In a report released today involving the death of Matthew Gibbon on August 26, 2016, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office has determined that the actions of a Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper (NHP) were legally justified and reasonable.
The incident with Mr. Gibbon started when an NHP Trooper initiated a routine traffic stop. He received identification information from the driver of the car, as well as the passengers. When the trooper was returning to his patrol car to run the information, Mr. Gibbon told the other people in the car that he gave the trooper false information and he was leaving. A few minutes later, the trooper saw Mr. Gibbon get out of the car with a backpack. The trooper also saw him holding a gun.
As Mr. Gibbon began running away from the scene, the trooper gave him commands to stop. Instead, Mr. Gibbon turned toward the trooper and fired his weapon at him. The trooper was struck in the chest area, but managed to return fire, striking Mr. Gibbon three times. Mr. Gibbon was declared dead at the scene. The bullet that struck the trooper hit his badge and his bullet-proof vest. He survived his injury.
The driver and other passenger in the car that was stopped by NHP were not further involved in the incident. Mr. Gibbon was an acquaintance of the other passenger, and the driver was the other passenger’s mother. Both stated they had no idea Mr. Gibbon would do what he did.
The autopsy report revealed that, at the time of his death, Mr. Gibbon had a level of methamphetamine in his system that has been reported to cause violent and irrational behavior.
"If you shoot at an officer, they will return fire." said District Attorney Steve Wolfson. "Mr. Gibbon’s decision to run from the scene, and then turn and fire at the trooper, left the trooper with no option but to defend himself and any citizens in the area. Thankfully, the bullet that hit the trooper was stopped by his badge and his vest."
A Police Fatality Public Fact-Finding Review was conducted in this incident on March 10, 2017. Clark County Code mandates such a review when a police-involved death occurs, and the prosecutor preliminarily determines that no criminal prosecution of the officers is appropriate
The determination that the officers acted lawfully in this situation is based upon the evidence available at this time. The case could be reexamined if new information comes to light.
The full report is available on the District Attorney’s Web page.