Fallen 1997 Gibson Brian

Memorial to Brian T. Gibson

Officer Killed in the Line of Duty
End of Watch: February 5, 1997
Rank: Officer  Badge No.____
Age: 28
Years of Service: 7
Location of Death: Georgia and Missouri Avenue, NW

 

Circumstances

On Feb. 5, 1997, at 3 am, Officer Brian T. Gibson, 27 was ambushed and shot to death while in full uniform sitting in his marked patrol car at a traffic light outside the IBEX Nightclub at Georgia and Missouri Avenues, NW. Within three minutes after the shots were fired, members of the Fourth District apprehended Marthell Nathaniel Dean, who had been escorted from the IBEX club by an off-duty officer just prior to the shooting. Dean was found guilty of First Degree Murder and is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Biography
Officer Gibson was a veteran of six years with MPD. He was assigned to the Fourth District and is survived by his wife, two children, parents and a sister.

Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.

THE SHOOTING DEATH OF OFFICER BRIAN T. GIBSON ON FEBRUARY 5, 1997 

WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 7, 1997, PAGE B5

800 D.C. Police Officers Work Different Jobs After Hours

Eight hundred police officers — a fourth of the District’s active-duty force — work other jobs after hours, including employment as security guards and bouncers at nightclubs and bars, D.C. police officials said yesterday.

The practice, which has been allowed since 1982 under a law passed by the D.C. Council, originally was opposed by the police department because officials feared it could place officers in compromising positions.

“The question comes into play: Who are they working for?” said Police Chief Larry D. Soulsby. “Are they doing things policemen should do, or are they working as guards? They have to be a policeman first.

“We’ve had a lot of disciplinary actions and investigations about officers working outside employment,” Soulsby said.

“It is generally when they should have taken action and didn’t,” said D.C. Assistant Police Chief Max J. Krupo, who oversees the enforcement of regulations on moonlighting. For example, a business is prohibited from selling alcohol to someone who is inebriated, Krupo said. A D.C. police officer working in the club after hours is obligated to enforce that law, but there have been cases in which they don’t, he said.

The police department is investigating the situation that preceded the shooting early Wednesday of a D.C. police officer who was sitting in his patrol car on Georgia Avenue NW, Krupo said. The gunman apparently was seeking revenge after being bounced from the nearby Ibex nightclub by one of two officers working as guards, police said.

In Montgomery County, officers are not allowed to work at an establishment that sells alcohol.
In Fairfax County, officers in uniform are prohibited from working inside an establishment that sells alcohol, directly supervising the sale or consumption of alcohol or working as a doorperson, bouncer or guard. They also cannot be involved in the search of patrons for weapons when they enter a business, unless it is related to a criminal matter.

The Prince George’s County Police Department does not place general restrictions on where officers may moonlight, but officers are barred from taking jobs at establishments where the department suspects illegal activity.

Under D.C. police rules, any officer who wants an outside job must submit an application to Krupo’s office and wear a uniform on the job. If Krupo thinks there may be a conflict of interest, he defers to the department’s office of professional responsibility for a decision.

Officers are not allowed to work as sightseeing guides or bill collectors in the District, but they can hold those jobs outside the District. They cannot work anywhere as private investigators or hold a police job in another jurisdiction.

But in addition to being employed as nightclub bouncers or security guards, District officers are allowed to work at various locales — as guards at construction sites, fast-food restaurants and hotels.

They also can drive taxicabs at night under legislation passed last year by the D.C. Council that also raised the ceiling on how many hours they could work in an outside job to 32 hours, from 24. The police workweek is 40 hours.

“A lot of the officers work these grueling hours just to make ends meet,” said Ron Robertson, chairman of the police union. “A lot of them can make as much money or more off duty as on duty.” Robertson said an officer’s starting salary is $27,900, and they are paid an average of about $34,000.

Robertson said that sometimes an organization will come to Washington for a conference and get the word out that it’s paying $20 to $25 an hour for security.

“They’ll contact one guy who knows somebody, and they’ll ask him if he can get 10 guys for the next couple of days,” Robertson said. “Those are choice jobs.”

