North Carolina officer indicted in shooting of mentally ill teen

by Reuters
Tuesday, 4 February 2014 19:45 GMT

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Feb 4 (Reuters) - A North Carolina police officer accused of shooting and killing a teenager with schizophrenia last month has been indicted by a grand jury on a voluntary manslaughter charge, a district attorney said on Tuesday.

The shooting occurred on Jan. 5 in Brunswick County in the eastern part of the state after the family of Keith Vidal, 18, called 911 seeking help with the teen, who they said had a screwdriver and was trying to fight his mother.

A state police investigation cleared two of the three officers who responded to the scene.

But a grand jury indicted Southport Police officer Bryon Vassey on Monday night after hearing hours of testimony from investigators and the officer himself, said District Attorney Jon David.

The prosecutor said he agreed with the panel's decision and will proceed with the manslaughter charge.

"A crime almost certainly occurred," David said, adding it was a case of "a bad shoot" by Vassey.

A judge set Vassey's bond at $50,000 and gave him until Wednesday to turn himself in, David said at a news conference.

Vassey's attorney, James Payne, did not make an immediate statement about the indictment. In a previous interview with CNN, he said his client fired his gun after Vidal tried to stab one of the other officers with the screwdriver.

The case is the second high-profile prosecution against a police officer in North Carolina this year. Last month, a grand jury in Charlotte indicted an officer on a voluntary manslaughter charge in the shooting death of an unarmed former Florida A&M University football player in September 2013. (Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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