Cops called to help schizophrenic teen tase and shoot him dead

Once again a 911 call to seek help for a mentally ill individual leads to a police shooting

Published January 8, 2014 9:21PM (EST)

                                (<a href=''>Trinacria Photo</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
(Trinacria Photo via Shutterstock)

A 2012 study into police use of deadly force found that as many as half of the individuals killed by police gunfire suffered from mental illness. This past weekend saw the pattern repeated, and a schizophrenic 18-year-old in North Carolina was left dead at the hands of police trigger-happiness.

Police in Boing Springs Lakes were called by the family of Keith Vidal when the 90-pound teen, in a schizophrenic episode, threatened his mother with a screwdriver. As MSNBC reported, two officers had already restrained Vidal when a third officer arrived and shot the young man in cold blood. As MSNBC reported on a statement from Vidal's father, Mark Wilsey:

According to Wilsey, as the first two officers were restraining Vidal, the third officer walked into the family’s house and said “I don’t have time for this. Tase him. Let’s get him out of here,” Wilsey said. At that point, one of the officers used a stun gun on Vidal. The young man hit the ground and “this guy shot him,” Wilsey said.

Vidal was taken to a local hospital where he was declared dead.

When Wilsey asked why the officer had shot the teen, he said the officer replied, “Well, I’m protecting my officers.”

“He reached right up, shot this kid point-blank, with all intent to kill,” Wilsey said. “Keith was not threatening anybody, Keith did not want any part of it. He was having a bad day,” Wilsey said. “He was flat out murdered, there was no need for deadly force. No reason.”

A state investigation has now been launched into the teen's death.

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Mental Illness North Carolina Police Police Brutality Police Shooting Schizophrenia