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December 19, 2014

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Source: Metro blames police radio for officer firing on unarmed veteran

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Leila Navidi

Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie speaks during an editorial board meeting with Las Vegas Sun staff inside his office in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2012.

Emerging information about the shooting death of Gulf War veteran Stanley Gibson implicates Metro’s radio system as a key reason an officer shot Gibson last December as he sat unarmed in his car.

In late October, Sheriff Doug Gillespie announced the department would be getting rid of a $42 million radio system installed in 2010 partly because of impaired communication between officers.

The Gibson shooting occurred in the early morning hours of Dec. 12, 2011. Police responded to a call of a person trying to get into a northwest valley condominium. The caller gave police a description of the suspected intruder and his vehicle. While police were still on scene, the man — Gibson — returned in the white Cadillac. When officers approached him, an altercation ensued.

Surrounded by Metro vehicles and officers, Gibson would not exit his car as police were commanding. By some news accounts, Gibson was a 100 percent disabled Army veteran prone to delusions, had sought medical assistance days earlier and was mentally confused and trying to find his way home at the time of the shooting.

Metro supervisors came up with a plan to shoot out a car window with a non-lethal beanbag round, then fill the interior with pepper spray. But sources tell the Las Vegas Sun that as officers made plans to break Gibson’s car window with a beanbag round, Officer Jesus Arevalo, who was providing cover with an AR-15 rifle, did not hear the plans with his police radio.

So when police fired the beanbag round into Gibson’s car, a source said, Arevalo fired almost immediately into the car thinking Gibson was firing on officers. Gibson was shot several times and died. He was unarmed.

A spokesman for the police department said Friday Metro would not comment on the case due to an ongoing grand jury investigation that began in mid-October. Prosecutors are making a case for a possible indictment to the grand jury, which is closed to the public.

Attorney Cal Potter, who is representing Gibson’s family, said he has heard a similar story about Metro’s radio system and its possible culpability in the shooting, said Friday it sounded “plausible.”

Potter hasn’t filed a suit on behalf of the family yet, he added, because he is awaiting more information from Metro and the outcome of the grand jury investigation.

“We’ve been trying to get reports for months but we get nothing (from Metro),” he added.

Gibson’s mother filed a lawsuit shortly after the shooting.

In late October, Gillespie announced Metro would dump its 2-year-old Desert Sky radio system due to dropped calls and dead zones. The news comes at a tough fiscal time, with Clark County and Las Vegas – Metro’s two major funding sources – still dealing with dwindling tax revenues from a down economy.

Police officers speaking to the Sun on the condition of anonymity say they frequently talk to each other with cell phones because it is more reliable than the police radio. The sheriff has said officers used the radio an estimated 50,000 times each day.

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  1. sounds plausible? really? they came up with a plan to shoot the windows out and only told the other officers about it via a radio broadcast and then didnt confirm receipt of the message? This guys radio wasnt working but he was assigned assault rifle cover duty?
    Maybe it did go down like that. We wudnt know it from this article.

  2. Metro will never say one of their own is at fault. The question remains, who will police the police?

  3. C'mon, man!

    This is a really, REALLY transparent & shallow attempt by Sheriff Doug to get the dough to pay for his new radio system...
    I'm not necessarily opposed to the upgrade, but come ON here; admit YOU screwed the pooch by buying the WRONG SYSTEM to begin with, and that YES, it was a colossal waste of taxpayer money that now needs to be flushed in favor of purchasing the proper equipment...and that this had ZERO, NADA, NOTHING AT ALL to do with the shooting of Stanley Gibson.
    Shameful.

  4. I've talked to officers about that incident and that's what they say went down. The Lt and Sgt who were told to hold tight instead came up with the beanbag plan but didn't make sure everyone knew in part because the radios are kaka.

    This goes to Gillespie. He needs to be responsible for this. He knew the radio were and still are kaka. He should have taken action much sooner to rectifiy the situation. It's a public and officer safety issue. Instead he waits until something bad happens to do anything. Gillespie needs to resign.

  5. Radio! Really! That's special. What about the officers who have eyes on the victim? The car window were up, not down. They had eyes on Stanley Gibson. They could tell when Mr. Gibson moved his hand, his arm, his head. The Radio, that is pure Cow Do-Do!

