Monday, January 6, 2014

These Situations Go Wrong A Lot, and Often The Police Have Poor Choices

Frequently, the police are responding to a call for help from a family with a mentally ill member.  Sometimes the police are properly afraid for their lives, or at least, you can see why, without any prior knowledge of the situation, they have good reason to be afraid. 

This situation from the January 5, 2014 Daily Caller has a really chilling statement that, if true, qualifies at least as manslaughter:
Two North Carolina parents are in shock after local police shot and killed their 18-year-old son in their own home, while they watched helplessly.

The family called police because they were worried about their son, Keith Vidal, who is schizophrenic and suffers from depression, according to local news. Vidal, armed with a small screwdriver, was apparently having a psychotic episode. Mark Wilsey, Vidal’s father, called the authorities to help deal with the situation.

An officer from the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and another from the Boiling Spring Lakes police department showed up to the house soon after. Eventually, a third officer from the Southport police department entered the home as well, and ordered the use of tasers to subdue Vidal. According to Wilsey, Vidal was pinned on the ground by two of the officers when a third said, “we don’t have time for this,” and shot Vidal, killing him.
I really want to believe that Wilsey in some way misunderstood what was said, or has left something out.  The alternative -- that an officer shot and killed someone who was pinned to the ground -- is too shocking to accept without more evidence.


John Cunningham said...

come on Clayton, open your eyes. the police in this country have become an occupying army, way trigger-happy. I don't find this story surprising at all.

Clayton Cramer said...

Trigger-happy would explain an officer firing on a kid with a knife. In some big cities, delay can be fatal. What is described here is a deliberate murder because it was taking too long to deal with the situation. That is what I find so shocking that I want to believe that something is being left out or misrepresented.

Andy in San Diego and Elsewhere said...

Fullerton, CA: "You see these hands? These hands are gonna fuck you up" And then, Kelly Thomas is dead after a very, very prolonged assault by Fullerton PD officers (they're on trial now)

This murder of the 90lb kid in NC does not surprise me at all.

Clayton Cramer said...

Yes, I think I posted about that situation in Orange County. That was a case where there was plenty of evidence that the police officers were out of control and engaged in criminal behavior.

Bob Qat said...

In law enforcement, tasers are termed "less often lethal" but they can kill sometimes.

I want to believe the police were using the taser mentioned in the source story to "[re-]shoot the kid." Sometimes after launching the darts into the perpetrator, police will re-shock, if the perpetrator is still struggling.

My heart goes out to the parents of the mother and father.

John Cunningham said...

this story from the local paper has more details==

the kid was 5-3, weighed 90 pounds. two cops and his father had him down on the ground, when a cop who had arrived a minute earlier shot between them, killing he kid. the shooter said that he didn't have time for this.

sounds to me like cold-blooded murder one.

LCB said...

I wonder though, if the new officer thought he was grabbing HIS taser and pulled his gun instead. It's happened before.

That would reduce the charge to manslaughter in my mind.

Clayton Cramer said...

Yup. There have been a couple of incidents of late where police officers went for their Taser, grabbed their pistol, and the similarities were enough to not notice. Some departments are now having officers move their Tasers to a location that makes it far less reflexive.

Kirk Parker said...

John: wow, what a poorly-written article--but if it really went like that, yeah murder one plus enhancement for doing it while wearing a badge does seem to be warranted.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Search "Stephen Dinnan" for another horror story with cops (but no guns).