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 7, 1997, PAGE A22

While the City Slept

OFFICER Brian T. Gibson was in the right place at the right time doing his job. A six-year veteran, he was in his patrol car parked at a stoplight almost within eyesight of the 4th Police District station, where he worked, and near the intersection of a Northwest Washington nightspot and nuisance called Ibex. He is now dead from a fusillade of bullets that struck him without warning in the head, twice in the neck and at least once in his body. The attack occurred around 3 a.m., as Brian Gibson watched over a city while it slept.

The person in the wrong place doing the wrong thing was the other guy, the alleged triggerman — an unruly, expelled Ibex patron. Authorities say he shot Officer Gibson in retaliation for being tossed out of the club by an off-duty uniformed police officer. It was a brazen, unspeakably cruel and cowardly act.

Marthell Nathaniel Dean, charged with first-degree murder, has since 1991 been arrested 10 times and convicted twice, once for carrying a pistol without a license. At least he will have his day in court. Officer Gibson had a court date, too. He was supposed to testify in a drug case on Wednesday — a few days before his fourth wedding anniversary. Both dates will be missed.

In a city that finds itself assailed on many fronts, Brian Gibson was the kind of police officer who upheld the honor of his department. He had commendations from his superiors to prove it. Fellow officers described him as fun, fearless and a good officer. “He was legit,” was the way 4th District Sgt. Judith Anderson put it.

What was not legitimate, however, was the way he died. The attack was unprovoked, vicious and senseless. It was the kind of indiscriminate and mindless killing that continues to occur all over this city, even as murder rates are decreasing across the country. Less than two months into the year, the District has already registered 46 homicides. And now a police officer has been murdered at point-blank range.

Ron Robertson, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police, believes that District citizens are too numb to be outraged, that they have “sunk to the level of a Third World country, where murder on the streets is so common that nobody thinks twice about it.” We disagree with that harsh judgment; D.C. residents should as well. By forcefully demanding from their leaders more support and better protection for courageous officers such as Brian Gibson, they can show that this charge is wrong. 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 7, 1997, PAGE B5

Solicitation for Officer Is Fake, Police Say

Telephone calls from someone identifying himself as a police officer and soliciting funds on behalf of slain police Officer Brian T. Gibson are fraudulent, D.C. police officials said yesterday.
Police said that several people reported receiving such calls yesterday.

The caller said the checks should not be made out to a specific agency and would be picked up later. The D.C. police are not soliciting funds on Gibson’s behalf, officials said.
The calls are being investigated by the fraud unit, 202-727-4159.

Police officials said anyone who wishes to make a donation to benefit Gibson’s family may send a check to Heroes Inc., 666 11th St. NW, Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20071. Heroes is a private, nonprofit organization.

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 WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 7, 1997, PAGE B1

Police Union to Call Again for Federal Help; D.C. Department Demoralized by Relentless Homicides, Disdain for Officers

A police officer is gunned down as he sits in his cruiser at a red light. A 12-year-old boy is kidnapped as he walks home from school and executed. A 78-year-old woman walking home from church is fatally wounded by a stray bullet. On a downtown street in morning rush-hour traffic, a young man shoots his girlfriend in the head, then turns the gun on himself. A young woman is strangled in her home when she walks in on a burglary.

In courtrooms, convicts have defiantly lauded police-killers just before judges sentence them to decades of incarceration. Demoralized and angry police are catching fewer killers while they themselves have become targets merely for wearing a badge and a uniform.

The frustration has reached a point at which the D.C. police union today plans to announce that officers can no longer “fully protect” residents and will again call for the federal government to take over the department.

Already, at the behest of the D.C. financial control board, Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc., a consulting firm, is doing a comprehensive review of the police department’s management and operations. The control board and Mayor Marion Barry have agreed in writing to make changes the firm recommends.

Officials hope those recommendations will help stem the flow of blood in the city. While the homicide rate is dropping in major cities throughout the country, it is not abating in the District.
As of yesterday, 46 people had been slain in the District this year, the same number for the same period in 1996, which ended with 399 slayings. That was a 10 percent increase in killings over 1995. In contrast, eight of the 10 largest cities in the United States recorded a decrease in homicides of at least 15 percent.