    Look, the officers have difficult job protecting the citizens of Las Vegas. In this case the Police Officers did not use good judgement. The officer who shot and killed Mr. Gibson made a mistake.

    It looks like the Las Vegas Police Department is 100% at fault in the death of Stanley Gibson. It's now a matter of how many zeros the City will have to pay.

    As for officer Jesus Arevalo, it best he is not placed in active patrol for some time. Maybe never! That would be best for the citizens, for the department, and for Jesus Arevalo.

  6. All right. How about a reenactment of the whole situation at that location, oh my I would "CSI" it will all the radio's and see what happens. I wonder what will be heard? Logic would be interesting.

  7. If Arevalo was covering Mr. Gibson he would know that Gibson wasn't firing on officers as he claims. Metro has a long, proven history of lying to the public (even when they haven't done wrong) so NOTHING they state should be believed. Arevalo is a scumbag with a history of complaints who needs to be punished instead of enjoying an extended paid vacation.

  8. It doesn't seem to amaze me that now LVMPD Sheriff Doug Gillespie is blaming the death of Gulf War Veteran Stanley Gibson on faulty 40 million dollars worth of communications equipment. Let me get this straight there were 27 LVMPD Officers on the scene and only one LVMPD Officer fired a weapon. Officer Jesus Arevalo didn't even use his side arm; he deployed an AR15 high powered rifle and squeezed the trigger 1, 2, 3,4,5,6, 7 times. This is the same LVMPD Officer that has reprimands in his file, and this is the same Sheriff that doesn't know how to spend our tax dollars. Whatever the story is its negligent homicide or homicides pick one and move on.

  9. "Emerging infomation" ... Come on Joe, did it take this long to come up with the story that the radios were not working? If they weren't working that night then why wait for all of the drama of a grand jury and public pressure?

    And why is it, 'sources of information' and not the sheriff himself?

    This is a 'cover' story and distraction from the massive issues that continue to be ignored. Over 600 rounds were fired on Chartered Circle a few years ago. Was anyone held accountable for that situation? Why is a rifle even out of the car? Who was ever taught to use a bean bag to blow out a window? "Contain and slow the action on the scene folks"...but rush Gillespie out the door of the sheriff's office before he does more damage in the community and destroys more careers.

  10. "Metro supervisors came up with a plan to shoot out a car window with a non-lethal beanbag round, then fill the interior with pepper spray. But sources tell the Las Vegas Sun that as officers made plans to break Gibson's car window with a beanbag round, Officer Jesus Arevalo, who was providing cover with an AR-15 rifle, did not hear the plans with his police radio."

    The radio didn't pull that trigger, Arevalo did. Nothing changes the fact he shot and killed an unarmed man sitting in his car who had harmed no one.

    "Metro will never say one of their own is at fault. The question remains, who will police the police?"

    JerryWayne -- excellent point! Since the police work for us, and it's obvious Metro is incapable of policing itself, it's up to We the people to do it. Of course that's only if We're tired of waiting for Metro's current citizens' review board to grow a pair.

    "The real question is why the officer was covering the suspect with an assault rifle when there was no indication of violence."

    mwryder55 -- another excellent post. Going by my own encounter with Metro's thugs we allow to wear badges, they are arrogant and disrespectful. Perhaps it's time they learned to fear us instead of the other way around.

    "The LVPD is claiming Mr. Gibson died a year ago because of a faulty communication system that never worked properly from the day it was installed, less than 2 years ago, and nearly a decade since Homeland Security recognized communications as its top procurement priority. Does anyone notice a complete and total lack of accountability in this scenario?"

    blueboy -- first, since Las Vegas doesn't have its own police force, it's LVMPD. Your point about how a new $42 million system doesn't work is valid and needs to go to the next level. Like why so extravagantly expensive, and why is there no mention of what the provider is doing to fix the problem. After all this is paid for by the taxpayers, not Metro. Like the inevitable wrongful death finding -- so long as officers like this aren't culled from the pack, with all responsibility put on him with a criminal prosecution for at least manslaughter, nothing will change.

