investigation is investigating this shooting.


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11 Responses to Police officer shoots and kills schizophrenic 18-year-old

  1. neveragain says:

    We don’t have time for this????….that’s what you get paid for…….I don’t understand……even if he was not mentally ill….some people resist arrest and you should use appropriate force……….he should have been an engineer instead…..

  2. ed nelson says:

    Well, maybe the parents were afraid of that mere 100 lbs. little guy, but maybe the parents were only 80lbs. and that brings me to Chief McNamara of the San Jose Police D… In his book, he advised that, even though many of his officers were accomplished martial arts pros… and etc. That, it is not advised to ever engage in physical fights with anybody, because, there isn’t any way to really be sure of an outcome, in the long run, because, little 100 lbs. guys, can be super strong.

    I personally think that one of the problems in these things is, that there seems to be some time ultimatum, such as from above: “Get it done!”

    But how about just starving them out, if it is some kind of hold up?

    How about creating a sound perimeter, and waiting them out?

    Well that isn’t the way they do things.

    If you have a troubled yout, think twice about calling in anybody from any agency to do anything, unless it really is your life threatened, by the kid, because that kid, might not be too socially well developed, but you know the authorities won’t think twice.

  3. colin black says:

    Not only are our national and state mental health systems sadly underfunded, our police approach to almost any situation is overly violent. We are a broken society.

    Americas L E are being stocked with military Humvees anti personel vechicles an even Tanks.

    Your LE Is being militerised openly an the constant drip drip drip of civilian deaths at the hands of your LE.

    Is to induce a pavlovian effect of desentisiseing the American publics view on these events.Untill there so common place they don’t even register.

    Its been happening for decades Ruby Ridge Waco ect
    Infact its working so well an as young minds are always the most malleable.

    We have an entire generation X with Y an Z to follow each progressively more desentisized against violence .

    The I don’t like Mondays shootings when a teenage high school girl opened up fire with a hunting rifle on the Pre School across the street from her home.
    Was treated with shock an awe around the world frigging Songs were written about it.

    Thease days school shootings are becoming common place due to the shift in the tolarance levels .
    Like drugs theres an immunity built up things have to be more an more violent or extreame to even register.

    Mass shootings spree shootings at cinemas army bases malls .Its a World wide ocourance an appears chaotic random .Its not though when one steps back an observes .

    The bell curve of thease shootings an atrosites commited by Goverments L E Milatry Spree Shooters School Shooters Postal shooters ect.

    Its just to expotentialy In growth decade after decade to be without rhyme or reason I M O.

    What that Rhyme or Reasoning Is I don’t know an can only speculate.

    Maybe nature has a fail safe for the planet after all Nature needs a home an Earth is its home.

    It could trigger a self destruct gene within species it feels is a threat to its environment.
    And we would certainly qualify as a destructive species.Not only for other animals we share the planet with.

    But we are poisoning it for our own decendants making it untainable.

    That’s pretty selfish .

    Might explain the mass extinctions in the past where thriveing populations just disappeared.

    Nature just slips in a stupid gene into the offending species.

    An that’s it you cant fix stupid,

  4. Aunt Bea says:

    The mother says “this is what’s wrong with our mental health system”?
    I’d be asking what the hell is wrong with that officer?

    The picture I have painted in my mind is an execution.

    • colin black says:

      The mother says “this is what’s wrong with our mental health system”?
      I’d be asking what the hell is wrong with that officer?

      The picture I have painted in my mind is an execution.

      Well he stated he did not have the time for this.

      Me thinks keeping his weapon un drawn in his holster an not shooting a member of the public already tazed an being restrained by two officers .

      Paperwork required time required = none.

      Now the latter action he chose to follow .Removeing his weapon aiming an killing a restrained member of public.

      Paperwork required = About an acre of rain forrest.

      I M O His concept of time an motion = none.

    • racerrodig says:

      I believe your picture is accurate. An officer gets involved when there is more than enough help….and this kid had been tased several times and probably not resisting at all and this officer “…doesn’t have time…” for this.

      What happened to actual “training?”

  5. Not only are our national and state mental health systems sadly underfunded, our police approach to almost any situation is overly violent. We are a broken society.

  6. colin black says:

    You don’t defend yourself by discharging a firearm into a person being restrained by two officers below you on the ground.

    Its murder plain an simple .

    I cant imagine the greif an guilt over whelming the Parents.

    They called in L E for help an to de escalate a situation where there Son may harm himself or others,

    An they inadvertently summon a severe version of the time police.

    He did not have time for a child squirming an screaming on the floor pinned between two grown men.

    So he executed him.

    I know he had no time for a mentaly ill teenager .

    I pray he gets time to ponder his lack of patience with assisting an serveing the public.

    An his eagerness to murder one of them in front of his traumatised Parents.

  7. bettykath says:


    “According to the report, the first unit on scene was a Boiling Spring Lakes officer who arrived at 12:34 p.m. He was joined shortly after by two additional BSL officers and a Brunswick County Sheriff’s Deputy.

    “The first unit on scene reported a confrontation in the hallway, but told Brunswick County Dispatchers several times that everything was OK.

    “Unit 104 from Southport arrived on the scene at 12:48:41, fourteen minutes after the first officer had already been on scene.

    “Seventy seconds later, Unit 104 radioed out that he had to fire shots at the subject in order to defend himself.”

    “Wilsey said officers had his son down on the ground after the teen was tased a few times and an officer said, “we don’t have time for this.” That’s when Wilsey says the officer shot in between the officers holding the teen down, killing his son.”

    So an incident is under control by 3 officers. Another officer comes in and within a minute shoots the kid b/c “[they] don’t have time for this”.

    The officer who did the shooting should be criminally charged.

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