Homicides peaked in the District in 1993, when 467 people were killed.

“The chief is trying to tell people that crime is going down. . . . If it is, it’s only on paper. It’s becoming a slaughterhouse,” said Ron Robertson, head of the police union.

Chief Larry D. Soulsby was unavailable to be interviewed yesterday. He was visiting the family of Brian T. Gibson, the officer who was shot to death in his cruiser early Wednesday. Officials noted that overall crime was down in the District last year. They have blamed a shortage of financial resources and equipment for the rise in homicides last year.

Gibson’s slaying — he allegedly was killed by a young gang member who was apparently bent on revenge after being bounced from a nightclub by another officer — has angered many on the force, who say that the unprovoked shooting and an attack later that day on officers trying to arrest an auto theft suspect shows a new low in respect for law enforcement.

The slaying was the latest in a series of brazen attacks on Washington area law enforcement officers, shootings that have left seven law officers dead since November 1994. In those cases, the attacker has simply walked up to a police officer or federal agent and started shooting. The law officers were sitting in their cars, in their office or standing on the street.

Inspector Winston Robinson Jr., commander of the 7th Police District, in the southeastern corner of the city, is usually circumspect when describing the city’s crime problem. Not so after Gibson’s killing.

“We’re talking about predators, vicious animals, street scum that are out there ruining lives,” Robinson said. “We talk about how it takes a whole village to raise a child, but it may take a whole village to lock up his behind, too.” Robinson was referring to the major problem that continues to plague detectives who investigate homicides and serious assaults: the often-fearful refusal of witnesses to tell what they know and testify in court.

Starting in 1994, the department appeared to be making some headway with witnesses in homicide cases. Detectives were assigned by police district, to allow them to develop knowledge of neighborhood crews and their turf wars and to cultivate informants. It was community policing, at the detective level. A number of cases were closed by detectives who had gained the confidence of people in their districts; some witnesses even began asking for specific investigators they knew.

In 1994, 55 percent of homicides were closed with arrests. The closure rate was above 50 percent in the first half of 1995, until budget cuts vastly curtailed overtime and hurt morale.
Last year, the department abandoned the district assignments and resumed assigning cases to detectives on a rotating basis, largely based on work shifts. The closure rate in 1996 was 41 percent, according to officials.

While the department seems to lurch from one crisis to the next, many residents try to cope with crime’s effects.

Karen Smith, a resident of the Adams-Morgan neighborhood where a woman was strangled and four others have been raped in recent weeks, has attended four community meetings with police officials in the last month.

“I wonder whether crime is increasing, or I’m just more aware of it,” said Smith, 37. “I think both are true.”

And Simon Hirschfeld, the boyfriend of Sharon Moskowitz, 25, the strangling victim, veers from grief to anger.

“She was funnier and smarter than you can imagine, and someone made her suffer and took her life for next to nothing, and this happens every day,” said Hirschfeld, 25. “It’s easy for people to be disconnected from the violence in their city. It’s hard to understand how vile it is until it happens to you.”

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 10, 1997, PAGE B3 

Paying Respects, in Sadness and Anger; More Than 1,000 Attend Wake for D.C. Police Officer Slain Outside Nightclub

As the body of Officer Brian T. Gibson lay in state last night, D.C. residents and members of a beleaguered police department spoke of sadness, fear and a determination to continue the fight against violence on city streets.

More than 1,000 people, police officers and civilians alike, joined Gibson’s family at East Washington Heights Baptist Church at the wake for the 27-year-old officer, who was shot early Wednesday morning outside a Northwest Washington nightclub while sitting in his patrol car.
“This was just sad; there’s no other way to explain it,” said Officer Michael Gottert, who worked the midnight shift with Gibson in the 4th District and stood outside among hundreds of others still waiting to enter the Southeast Washington church.

Gibson’s shooting, the latest of several unprovoked and fatal attacks on law enforcement officers in recent years, sent a tremor through the department and a city where many already believe violent crime is out of control.

