DA clears officer in veteran’s shooting death - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

DA clears officer in veteran’s shooting death

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Stanley Gibson's vehicle. (FOX5 file) Stanley Gibson's vehicle. (FOX5 file)

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson on Thursday cleared a Las Vegas Metro police officer of wrongdoing in the shooting death of an unarmed Gulf War veteran.

A report released by Wolfson's office found that Officer Jesus Arevalo's actions were "not criminal" when he shot and killed Stanley Gibson as the latter sat in his Cadillac following a traffic stop on Dec. 12, 2011.

Gibson refused to obey police commands to leave the vehicle, according to the report. During the standoff, officers devised a plan to coax Gibson out of the vehicle using a low-lethality beanbag round.

When he heard the beanbag round fired from another officer's shotgun, Arevalo fired seven rounds from an assault rifle at the vehicle, according to the report.

Wolfson's investigation found deviations in the original plan led Arevalo to believe Gibson had opened fire on the officers. Gibson was unarmed.

"That bothered me, initially, because those seven shots came directly after the beanbag shot. But when you look at the case as a whole and you analyze the facts of the law, it is the opinion of this office that Officer Arevalo reasonably believed that Mr. Gibson may have been shooting from the car," Wolfson said.  

The report states, in part, "It was been determined that the actions of Officer Arevalo, while tragic, were not criminal," and none of the officers involved will face criminal charges.

The case was the first to be heard by Clark County's new police fatality fact-finding review panel, which replaced the controversial coroner's inquest examination of police shootings.

Steve Sanson, president of Veterans in Politics and friend of Gibson's widow, Rhonda Gibson, said the report does not provide any satisfying answers.

"There's no doubt in my mind that [Arevalo] went on that shooting spree to kill Stanley Gibson," Sanson said by telephone Thursday.

Rhonda Gibson has filed a civil lawsuit against police, and has been advised by her attorney not to comment publicly until the case goes to court.

Wolfson said he hopes his report will offer pertinent details to the public about the events surrounding Stanley Gibson's death. Sanson disagrees.

"It's just to pacify the public and paint a picture of doubt within the public's mind," Sanson said.

Arevalo has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting 16 months ago.

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