Las Vegas Sun

April 21, 2015

Currently: 73° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

DA: No charges against Metro cop who shot veteran dead

Updated Thursday, April 11, 2013 | 11:20 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

Steve Wolfson

Police Fatality Review: Stanley Gibson

Rondha Gibson, the widow of Stanley Gibson, listens during the first Police Fatality Public Fact-finding Review concerning the Dec. 12, 2011 shooting of Stanley Gibson by a Metro Police officer at the Clark County Government Center in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Metro Police made a series of mistakes leading to the December 2011 shooting death of Gulf War veteran Stanley Gibson, but the officer who fired the fatal shots will not face charges, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said.

A report issued by Wolfson on Thursday said Officer Jesus Arevalo thought he was shooting in self-defense when he opened fire with an assault-style rifle, killing Gibson.

Gibson was shot on Dec. 12, 2011. Officers had responded to a burglary call at a northwest valley condominium near Smoke Ranch Road and Rainbow Boulevard. A woman reported that two black men were kicking in her door trying to enter her home.

When officers arrived, they encountered Gibson. The 21-page report detailing the incident said it appeared that Gibson had confused the apartment for his own as he had done in the past. His wife, Rondha Gibson, said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

When an officer approached him, Gibson — who appeared disoriented and distraught — refused to surrender and allegedly rammed his white Cadillac into a patrol car. Two patrol cars boxed in Gibson’s car for more than an hour. When he continued to try to drive away, officers developed a plan to use a beanbag round fired from a shotgun to break his car window.

What Arevalo heard was another officer firing the beanbag round to break a side window of Gibson’s vehicle. Police attributed the shooting to a miscommunication caused by radio failure. The report detailed several incidents of garbled or unreadable transmissions, preventing the officers from communicating.

“The Nevada Supreme Court makes it perfectly clear that the mere perception of danger, as opposed to actual danger, is sufficient to warrant a killing in self-defense,” the report said.

A grand jury previously refused to indict in the case in December.

Attorney Cal Potter represents Gibson’s widow, Rondha Gibson, in a federal lawsuit accusing Las Vegas police of civil rights violations.

Potter said he didn’t expect that the county DA would prosecute.

The report details several encounters Gibson had with police leading up to the shooting.

About a day and a half before the shooting, Gibson threw a punch at an officer who had responded to a 911 call Gibson had made from his home, the report said. And just nine hours later, Gibson was detained at the Golden Nugget downtown in relation to a petty theft, the report said.

On the morning of the shooting, several people called police dispatch reporting a “dazed” man walking in and out of moving traffic near Jones Boulevard and Vegas Drive. The arriving patrol officer described Gibson as having a blank look on his face, and called for an ambulance to transport him to MountainView Hospital.

Later that afternoon, Gibson called a paramedic claiming he was suffering from an acute onset of anxiety. After an ambulance picked him up, he signed a refusal of service form and was discharged from the ambulance only to call back that evening asking for another ambulance.

When they questioned him, he became irate. Then after an ambulance arrived and walked him from the front door, he cursed at them and claimed he could get there faster himself. He then drove off in his Cadillac for the last time.

“Mr. Gibson’s death was especially tragic because there were so many missed opportunities to get him the help he so obviously needed,” Wolfson said.

“On top of that, there were mistakes and a breakdown in communication in the apartment parking lot that led directly to the shooting. However, I believe that through subsequent policy changes and training the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has addressed many of the issues raised in this report,” Wolfson said. “I believe that if the officers were presented with these same circumstances today we would have a different outcome.”

Associated Press writer Ken Ritter contributed to this report.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 11 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Recall!

  2. It figures. Steve Wolfson is in Metro's pocket. Mistakes were made. Evidently the loss of life doesn't mean anything because it was a mistake. Don't get me wrong, I don't think the police officer wanted to kill someone for the fun of it but it shouldn't be dismissed like, "Oh mistakes were made". This killing is going to cost us taxpayers a lot of money because of the mistakes made. And one guy lost his life because of mistakes.

  3. Ridiculous. If the reports are to be believed, involuntary manslaughter was the least that should been charged again Arevalo and perhaps his supervising officer.

    Again, the needless killing will continue because there are never any consequences for officers when they kill. A nice paid vacation is the only result for them. Pathetic.

  4. @snob....His vehicle was immobilized. He wasn't driving anywhere. He was behind the wheel of a 4,000lb paperweight, and he was not under the influence of any drugs. What about Gibson makes you think he was a crackhead. Was it his distinguished military service. Was it the wife who loved him. Was it the way he used his hazards to let people know he would be driving slower than usual. Or was it. No it wouldn't be the color of his skin now would it.

  5. Will a public servant in this city ever be held accountable for anything?
    When will the people of this city say enough?

  6. "A report issued by Wolfson today said Officer Jesus Arevalo thought he was shooting in self-defense when he opened fire with an assault-style rifle, killing Gibson."

    There are no words adequate for this betrayal. Our DA has proven again who he works for, and it's not We the people. And the police state gets bigger while We get smaller.

    boftx, itsumo, Al_Rogers, and especially BrookeLogan and bghs1986 -- all good posts which covered this better than I can.

    "In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. . ." -- Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928), Justice Brandeis dissenting

  7. shot in the head 4 times or 7 times or whatever it was seems like overkill and is. Mistake or not, officer Arevalo has issues.

  8. "Copy That" a term used in production to acknowledge that orders were received via walkie. Apparently a basic practice not used in police work.

  9. 7 times. in the back of the head. By a cop. I dont care what crime happened - thats overkill.

  10. "The Nevada Supreme Court makes it perfectly clear that the mere perception of danger, as opposed to actual danger, is sufficient to warrant a killing in self-defense," the report said.

    The perception of danger is enough to kill in self-defense? Anytime a metro officer comes near you you'd better kill him quick before he opens fire on you then!

    What a joke. This guy was unarmed in a surrounded car.