Some officers wore their dress uniforms, with white gloves and shoes shined into obsidians. Others were distinguished only by their gold or silver badges marked with a black bar in honor of their slain colleague.

The officer’s wife, Tracey Gibson, with their 13-month-old daughter, led a large family delegation into the church for a service that was at once a solemn farewell to a comrade and a rally in support of the city’s police officers.

Mayor Marion Barry and his wife, Cora Masters Barry, police Chief Larry D. Soulsby and U.S. Attorney Eric H. Holder Jr. were among those who saw the crowd stand up and applaud Officer Rhonda Jackson as she urged city officials to “stop playing politics with our lives.” Jackson, who had once been Gibson’s partner, criticized single-officer patrol assignments.

“No officer should patrol these streets alone,” she said. Again the crowd applauded.
Her frustrations were echoed by Officer Catherine Taggart-Wilson, of the 7th District, a host at last night’s service. Taggart-Wilson, a shop steward in the police union, said she and fellow officers also were angry about the “cowardly” act that took Gibson’s life.

“This was a last straw,” she said. “I no longer want anyone’s respect. I want their fear.”
Friends and family described their deep hurt over the loss.

“Gib had a way of making his partner feel that we were both going to make it home in the morning,” said Jackson, one of three officers from the 4th District who joined the Rev. Kenneth E. Burke in the pulpit.

“It was behind me that Brian entered the waters of baptism,” said Burke, pastor of the church where Gibson was baptized when he was 16. “Now before you and before me are his earthly remains. . . . How far is the road from the pool to the altar?”

Before Burke was a black casket trimmed in gold, draped with an American flag and surrounded by flowers. Four stone-faced honor guards stood by.
After the benediction, Soulsby hugged Tracey Gibson, then made his way through the sea of people to the church steps.

“It was a very cruel assassination, but our officers are still out there working hard,” Soulsby said. “But they look at this, and it makes them think about themselves, about their children.”
Ron Robertson, head of the police union local, said officers were determined that Gibson’s death not be in vain.

“We are going to push whoever we have to get some help,” he said. “We are not going to give up.” 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 11, 1997, PAGE A1

Grief and Rage for an Officer; At Slain Policeman’s Funeral, Mourners Search for Meaning

Gamely, the hundreds of D.C. police officers who crowded into a Southeast Washington church yesterday or stood in somber respect outside tried to wring some meaning from the death of Officer Brian T. Gibson, who was gunned down last week as he sat in his cruiser at a red light.
It wasn’t easy.

Some of the eulogizers tried to frame the slaying of the highly decorated 27-year-old officer in a larger context. The mayor spoke of the need for federal officials to keep guns out of the city. The police chief called on elected officials to establish youth crisis centers. The District’s chief judge implored people to ask themselves what they could do to ensure that police have safe buildings, proper training, the best equipment, adequate pay.

And the grieving officers responded with muted applause to some of these sentiments.
But then Gibson’s best friend, homicide Detective Eugene Lonon, rose to speak in a cracking voice.

After Gibson’s slaying, Police Chief Larry D. Soulsby had said the officer was in the “wrong place at the wrong time,” a phrase picked up by some news broadcasters. Without mentioning anyone by name, Lonon disagreed.

“Let me tell you, Brian was a police officer,” he began shakily. “He was the poo-lice. He was in full uniform, in a scout car, in the District of Columbia, on duty,” he went on, his voice suddenly strong.

“Brian was where he was supposed to be!” Lonon concluded as officers clapped and chimed in with “Yeah!”

When the two-hour service at East Washington Heights Baptist Church ended, the police honor guard waiting outside snapped to attention, milling officers and federal agents formed two lines, and the snow-trimmed scene was instantly quiet.

The church’s door opened, and six officers carried the coffin into the cold. The flag that covered it was a shock of color amid the dark uniforms, and the slap of the pallbearers’ soles was the only sound.

Gibson’s colleagues from the 4th District stood at attention and saluted. His widow, Tracie, emerged, leaning against relatives and friends who surrounded her. Bagpiper Jerry Morrissey, a retired Prince George’s County police officer, began to play the mournful notes of “Amazing Grace.”

