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June 2, 2015

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Taking police shooting case to grand jury a mistake, sheriff says in video

Metro releases video message from Gillespie regarding Stanley Gibson case

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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.

Metro Police sheriff releases video on grand jury case

KSNV reports that Metro Police Sheriff Doug Gillespie releases a video on the grand jury case of the veteran that was shot and killed by a Metro Police officer, Oct. 12.

Metro Police, under pressure from media outlets, have released a video message from Sheriff Douglas Gillespie detailing to Metro employees his objection to a Clark County grand jury review of a deadly officer-involved shooting.

In the Oct. 3 video, which department officials previously said was for internal use only and refused to release to the public, Gillespie informs his employees of District Attorney Steve Wolfson’s decision to convene a grand jury to review the Dec. 11, 2011, fatal shooting of Stanley Gibson.

“The district attorney sees this as the best avenue to review this case using a grand jury to make the decision as to whether the actions are criminal or not,” Gillespie said. “I do not agree.”

Although Gillespie said Gibson’s “death should never have happened,” the sheriff announced in the video his decision to stand by the officers involved.

“I have spoken to the investigators and listened to the internal accounts of this incident,” Gillespie said. “I do not see this fatal shooting as a criminal act.”

During the two-and-a-half minute video, Gillespie also discusses steps the department has taken to “ensure history does not repeat itself.” He mentions efforts to de-escalate critical incidents and the department’s voluntary decision to have the U.S. Department of Justice review Metro’s use-of-force policy.

Gillespie said he deliberately refrained from commenting about a possible grand jury review until Wolfson reached a final decision.

“I feel it’s a mistake to take this case to a grand jury,” Gillespie said. “I can assure you that I have made my position clear to the district attorney.”

Gibson, a 43-year-old Gulf War veteran, was shot and killed by Metro Officer Jesus Arevalo outside a northwest valley condominium. Gibson, allegedly distraught and disoriented, was unarmed at the time of the shooting.

Gibson’s wife, Rhonda Gibson, said her husband was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and brain cancer.

According to police reports, Stanley Gibson refused to surrender to police who had responded to a burglary report near Smoke Ranch Road and Rainbow Boulevard. Gibson allegedly rammed his white Cadillac into at least one patrol car.

Officers used two patrol cars to box in Gibson’s car and kept him there for more than half an hour. When Gibson persisted in trying to drive away and did not heed officers’ orders, police devised a plan to use a beanbag round fired from a shotgun to break a car window and fill the cabin with pepper spray to force Gibson outside.

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

A grand jury is expected to convene next week to review the case. Representing Arevalo, who has worked for Metro since February 2002, will be the police union, Las Vegas Police Protective Association, said its executive director, Chris Collins.

Gillespie concluded the video message by asking department employees to support officers involved. He never mentioned Arevalo by name.

“This is a trying time for these officers and this organization,” he said. “Remain focused on our vision to be the safest community in America.”

Late Friday afternoon, citing "numerous formal requests," Metro backtracked on its original decision and made the video available on its website. The Sun was among media outlets formally requesting the video's release under Nevada open records laws, which make no provision allowing the department to keep the video from the public.

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