Published Thursday, April 11, 2013 | 2:34 p.m.
Updated Thursday, April 11, 2013 | 11:20 p.m.
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.