The district attorney of Brunswick County, North Carolina told reporters at a press conference Monday afternoon that state authorities are investigating the death of Keith Vidal, an 18-year-old schizophrenic who was shot and killed by a police officer in his own home during an emergency response situation.
Vidal’s parents, who witnessed the shooting, protested the 2:00 p.m. press conference, saying in no uncertain terms that an officer of the law had murdered their son in cold blood. They also expressed fears about a possible police cover up, and said the district attorney’s office had banned them from attending the press conference.
“Everyone is committed to going wherever the truth leads,” said District Attorney Jon David. “This is now an investigation.” (RELATED: Parents call police for help, cops show up and kill their 18-year-old son)
David confirmed that the State Bureau of Investigations was looking into the incident, which involved officers from three different municipalities: Brunwick County, Boiling Spring Lakes and Southport. He did not reveal the three officers’ names or whether they had been placed on leave, but encouraged their departments to answer those questions if any public records requests are filed. He said his thoughts and prayers were with the family of the deceased, and promised justice for Vidal.
Prior to the press conference, Vidal’s family was incensed, however. They claimed that David didn’t want them disturbing the conference, and had prohibited them from attending. David told reporters that he had already met with the family–and visited the scene of the crime–and had promised to speak with them again after the conference.
Vidal’s father and mother — who were joined outside the press conference by other family members — gave new details of what happened.
According to father Mark Wilsey, Vidal suffered from depression and schizophrenia, but was never aggressive or dangerous. They have called police in the past to help get their son to the emergency room in times of need, and the family had a good relationship with the Boiling Springs Lake police department.
This time, the officer they knew was eventually joined by two other officers, a man and a woman, from the other departments. The new male officer — who has not yet been named — tased Vidal, according to Wilsey. The other officers then attempted to restrain Vidal, while the third officer discharged his gun.
“Between 5 and 10 seconds of him walking in my house, my son was dead,” said Wilsey.
Vidal was holding a screw driver when he was tased, but the family said he was not capable of hurting anyone with it.
The family also noted that Vidal, a high school senior who had just turned 18, was a scrawny young man weighing only 90 pounds.
Wilsey said that the officer’s shot had put everyone at risk, including the other two officers and other family members.
“He put his officers in danger, he put my husband in danger, and he put myself in danger,” said Vidal’s mother.