LAS VEGAS (CN) – Las Vegas Police shot to death a decorated, unarmed veteran of Iraq as he sat in his car, the man’s mother claims in a $20 million federal lawsuit.
Celestine Gibson says her 43-year-old son, Stanley LaVon Gibson, who is black, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after being honorably discharged while serving in the first Gulf War.
Police responded to a break-in at a condominium complex where Stanley Gibson had just pulled his white Cadillac into a parking spot.
Several officers repeatedly commanded Stanley to leave his car.
“During this time, Stanley, who was confused and mentally distressed, remained in his vehicle with the windows rolled up,” his mother says. “At times, Stanley started and stopped his engine multiple times, but his vehicle did not go anywhere because it remained pinned.”
Instead of contacting a Crisis Intervention Team or SWAT officers, defendant officers “hatched a plan to assault Stanley,” his mom says.
The plan was to fire a round of beanbags from a shotgun to break a car window, then fire pepper spray into the car, while a third officer would “cover” with his AR-15 assault rifle.
An officer discharged a round into the car’s rear passenger window, and defendant Officer Jesus Arevalo then fired his “weapon of choice, an AR-15 assault rifle, at Stanley seven times,” the mother says.
She says her son was not provided with medical attention for at least 5 minutes, and was never taken to a hospital.
“The police officers left Stanley’s body on the ground, uncovered to a disturbing degree, for several hours after he was killed,” the complaint states.
Ms. Gibson claims the Police Department slants its investigations of officer-involved shootings in favor of the shooting officer, to “concoct excuses for ‘bad shoots’ instead of investigating these matters in a neutral fashion and punishing the shooting officers when appropriate.”
“As a result, Metro officers feel empowered to shoot harmless citizens, knowing that Metro will offer ‘cover’ after the fact,” according to the complaint.
In the past 12 years, there have been 143 deaths caused by police in Las Vegas, the mom says. In 2011, 11 people other than Stanley Gibson were killed in officer-involved shootings, according to the complaint.
Thirty-two percent of the people shot at by police were black. Only 10.6 percent of Las Vegas’ 583,756 residents are black, according to city-data.com.
Ms. Gibson seeks $20 million for compensatory, special and punitive damages for civil rights violations.
She is represented by Andre Lagomarsino with Parker Scheer Lagomarsino.