Vassey’s reinstatement depends on civil lawsuit outcome

Vassey’s reinstatement depends on civil lawsuit outcome
A poster showing Keith Vidal made by family and friends. (Source: WECT)
A poster showing Keith Vidal made by family and friends. (Source: WECT)

SOUTHPORT, NC (WECT) - Southport police sergeant Bryon Vassey, who was found not guilty on May 6 of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of 18-year-old Keith Vidal, is still suspended without pay pending the outcome of a civil lawsuit.

The Estate of Keith Vidal, represented by Mary Wilsey, Vidal's mother, filed the suit in December 2015.

Vassey, in his official and individual capacity, the City of Southport, the City of Boiling Spring Lakes and Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram were named as the defendants.

The suit seeks damages in excess of $25,000. It claims the defendants' actions were negligent and violated Vidal's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The suit also claims Vassey used excessive force, and that the City of Southport failed to properly train Crisis Intervention Techniques, which are used to prevent excessive use of force in situations involving persons suffering from mental health conditions.

Click here to read the full lawsuit.

Due to the lawsuit claiming the defendants violated Vidal's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, it will now go to federal court.

Vassey was found not guilty after a 14-day bench trial, during which the judge heard numerous testimonies about the day Vidal died.

Vidal's parents called authorities on Jan. 5, 2014 asking for help, saying their son was having a schizophrenic episode and had a screwdriver in his hand.

Vassey was the last officer to respond to the scene, and fired a single shot at Vidal while another officer worked to restrain the teen on the floor of the home.

Vassey's defense attorneys justified his use of deadly force by saying he was protecting himself and other officers at the scene.

During a news conference following his not-guilty verdict, Vassey simply stated, "I'm thankful for God, my family, and I'm thankful for the justice system."

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