Las Vegas Sun

February 12, 2016

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Officer who killed Gulf War vet Stanley Gibson to face termination hearing

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Brian Nordli

Sheriff Doug Gillespie addresses his decision to recommend the termination of Officer Jesus Arevalo on Friday, May 31, 2013.

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 »

Jesus Arevalo, the Metro Police officer who shot and killed an unarmed Gulf War veteran nearly 18 months ago, faces termination from the force, Sheriff Doug Gillespie announced Friday afternoon

The veteran, 43-year-old Stanley Gibson, suffered four gunshot wounds after Arevalo fired seven rounds from a rifle at Gibson’s car during a police standoff in the early morning hours of Dec. 12, 2011.

In a news conference Friday, Gillespie said Metro’s Critical Incident Review Process Board conducted an investigation into the shooting and concluded there were “critical missteps” by Metro officers at Gibson’s shooting.

“Although there were multiple issues cited by the board regarding tactics and decision-making, ultimately Officer Jesus Arevalo was the only officer who used deadly force,” Gillespie said.

Because of that, Gillespie said he was approving the board’s recommendation that Arevalo be fired.

Before Arevalo’s termination can take effect, however, he will be able to make his case at an internal pre-termination hearing before three Metro officers.

In a letter this afternoon to the membership of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, union lawyer David Roger vowed, “We will mount a vigorous defense for Officer Arevalo.”

That pre-termination board will be formed within 15 days, then the hearing will be scheduled. At the conclusion of the hearing, those officers will make their recommendation whether to terminate Arevalo.

Ultimately, however, Gillespie will make the decision.

The deadly incident unfolded in the early-morning hours that day at the Alondra Condominiums, 2451 N. Rainbow Blvd., after reports of an attempted burglary.

When the suspect vehicle described to police — a white Cadillac — showed back up at the complex, officers blocked it in and realized it belonged to Gibson.

Gibson, who suffered from anxiety and depression, had been on police radar after bizarre behavior the previous two days landed him brief stints in the city jail and hospital.

But in a Police Fatality Public Factfinding Review conducted earlier this year, Metro detective Clifford Mogg said officers at the scene had no information about Gibson’s recent contact with police.

Gibson refused commands to exit his vehicle, then rammed a patrol car and periodically revved the engine and spun the tires, Mogg said.

The situation prompted a sergeant on scene to devise a plan to shoot a nonlethal bean-bag round into the Cadillac and then disperse pepper spray to force Gibson out, Mogg said.

Meanwhile, Arevalo — one of five team members briefed on the original positioning — had asked to change positions, Mogg said. He switched to a spot about 29 feet from the Cadillac, facing the passenger side of the vehicle.

A short time later, Mogg said Lt. David Dockendorf decided to modify the original plan by approaching from a different angle.

Dockendorf said he made “eye contact” with the officer in charge of firing the bean-bag round into the vehicle, but he did not communicate the repositioning with any other officers. Arevalo, now on the opposite side of Gibson’s vehicle, was not aware of the change, Mogg said.

When the bean-bag round hit the vehicle window, Arevalo mistakenly thought he was being shot at and returned fire. He fired seven shots from his .223-caliber rifle into the Cadillac, killing Gibson.

At Friday’s news conference, Gillespie said Dockendorf and Metro Sgt. Michael Hnatuick also would face disciplinary action in Gibson’s shooting. Their discipline, however, does not rise to the level of termination, Gillespie said.

In December, a Clark County grand jury declined to indict Arevalo on any criminal charges related to the shooting.

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