BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The trial involving a former Southport police sergeant is underway in Brunswick County.
Brunswick County Judge Richard Brown heard opening statements for the bench trial from both prosecutors and Vassey's defense team.
Prosecutors said in court Tuesday that Vassey used "excessive force" when responding to Keith Vidal's home and said the shooting took place less than two minutes after his arrival.
The defense said Vassey was justified in the shooting because he was protecting Officer John Thomas.
Court went into a brief recess on Tuesday around 11 a.m.
Vassey is charged with voluntary manslaughter after he allegedly shot and killed Vidal at his home on President Drive on Jan. 5, 2014.
Vidal's parents reportedly called police for help because he was suffering from a schizophrenic episode and carrying a screwdriver in his hand.
Brown ordered extra security for Tuesday's trial. Family and friends from both side have been told to not have any contact during the course of the trial.
Mark Wilsey, Vidal's stepfather, was the first witness called to the stand.
Wilsey said he raised Vidal since he was 2-years-old and described him as a good kid. He said he started to see changes in Vidal when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2013. Wilsey testified his stepson didn't like taking his medicine because it made him feel like a "zombie."
Wilsey also said law enforcement had been called to their house a couple of times prior to the day of his death because he was having a "bad day."
911 recordings indicate Wilsey told dispatchers, "He wants to fight his mother, he's got a screwdriver, he's not doing good, she's scared to death of him."
Wilsey said he didn't want to call police, but he felt Vidal needed to be escorted to the hospital to seek treatment.
According to court testimony, Officer John Thomas with the Boiling Spring Lakes Police Department was the first to respond to the scene.
Audio recordings from Thomas' body microphone reflect conversations with Vidal.
"You're being violent, Keith," said Wilsey. "We can't do this violent stuff."
Deputy Samantha Lewis with the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office was the second person to respond to the home on the day of the shooting.
According to court testimony, a scuffle ensued between Thomas and Vidal. Moments later, Vassey arrived.
Vassey reportedly instructed the two other law enforcement officers to tase Vidal, who still had a screwdriver in his hand.
Audio recordings show Vassey fired a single gun shot.
When Wilsey asked Vassey why he shot his son, he said because he had a weapon.