A Lexington man was shot eight times during an officer-involved shooting in Richmond in September after he pointed a Taser stun gun at police, Kentucky State Police concluded in an investigation.
Jesse Aaron Gibbons, 29, died Sept. 13 after he pointed what officers thought was a firearm but actually was a stun gun, the investigation revealed. The stun gun had dropped into Gibbons' vehicle during a struggle with a police officer in Lexington before Gibbons fled and drove to Richmond.
The investigation revealed that eight officers discharged their weapons at the scene. They were two Lexington police officers: Donnell Gordon and Clay Atchison; five deputies from the Madison County Sheriff's Office: Sgt. Derek Thomas, Sgt. Chris Sizemore, and deputies Eric Short, Charles "Buster" Dargavell and Steve Gibbs; and state trooper Aaron Hall.
All the officers thought they were being fired upon and returned fire, an investigation summary said. After the initial rounds were fired, a standoff ensued. Gibbons eventually surrendered but died later at a Lexington hospital.
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The investigation did not specify which officers actually shot Gibbons because all fired the same caliber gun and virtually the same type of hollow point bullets.
A Madison County grand jury that met in April decided not to indict anyone in the shooting.
State police released more than 500 pages of interviews, forensic reports, officer statements, autopsy records and other documents late Tuesday after the Herald-Leader filed an open-records request in early May. Police had not released many details about the shooting before Tuesday.
An autopsy conducted by the state medical examiner's office found that Gibbons was struck by eight rounds that penetrated his abdomen, chest, left hip, right thigh, right leg, left thigh and right forearm. A total of five rounds was recovered from Gibbons' chest, abdomen, right hip, scrotum and right tibia.
All the weapons fired — except for trooper Hall's — were .40-caliber Glock 22s. Hall fired a .40-caliber Glock 35. All the officers except Hall fired Speers Gold Dot 165 Grain Bonded hollow point bullets. Hall fired Speers Gold Dot 155 Grain Bonded hollow point bullets. Investigators collected 67 shell casings from the shooting scene.
"Because all agencies were shooting rounds made by the same company and of approximately the same grain, I did not feel like I would be able to determine which agency officers had actually fired the rounds which struck Jesse Gibbons ... ," state police detective Rodney Wren wrote in a report.
Gibbons had a 2005 conviction for misdemeanor assault and a 2006 probation violation for a misdemeanor offense. At the time of the shooting, there was a domestic violence order against him that was in effect until October 2016.
A little more than an hour before he was shot, Gibbons went to his mother's house in Lexington in an attempt to reconcile their estranged relationship. He had not seen his mother in two years, but the meeting did not go well. They fought verbally, and Gibbons took her dog. As he was leaving, he pushed the front door against her.
Gibbons' Jeep Cherokee was later stopped by police at the Circle K on Buckhorn Drive. Lexington officer James Winter conducted the investigation into the altercation with Gibbons' mother. Winter concluded that there was enough evidence to arrest Gibbons on charges of misdemeanor assault and second-degree burglary.
But Gibbons, who suffered from bipolar disorder, said he wouldn't go to jail. "I'm not going back to jail for something my mom said," he told Winter.
During a struggle, Gibbons punched Winter in the left eye, then Gibbons drove away in the Jeep. As a result of that struggle, Winters dropped his stun gun into Gibbons' vehicle.
Lexington officer Donnell Gordon found the Jeep on Old Richmond Road. Gordon turned on his lights and siren, but Gibbons failed to yield and a pursuit began. During the pursuit, officers were told by radio dispatch that Winter's stun gun might be in Gibbons' vehicle.
The pursuit came to an end in Richmond, when Gibbons lost control of his Jeep and it went across the median into oncoming traffic, narrowly missing a westbound Toyota Tundra pickup. The Jeep crashed on a wooded embankment on the Eastern Bypass across from a Shell gas station, not far from Lancaster Road and the Eastern Kentucky University campus.
The report says Gibbons got out of the Jeep "with what appeared to be a gun in his hand" and pointed it at the officers. An investigation summary said Gibbons "took a firing stance."
Gordon told investigators that Gibbons' position on the embankment "placed the officers and citizens directly in harm's way of imminent danger."
Shortly after 9:30 p.m., officers and deputies fired an initial volley of rounds, and Gibbons fell to the ground, after which a standoff ensued. An investigation summary said Gibbons ignored verbal commands from police to toss out his weapon and surrender.
During the standoff, Gibbons was on top of the earth embankment and hidden by brush and foliage. On several occasions during this standoff, Gibbons would raise his right hand in the air above the brush and brandish his weapon, a report said.
Traffic was heavy in the area that Saturday night because the EKU-Morehead State football game had concluded. Air One, Lexington's helicopter unit, hovered overhead to relay Gibbons' position and actions to officers on the ground.
In a written statement, Gordon wrote that he yelled for Gibbons "to drop his gun, then returned fire. While returning fire, I observed Mr. Gibbons still was pointing what appeared to be a gun toward officers and citizens."
Lexington police Lt. Chris Spurlock wrote in his statement that he told Gibbons through a cruiser's public-address system: "Mr. Gibbons, you need to exit the bushes and show us your hands. You shot at our officers; we need you to drop your gun and exit with your hands in the air. You need medical attention, come out with your hands empty. You will be arrested but will also be given medical treatment."
Later, Gibbons raised his weapon and pointed it at trooper Hall, who arrived on the scene after the initial shots were fired.
"Believing he was about to be fired upon and in defense of his life and the lives of those around him, trooper Hall discharged his weapon" and fired one round toward Gibbons, a report said.
Eventually Gibbons complied with officers' commands and tossed his weapon, which was later found to be a stun gun. Upon his surrender, Gibbons received treatment at the scene and then was taken to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, where he died shortly before midnight.
Danny Joe Britt, the driver of the Toyota truck that was nearly struck by the Gibbons vehicle and who witnessed the standoff, said in an interview which is part of the investigative report that he thought police acted appropriately.
"They gave him (Gibbons) every benefit, you know, that they should have done and probably a lot more considering what he did when he got out of the vehicle," Britt said.
In a state police interview, Stan Gibbons, father of Jesse Gibbons, said his son had been admitted to Eastern State Hospital a number of times. A report said Stan Gibbons told the detective "he felt his son's conduct caused the incident to end the way it did."
Reached Wednesday, Stan Gibbons said he primarily wanted people to know that his son was not involved in a "shootout," because his son did not have a firearm.
"Having sat down with state police and reviewing the investigation in-depth, and viewing some very painful video, my original assumption remains the same: That my son died on his own terms," Gibbons said. "And I believe that police did what they were trained to do in the situation as it was. I have no ill feelings for anyone involved in the incident."
He said his son "lived on his own terms and paid the price, and he died on his own terms and paid the price."