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March 5, 2015

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New police review panel to hear case involving fatal shooting of unarmed veteran

A recently revamped coroner’s inquest process will get its first test run in late February with the case of 43-year-old Gulf War veteran Stanley Gibson, who was shot and killed by a Metro Police officer in December 2011.

The first police fatality public review hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 28 at the county commission chambers in the government building downtown.

In a letter dated Wednesday, District Attorney Steve Wolfson informed County Manager Don Burnette there would be no criminal prosecution of the officers involved and asked Burnette to schedule a fact-finding review.

Gibson was shot and killed by Metro Officer Jesus 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.

A grand jury convened late last year declined to indict Arevalo.

The February hearing will be the first under the new review process, which replaced the controversial coroner’s inquest.

Clark County commissioners approved the changes earlier this month. The new process moves hearings out of the courtroom and into the county commission chambers and does away with the panel of pseudo-jurors that heard cases under the coroner’s inquest process.

During the fact-finding review hearing, a prosecutor from the district attorney’s office will make a presentation on the essential facts of the case, which may include testimony from the police officer charged with investigating the officer-involved shooting. The prosecutor may call other “relevant” witnesses, who can be questioned by the presiding officer overseeing the hearing and an ombudsman, who will represent the interest of the victim’s family and the public.

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 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 to 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.

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  1. What a farce this will be. The DA has already determined the outcome at the grand jury. Gibson's family is SOL for any civil action now.

  2. Anyone who understands what PTSD is and the triggers to an acute reaction should understand Gibson's response.

    The issue for me is how many police officers also suffer from PTSD as a result of their work or background?

    How many police have an addiction to the adrenalin they pump in the line of duty? The frequency of a normal bodily reaction could lead to addiction, which they can't control given their profession. Fear in a young officer can prime the pump.

    I offer no excuses because I can understand both sides from the medical side. However, I do believe that policing agencies need to find ways to recognize the problem, accept the reality, and find ways to give appropriate ways to address the problem.

    Not easy, I am sure, but professionals with experience in the areas of PTSD and the chemical addiction to one's adrenalin need to be a part of finding ways to do the right thing for the people who are in the ranks of serving and protecting the public. Policing agencies need to participate and cooperate in the process.

    Another influence on shooting reactions can be cultural. The cultural reality between races are not limited to white and black, and these need to be explored in getting a real understanding of things that propel into serious problems.

    Of course, if the idea is to simply build a killing machine in the police force, all this will be ignored.

    With all due respect and gratitude to those who serve and protect the public, I believe that many of the police don't want to kill a person, but how do you prevent the profession from making some into killers?

  3. @RebelJedi.." Had this gentleman followed officers instructions instead of trying to crash through their cars this would have never happened. Those are the facts. And they are indisputable."

    Actually he was under no obligation to even acknowledge them. Had they allowed Gibson to leave when he wanted to this never would have happened. They hadn't witnessed Gibson break any laws or do anything other than park his car. The standards to conduct a Terry stop were not met. Had they not violated his 4th Amendment rights then Gibson would be alive today.