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September 21, 2014

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Grand jury refuses to indict cop who killed unarmed veteran

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Las Vegas Metro Police Department

A screen shot from a video of Sheriff Doug Gillespie to Metro Police employees regarding the Clark County district attorney’s decision to take the Stanley Gibson officer-involved shooting case to a grand jury for investigation.

A Clark County grand jury decided Wednesday not to indict Metro Police officer Jesus Arevalo for his involvement in the December 2011 fatal shooting of a Las Vegas man, according to a police union statement.

Stanley Gibson, a 43-year-old Gulf War veteran, was shot and killed by Arevalo on Dec. 12, 2011, after several officers responded to a burglary call at a condominium complex. Gibson, who was unarmed at the time, was said to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, his wife said.

In October, the Clark County district attorney convened a grand jury to hear Arevalo’s case and potentially decide whether criminal charges were warranted. Grand jury proceedings are closed to the public and only become part of the public record if an indictment is returned.

Las Vegas Police Protective Association Executive Director Chris Collins said he was relieved but not surprised the grand jury did not indict Arevalo.

“We have maintained since (the night of the shooting) that the shooting was not criminal,” Collins said.

Collins called the shooting a tragedy and said mistakes were made by officers, but because there was no intent, he said the shooting was not criminal.

“You must have intent to commit a crime. There was no intent … It was police officers who were doing their job and a chain of events took place that led to (Gibson’s) death,” Collins said.

Gibson was shot after police responded to a burglary call at a northwest valley condominium near Smoke Ranch Road and Rainbow Boulevard.

After being approached by police, Gibson, who was allegedly disoriented and distraught, refused to surrender and allegedly rammed his white Cadillac into a patrol car, according to police records.

Officers used two patrol cars to box in Gibson’s car, pinning him there for more than an hour. When Gibson continued to try and drive away and ignored police orders, officers developed a plan to use a beanbag round fired from a shotgun to break a window on Gibson’s car and then fill the cabin with pepper spray, forcing him out.

When the beanbag round was fired, Arevalo fired seven live rounds from his rifle, striking and killing Gibson.

Attorney Andre Lagomarsino, who is representing Stanley Gibson’s mother Celeste in a civil suit against Metro, Arevalo and two other officers, said it was hard to comment on the grand jury’s finding because there was no way of knowing what evidence was presented.

“We don’t know what was or wasn't presented to the grand jury,” he said. “I think that having the grand jury in secret only served to increase the outrage of the public and its interest in knowing what went on (that night).”

Lagomarsino said the evidence he’s seen shows that police had Gibson surrounded and that he posed no threat to the officers or anyone else.

“From what we’ve learned so far, there is absolutely no justification to kill Stanley Gibson inside of 30 minutes from when they stopped him,” Lagomarsino said.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, who brought the case to seek a criminal indictment, will not comment on the grand jury's actions, according to a spokeswoman.

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  1. Chris...there WAS intent...it is MALICE that is missing. This would only have been a crime under Nevada law if there was an act and intent (with malice) OR criminal negligence! The civil lawsuit will let us know what the D.A. didn't let us know. Just how close was criminal negligence?

    Did anyone know if other persons may have been in the car at the time of the shooting? That is pretty scary too!

    it is nice to see that the PPA stands behind members ... The PMSA denies representation and votes some of them (me) out for 'fiduciary' reasons...then they sign false affidavits!

  2. Here's how you save face when you really screw up: you hide behind a union; you refuse to openly and candidly discuss your actions and facts surrounding the screw-up; you pass the ball to your partner, the DA; the DA refuses to bring charges in open court, but rather resorts to a secretive Grand Jury process; a deputy DA, who could easily indite a turnip, fails to make a case and a no-bill is returned by the Grand Jury; the record is then sealed. Results - The Sheriff is off the hook; all Metro officers are off the hook; the DA is off the hook; the jurors are under a gag order not to talk; the Gibson family and the public will never know the facts, will never know the evidence that was/was not presented, and will never know what happened in this event. Way to game the system guys.

  3. Dan is right, this is basically a white-wash with the intent to derail the wrongful death lawsuit that is sure to follow.

    The best way to bring Metro back in line is to take every single award from a civil suit from their pension fund. This would remove the incentive for the county to set aside these cases and I would bet peer pressure would kick into high gear.

  4. I believe the Sgt and Lt on scene are more responsible than the officer who fired. They were told to sit tight and wait for more on scene. Instead they came up with the bean bag, pepper spray plan instead of waiting. Unfortunately since the radio system Gillespie bought doesn't work the officer never heard what the Lt and Sgt planned to do. He thought the guy in the car shot out the window so he fired.

