The officer who shot and killed Stanley Gibson last week had been told of a plan to take the man alive shortly before he fired, several Metropolitan Police Department sources told the Review-Journal.
Knowledgeable sources on Thursday said officer Jesus Arevalo, a nine-year veteran, had been briefed by supervisors on their intent to use a beanbag shotgun and pepper spray to subdue Gibson, 43, an unarmed, mentally ill war veteran who refused to exit his car.
Police previously indicated that Arevalo, 34, might have not known about the plan and that the shooting was the result of miscommunication.
But some officers at the scene told investigators that Arevalo definitely had been briefed, sources said.
Although the timing of the plan may have been altered after Arevalo was initially briefed, the decision to use the beanbag shotgun never changed, sources said. It’s unclear whether Arevalo knew the plan had changed.
"Some officers are concerned and questioning why he fired if he knew about the beanbag plan," one source said.
Sheriff Doug Gillespie, reached by telephone late Thursday, said he is still gathering information on the Dec. 12 shooting.
"The interviews have been completed, and that information is being compiled, and I will be briefed on that information on the early part of next week," he said.
Gillespie said Arevalo has been interviewed as part of his agency’s internal investigation "within the last couple of days," with a "number of officers" who were at the scene.
Arevalo could not be reached for comment Thursday. A man who answered the door at a residence thought to be Arevalo’s home declined to comment.
Chris Collins, executive director of the Police Protective Association union, also declined to comment.
Las Vegas police last week released a lengthy news release detailing the 30-minute standoff with Gibson in the northwest valley but did not say what Arevalo might have known.
The release said that Arevalo fired seven shots from an AR-15 rifle "almost immediately" after officer Malik Grego-Smith fired a beanbag shotgun, intending to shoot out Gibson’s rear passenger window.
Gibson was struck in the back of the head in Arevalo’s barrage. He died at the scene.
According to the department’s release, police responded to the Alondra apartments near Rainbow Boulevard and Smoke Ranch Road at 11:23 p.m. on Dec. 11, a Sunday.
A resident told police that two black men tried to break into the person’s home and left in a white Cadillac.
Officers went to the apartment, spoke to the caller and returned to the parking lot to fill out paperwork.
The extent of the attempted break-in is unclear.
Gibson’s wife told the Review-Journal that the couple recently had moved to a neighboring apartment complex and that Gibson, who was disabled and confused, had gone to the wrong apartments and called her for help.
A witness said he saw the man driving slowly through the complex with emergency flashers on before the fatal incident.
Police said officers then saw a white Cadillac pull into a parking space and turn off its lights and engine. Officers approached the vehicle, and Gibson turned the car on and backed up toward them. The officers moved out of the way, and the back of Gibson’s car struck a patrol vehicle. A second officer quickly pulled a patrol car in front of the Cadillac, pinning it.
For the next 30 minutes, police spoke to Gibson through a loudspeaker, but they said he never responded or acknowledged them. Gibson stopped and restarted the car several times. Three times Gibson stepped on the accelerator, causing the right rear tire to spin.
Other officers arrived on the scene, and police began devising the plan to remove Gibson from the car. Other officers would provide cover while the plan was carried out, police said.
The shooting, which was captured by neighbors on video camera, has been criticized inside and outside the department and sparked calls for an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Las Vegas police have shot and killed 12 people since February, a record for the agency in one year. Last week, Gillespie said he welcomed an investigation by the Justice Department into how the department uses deadly force.
The shooting came in the wake of a Review-Journal investigation into Las Vegas police shootings.
Gillespie added he has to "respect the process," referring to the department’s investigation.
He said it can be difficult to strike a balance between informing the public while not compromising the internal findings.
"As information comes forward that I believe is relevant, I will bring it out to the community," Gillespie said.
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at email@example.com or 702-383-0283. Contact reporter Antonio Planas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4638.