The Clark County district attorney is weighing in on a new way to review officer-involved shootings. The newly named police fatality review replaces the coroner's inquest process. The first case under review is the death of disabled Gulf War veteran Stanley Gibson.
"I want answers," said Rhonda Gibson, who is the widow of Stanley Gibson. "I want to know why they did what they did. I want to know why he had to put seven bullets in the back of my husband's head."
"I'm optimistic that it will be a first for this community," said Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson. "We have never had a process like this before. As it stands right now, we have no process."
Despite criticism from Monday's county commission meeting, Wolfson supports the new police fatality review hearing. He thinks it's better than the coroner's inquest process that was stopped 2 1/2 years ago for legal reasons.
"I think this process may encourage more participation from the police officers involved," said Wolfson. "It's less adversarial and there's no jury."
There's also no verdict. Instead, an investigating officer and a district attorney will lay out the facts. Witnesses will be called and an independent party can ask questions for the family and the public. It will also reveal details about the criminal investigation.
"What did your loved one do to perhaps prompt the police officer to use deadly force," said Wolfson. "You will see pictures. You will see diagrams. You will hear testimony if the officers choose to participate."
Gibson said it's too early to tell if this review process will help but she wants change.
"We need justice," said Gibson. "We need to find out. Things need to change."
Wolfson said if new information is presented during the hearing, the district attorney can still file criminal charges. He also said Metro has changed some of its use of force policies in light of recent officer-involved shootings.
The district attorney plans to hold Stanley Gibson's hearing in the next four to six weeks in a public facility. It will be open to the community.
Copyright 2013 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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