The widow of Stanley Gibson filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department late Tuesday as a symbolic gesture of the Wednesday anniversary of his death.
Rondha Gibson also named several officers in the lawsuit: Jesus Arevalo, the officer who shot Stanley, and Sgt. Michael Hnatuick, Lt. David Dockendorf, and officer Malik Grego-Smith, who were on the scene of the incident.
Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie was also named as a defendant.
The lawsuit quoted former Sheriff Bill Young’s statements on KNPR shortly after the shooting last year.
“It is always best to slow the action down, particularly with somebody who appears to be mentally unstable,” Young was quoted in the suit. “There are several tactics and resources at the police’s disposal.”
Gibson, 43, was an unarmed, disabled Gulf War veteran who was mentally distraught and lost when confronted by officers at a northwest valley apartment complex on Dec. 12, 2011.
Police pinned his car between two police cars. He didn’t respond to commands to exit his vehicle.
The officers’ plan to remove him safely from the car was to break out a window by shooting it with a beanbag shotgun round just before another officer doused the inside of the car with pepper spray.
But when the shotgun was fired, Arevalo fired at least seven times into the vehicle with his rifle. Gibson was pronounced dead at the scene.
The suit said the police are responsible for the wrongful death of Gibson and claimed medical expenses, coroner’s fees, burial expenses,
loss of economic support and loss of family relationships.
Cal Potter is representing Rondha Gibson. Andre Lagomarsino, who is representing Gibson’s mother, filed a separate lawsuit earlier this year.
It’s possible the two lawsuits could eventually be merged.
The high-profile shooting attracted public attention, not just because it was captured on video. Las Vegas police had been under scrutiny since unarmed Trevon Cole, 21, was killed in his bathroom the year before. Just days before Gibson’s death, the Review-Journal published a series of stories showing the department was reluctant to learn from, and hold officers accountable for, problem shootings.
Gibson’s death sparked a federal investigation of the department and a grand jury review of the incident. In July, the department made several changes to its use of force policy to promote an emphasis of human life and de-escalating situations in an effort to reduce shootings.
Las Vegas police killed a record 12 people in 2011. There have been 10 shootings this year resulting in four deaths.
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0283.