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Funeral set for mentally ill North Carolina teen shot by police

By Greg Botelho and David Mattingly, CNN
updated 4:17 PM EST, Fri January 10, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Visitation for Keith Vidal is Friday; his funeral will be on Saturday
  • Vidal, who suffered from schizophrenia, was killed by a police detective
  • The detective claims he fired to defend another officer; Vidal's family blames him
  • Family says they'll stay silent now, focusing on "wonderful memories" of Vidal

(CNN) -- The funeral for a mentally ill North Carolina teenager killed by police will take place Saturday, said his family, who refrained from adding to the simmering debate about whether the shooting was justified and instead tried "to celebrate his life."

Friends and family of Keith Vidal were invited to attend visitation services Friday at Brunswick Funeral Home, a short distance away from where the 18-year-old was killed.

Vidal's funeral will start at 1 p.m. Saturday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Southport, North Carolina, his family said Friday in a statement.

"We ask for and appreciate your support for the Vidal-Wilsey family, as they lay their child to rest," the family said. "Your continued prayers and support are greatly needed and appreciated."

Teenager Keith Vidal was shot and killed Sunday. Keith's stepbrother, Mark Ryan Wilsey, said he was in "absolute panic" when his parents called to tell him the news. "I thought I needed to get to my brother's side and protect him from anyone who may harm him." Teenager Keith Vidal was shot and killed Sunday. Keith's stepbrother, Mark Ryan Wilsey, said he was in "absolute panic" when his parents called to tell him the news. "I thought I needed to get to my brother's side and protect him from anyone who may harm him."
'He was a good kid'
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Photos: \'He was a good kid\' Photos: 'He was a good kid'

Their grieving began Sunday, following a 911 call asking for police to help in dealing with a schizophrenic armed with a screwdriver and asking to fight his mother.

"He's not doing very good," said the man on the 911 call. "We've got to get him someplace."

In teen's shooting, who do you believe?

Three law enforcement officers from three different agencies ended up at Vidal's Boiling Spring Lakes home. Family members said the first two were able to calm the situation, but things quickly devolved after the third -- Detective Bryon Vassey from neighboring Southport -- came on the scene.

Soon thereafter, Vidal was killed. His outraged family has called his shooting unconscionable, holding the Southport detective directly responsible. Vassey, through his lawyer W. James Payne, claims he acted as he did fearing there was an imminent and deadly threat to another officer, who they say was in danger of being stabbed by Vidal with the screwdriver.

CNN first learned of the shooting through an iReport sent by a family friend.

Vidal's family, including his stepfather Mark Wilsey, spoke emotionally in the days after the shooting, blasting the Southport detective. But they have been relatively quiet since, even after Payne and the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association offered details that they say explain why the detective did what he did.

And in its statement Friday, the family said it will maintain its silence -- declining "to revisit the specific details" and deciding "to allow time for the investigative process to occur as it should."

In addition to the state Bureau of the Investigation, the district attorney's office for Brunswick County is probing the incident and could decide to press charges.

"We believe that justice for Keith will not be served by trying this case in the news," the family said. "At this time, we have full faith in the judicial system and the ... district attorney's office to investigate and evaluate this case and reveal the true facts surrounding the tragic death."

The Vidal-Wilsey family added that, for now, they will try to focus on the "wonderful memories" they have.

"Keith was very much beloved by his family, friends and classmates," according to the statement. "(The family), and the community at large, need time now to grieve in peace and remember the Keith they knew and loved."

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