    Having been on the local grand jury before I have a lot more faith in it than most. If they didn't indict the DA's case was pretty weak. It doesn't mean the victim is the villain either. The DA presents the case sans any defense input. If the witnesses can't convince the grand jury it's got no chance in court.

  5. @Brianlv (Robert Hess) - I'm not sure you fully understand how the Grand Jury operates.

    The DA's office can cherry pick from any or all "evidence" that it has - or not produce any evidence to the Grand Jury at all. The DA can say anything; hear-say or not. It can show any evidence or not. It can state any opinion as fact. And we all know that this is not the case in open court, where only non-hearsay is allowed, evidence is produced according to a strict set of complex rules, and only the facts are allowed. And if evidence or facts are distorted, the media and public will "jump all over it."

    A Defendant certainly has the right to appear before the Grand Jury to state his/her side of things (although most Attorneys recommend against it, knowing the process is so biased against a defendant). Many Defendants do appear and throw a large monkey wrench in the DA's one-sided arguments... I'm not sure where you got the idea that a defendant can not be part of a Grand Jury process.

    The points I intended to make with my first post are:

    (1) The Grand Jury only sees exactly what the DA wants them to see; nothing more, nothing less. Therefore, there can be no confidence at all that this jury will arrive at a fair and impartial result - this because the only input they get is completely biased by design.

    (2) The Grand Jury process is totally secretive and (IMHO) should never be allowed when dealing with public officials accused of any wrong-doing. The Tax-Paying public's right to know and the ability to have absolute confidence in the Judicial system outweighs any other factors.

    (3) The biased-by-design Grand Jury process is a very poor substitute for an open court preliminary hearing in front of a Judge.

    Let me say that I am a great proponent of law and order, but it's pretty clear that, at least in this case, the DA's department has donned its silky night clothes and is firmly bedded with Metro (and it's union bosses) for the duration.

  6. @By RebelJedi (on the non-trusted commenter page) said "You see a mistake is NOT criminal. Period."

    Yup, that's great logic there Mr. Jedi. Let's see how it holds up.

    A person drinks, drives, kills a pedestrian. The driver clearly made a mistake by drinking too much and then driving. By your reasoning, it can't be a criminal action.

    A person thinks he is defending himself when he sucker punches a drunk taunter in a casino. The drunk is felled by the blow, cracks open his skull on the floor, then expires. The "defender" clearly made a mistake in delivering that sucker punch. But by your logic, there was no crime.

    A person beats a child to death. This is clearly a mistake, so, again, it can't be criminal by your overly broad definition because, as you stated - "a mistake is NOT criminal. Period."

    Your mistake, however, being your faulty reasoning of how the law works, certainly should be a crime.

  7. Another in a long line of Keystone Cop routines by Metro...

    There ought to be enough material by now for a full-blown movie version, like the Police Academy flicks.

    Every time one of these FUBAR's occur, I'm reminded of the Enterprise Rent-a-car ads...
    'Sounds expensive!'

    Amazing to me that Sheriff Doug retains his position...
    because there is most certainly a 'leadership vacuum' @ Metro. Most of these messes point to a lack of proper training & technique & M.O., rather than any intent of malice by individual officers (though not exclusively so).

    All that said...
    A tough job, being a cop in Sin City; how do you NOT become jaded?

  8. "You must have intent to commit a crime. There was no intent " It was police officers who were doing their job and a chain of events took place that led to (Gibson's) death," [Las Vegas Police Protective Association Executive Director Chris] Collins said."

    Then why does Metro keep arresting, and our DAs keep prosecuting, parents after tragedies like their kids dying in fires? Because of negligence? Why were these murderers We the people entrust with badges not charged with at least manslaughter??

    Arevalo aimed his weapon and pulled the trigger multiple times. That a jury of citizens refused to indict is small comfort. This one seems to have been a tool of the prosecution, as the attorney for Gibson's pointed out -- "We don't know what was or wasn't presented to the grand jury. . .I think that having the grand jury in secret only served to increase the outrage of the public and its interest in knowing what went on (that night)."

    Now Gibson's mother is on her own for justice, with bar and bench eager to give her as much as she can afford, while her son's killers are free to keep killing with We the people's blessing.

    "Makes you feel ashamed to live in a land where justice is a game." -- Bob Dylan "Hurricane"

  9. "The Grand Jury is not any different from the Coroners Inquest in that all of the evidence is chosen by the DA who is scared to death of making metro angry."

    antigov -- except that coroners inquests are not secret proceedings.

    "Is this 1984, or what?" -- the Honorable Alex Kozinski, now chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in the Unabomber case (2001)

  10. No intent? Did the grand jury have the option of indicting for INVOLUNTARY manslaughter?