February 07, 2014
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A day after a Southport police officer turned himself in on a voluntary manslaughter charge, his lawyer is speaking out.
Attorney James Payne says Det. Bryon Vassey handled the situation that ended in 18-year-old Keith Vidal's death the best he could. Payne says Vassey acted honorably on Jan. 5 when he shot and killed the schizophrenic teen in Boiling Spring Lakes.
Payne says a body mic on one of the other officers reveals what he believes really happened that sunday afternoon.
He says at some point during the struggle Vassey saw Vidal make a stabbing motion with a pick toward BSL Ofc. John Thomas that was blocked.
"The next blow comes back, as we described it to Judge Hooks, there was nothing blocking that pick from Ofc. Thomas's head," Payne said.
Payne also said that Vassey at no point said, "I don't have time for this. Taze him," as Vidal's father has claimed.
Payne says moments after the fatal shot was fired Vassey spoke to Thomas about what had just happened.
"Det. Vassey says to Det. Thomas, and it's caught on video, as well, 'I had no choice,' and Ofc. Thomas said, 'I know, I know,'" Payne said.
Southport Police Chief Jerry Dove says he is meeting with District Attorney Jon David in the next few days to discuss Vassey's employment. Right now, though, he says Vassey is still on paid leave.