    "Let me get this straight there were 27 LVMPD Officers on the scene and only one LVMPD Officer fired a weapon. Officer Jesus Arevalo didn't even use his side arm; he deployed an AR15 high powered rifle and squeezed the trigger 1, 2, 3,4,5,6, 7 times. This is the same LVMPD Officer that has reprimands in his file, and this is the same Sheriff that doesn't know how to spend our tax dollars."

    stevewsanson -- thanx for the details. If these facts are true every citizen here should be up in arms about this.

    "If the exercise of constitutional rights will thwart the effectiveness of a system of law enforcement, then there is something very wrong with that system." -- Escobedo v. State of Illinois, 378 U.S. 478, 490 (1964)

  11. Where is the REFUND FOR THE 2010 RADIO SYSTEM? If no refund, sue for judgment. FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP again. The Sheriff clearly has excessive budgetary authority or he'd be interested in recouping the financial losses from the "radio problem."

    Why would ANY LEO use aggression and force on someone in their own vehicle? The logic is a stupid as a homeowner being attacked at home and the attackers don't want the homeowner to defend self.

    The ONLY course of action would have been to let the driver / victim drive away. Follow him home or where ever he drove to. Unless the driver attacked someone first, there is NO REASON TO ASSAULT HIM. Suspicion that the victim was a suspect is just not enough.

  12. I am sure that scumbag, lowlife POS Police Union President Chris Collins came up with this appalling and insulting excuse. Metro will do just about anything to protect dirty cops!

  13. Its now very clear how truly corrupt Doug Gillespie really is. As bad as Joe Arpaio is down in Maricopa County, Arizona, Gillespie's department makes them look like saints. Just wait, when the next Metro cop is accused of killing his wife or girlfriend, Gillespie will make sure he is protected and the victim gets villified!

  14. "It's time for Clark County to get it's own police force. Just like Henderson and North Las Vegas. That way the Chief of Police would be held accountable to the Clark County Commissioners."

    Wolfdog -- you should learn where you live. Clark County does have "it's [sic] own police force." Metro is it, it's the Sheriff's department here, and it is accountable to the County Commission. City police chiefs are accountable to city councils, not counties.

    "Fear is the foundation of most governments." - John Adams "Thoughts on Government" (1776)

  15. So,a faulty radio caused the shooting when the person giving commands is standing right next to the officer who murdered Stanley Gibson? Wow,I didn't know a radio was required when you are standing less than 10 FEET APART.Please,the GOOD SHERIFF AND THE CORRUPT UNION are doing another unthinkable cover up,just like Erik Scott.Only thing is Folks,there are videos of this,and no malfunction from the people that took them.Sheriff,I am enjoying watching you twist,turn and SQUIRM your way out of this one.

    Jeffrey W Jarvis
    U.S.M.C.

  16. If he continues to be allowed to serve as Sheriff, Doug Gillespie will take the abuses of his office to the same degree as Arpaio has done down in Arizona. Its only a matter of time. How much more proof does our county government and the Justice Department need to see how corrupt Sheriff Gillespie really is?

  17. Sheriff Doug Gillespie is really clutching for straws on this one. If it was the radio, it would have been revealed quickly after the shooting occurred. It wasn't one of his excuses at the time. Now he wants us taxpayers to buy him a new radio system so he now has the excuse. Doesn't cut it with me. The radio system is probably crap, then make the company make good on it or sue them and get our money back and buy a new one. How about the officer that shot Eric Scott in the back 4 times while he was on the ground? Maybe he'll blame his Dick Tracy radio on that too. I really think our police officers in Metro are great but I also think they need new leadership.

  18. @PepeRoni: I dare you to say that to faces of Gibson's family. Im sure you will crying about rules then too right?

  19. I want to believe this but in light of past actions and statements by Metro it seems painfully transparent and obvious it may not be. When you add up Metros apparent resistance to any kind of effective oversight, refusal to participate in any process intended to arrive at conclusions independent of them, and actions seemingly intended to deflect, avoid and sidestep any responsibility for the many questionable shootings over the past years it is likely this is just another ploy.

    It is a terrible shame that we have come to the point where we have to question the motives and actions of our police department. It seems they hide behind their union, manipulate the system and use the blue wall to put themselves above the law and opposite the citizens.

    I hope I'm completely wrong. It would help if Metro would take the actions necessary to show the citizens of Clark Co how and why this isn't true, but I'm not hearing or reading anything like that.