Saturday, September 23, 2023

EMTs testify in day four of Bryon Vassey trial

Bryon Vance Vassey
Bryon Vance Vassey

Emergency vehicles were already on standby outside the home of 18-year-old Keith Vidal, shortly after his stepfather called police for help.

Two emergency medical technicians – Tyler Johnson and Shannon Bennett – testified they were outside the home when Bryon Vassey, who is accused of fatally shooting Vidal, first arrived at the President Road home on Jan. 5, 2014. A bench trial in the voluntary manslaughter case resumed in it’s fourth day in Brunswick County Superior Court on Friday.

Both Johnson and Bennett testified that as Vassey casually walked to Vidal’s home, he stated, “I’m here to kick ass and take names.”

Johnson, who was at the time a captain with the Boiling Spring Lakes Fire Department, said he was off duty that day but responded to the “psychiatric patient call” in his personal vehicle. It was the third time he had responded to a call at the home for Vidal.

Officer John Thomas was already on scene, speaking with Vidal inside the family home when, Johnson said, he first stepped inside. Johnson said the officer waved for him to stay back, so he stepped into the door way until Deputy Samantha Lewis-Chavis arrived.

At that point, he had walked back outside the home and spoke with Bennett, a firefighter and EMT with Sunny Point Fire and Emergency Services. Shortly after Vassey, the third officer at the scene, walked up to the home. Johnson said he knew Vassey through work as a rescue emergency medical person in Southport. The two would occasionally respond to situations together, Johnson said.

“He approached the house and asked me to check him on scene, that he was having issues getting out on the radio,”  Johnson said. “He walked up on the porch and made the statement, he was there to kick ass and take names.”

Bennett testified to hearing the same statement. He recalled Vassey’s demeanor when arriving on scene as “just casual.” 

“He didn’t seem quick or anything else,” Bennett said.

Johnson said he went back into the home when he heard Chavis’ Taser go off.

“I heard the Taser deploy and I heard what sounded like someone hit a wall,” Johnson said. “I entered the residence at that time…I got about 20 steps. I heard officer Thomas say hit him again to deputy Lewis. Shortly there after there was a very loud noise from my left side, which is where Officer Vassey was standing,” Johnson said.

Both Shannon and Bennett said they heard Vassey’s gunshot within “seconds” of him arriving on scene. Johnson said he treated Vidal after the shooting as Bennett handed gear to medical staff in the home.

“He had an entrance wound on one side. There was no exit wound. We could see but he had a very large hematoma on the other side,” Johnson said. “We initially didn’t have a pulse. When we got a pulse, we repacked him and got him on the ambulance.”

Vidal was loaded into a Brunswick County EMS ambulance to be taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Bennett and Johnson stayed on scene.

Before testimony from the EMTs on Friday, Chavis resumed her testimony in Vassey’s trial. Chavis said she had seen Keith as a child. Upon cross examination by the defense, Chavis testified that she had been best friends with Vidal’s older sister until her death in 2007.

At the time of the incident, Chavis said did not she recognize Vidal or his mother. When she knew Vidal’s sister, they had not been living at the President Road home.

Testimony will continue Monday morning likely from Vidal’s mother, Mary Wilsey.

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