The Metropolitan Las Vegas Police Department (MLVPD) is blaming their relatively new police radio system for the fatal shooting of Gulf War veteran Stanley Gibson. According to Sheriff Doug Gillespie, the $42 million Desert Sky police radio system which has been in use two years, has caused communication problems between police officers since its installation. It has dropped calls and created dead zones to the point MLVPD officers have been forced to use their cell phones to talk to each other. And it was these problems that caused MLVPD police officer Jesus Arevalo to fatally shot Gibson, a Las Vegas disabled veteran.
Early on the morning of December 12, 2011, the MLVPD responded to a call from a person complaining that someone was blocking entry into the parking lot of a northwest valley Las Vegas apartment complex. While on the scene the MLVPD spotted Gibson, whose person and car matched the description given by the complaining party. Two police cars blocked in the veteran. When Gibson did not respond to police requests to exit his vehicle, the MLVPD decided to shoot out his car windows with a beanbag shotgun, and then douse Gibson with pepper spray.
According to Gillespie, because of the faulty radio system, Arevalo did not correctly hear the other officers discussing this plan. So when the MLVPD fired the beanbags into Gibson’s car, Arevalo thought Gibson was firing upon the MLVPD officers. Arevalo responded by shooting his AR-15 rifle into Gibson’s car … seven times. Gillespie’s explanation contradicts an earlier report that Arevalo was selected to shoot.
Gibson was 100% disabled and prone to delusions. It is believed Gibson’s medical condition caused him to be mentally confused and get lost trying to find his way home, whereby he ended up on the apartment complex parking lot.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson took the Gibson case to a grand jury October 16, 2012. If the grand jury returns a “true bill,” it will be the first indictment, in almost 20 years, against a Las Vegas police officer for an on-duty shooting.
Celestine Gibson, Gibson’s mother, who recently claimed the MLVPD were trying to intimidate her before she testified to the grand jury and to dissuade her from publicly drawing attention to the case, filed a lawsuit shortly after the shooting. According to Andre Lagomarsino, the Las Vegas attorney representing Gibson’s mother, Arevalo acted criminally and should be held accountable. This previous January, Lagomarsino settled the Trevon Cole case for $1.7 million. Cole, an unarmed small-time marijuana dealer, was killed by a Las Vegas police officer during a botched drug raid in June 2010.
Under Nevada law, if a police officer has a reasonable belief that the target poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to either the police or another person, a police officer can legal shoot. An unarmed person can be shot if the police can prove that a reasonable person in the same situation would have done so. Though there is a video of the fatal shooting, the Las Vegas police department has taken a stance of “justifiable shooting.”
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