On what would have been her fourth wedding anniversary, Tracie Gibson, her face streaked by tears and her mouth open in a noiseless wail, crumbled into the arms of a man at her side.  Her face disappeared into his shoulder. He gently rocked her.

Then she slowly moved toward a waiting limousine, one officer after another reaching out to guide her toward the open door. A man with gray hair followed close behind, carrying 1-year-old Briana Gibson, a tiny child wearing a pink dress and bonnet.

Then a seemingly endless funeral cortege of hundreds of police cruisers, vans and unmarked cars — most from across the Washington area, but some from as far as Boston — trailed the hearse as it wound north to Georgia Avenue NW, past the 4th District station and then to Suitland, where Gibson was buried at Lincoln National Cemetery.

Gibson was stopped at a red light at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW about 3 a.m. Wednesday when a gunman walked up to his car and fired a fusillade of bullets through his window. The officer was struck in the head, neck and torso.

Within moments, police arrested Marthell N. Dean, 23, after they said they saw him toss a gun under a car within a block of the attack.

Dean, a member of the 7th N’ O Crew, was allegedly angry after he and three friends were bounced from the nearby Ibex club by a uniformed D.C. police officer working as a security guard. Investigators said they believe that Dean fired on Gibson in revenge.

Dean later told investigators that he was too drunk to know he was shooting into a police car. He is charged with first-degree murder while armed, which carries a maximum sentence of life without parole, and is being held without bond at the D.C. jail.

Gibson’s slaying was the latest of several brazen attacks on area law enforcement officers. Gibson was the seventh Washington area police officer or federal agent since 1994 to be shot to death by someone who simply walked up and started firing.

The slaying has been met with outrage and action by elected officials. Yesterday, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) introduced legislation to make the murder of a police officer in the District a capital crime. Among the bill’s co-sponsors is Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.).

But Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) released a statement pointing out that District voters rejected the death penalty in a referendum four years ago and decrying congressional intrusion. The statement said Norton expects to meet with Hutchison soon to discuss the bill.

Two days after Gibson was killed, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board suspended the Ibex club’s liquor license. At the same time, the city’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs revoked the club’s business license, shutting it down at least until a hearing is held.
Mayor Marion Barry said his staff was researching what could be done to close other nightspots where go-go shows have attracted violent crowds.

During the funeral, Barry, Soulsby and the Rev. Salvatore Criscuolo, a police chaplain, spoke of Gibson’s dedication to his job and his family. Inspector Michael Fitzgerald, the 4th District commander, noted that in 1995, Gibson was named the midnight shift’s officer of the month eight months out of 12.

Officer Robert Ingram, another close friend of Gibson’s, told the mourners that all Gibson ever wanted to do was patrol in his cruiser. “Let’s not stop patrolling! Let’s get hard, let’s get busy, let’s do it,” Ingram said.

The funeral procession, red-and-blue lights flashing on hundreds of police vehicles, was one of the longest in the city’s history, police veterans said. So many somber-faced residents lined Georgia Avenue NW to pay their respects that they left only enough room for the hearse to get by as it passed the 4th District station.

At the station, it stopped, and officers lined the walkway, saluting family members as they walked toward the yellow brick building.

Gibson’s cruiser — scout car 1413 — was parked out front. The smashed window had been replaced, the blood removed. A single red rose lay on the hood. Gibson’s mother, Shirley A. Gibson, placed her hand there.

“My baby,” she sobbed. “My baby’s car.” 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 11, 1997, PAGE A20

The District’s Public Safety Debate

D.C. POLICE officer Brian T. Gibson was not the first person to die a violent death in the District this year. But the callous and cowardly way in which he was killed still managed to shock and sicken a city that has seen too much bloodshed and wanton murder. When a police officer who represents all that stands between the law-abiding and the lawless is shot dead at point-blank range in cold blood, citizens know — without being told — that a dangerous line has been crossed.

Even in the wake of a horrible slaying of a police officer, there’s no holiday for homicides in the District. Between Officer Gibson’s death early Wednesday morning and his burial yesterday, at least two other people have died violently on District streets. Their murders bring this year’s total to at least 47, which is on a par with last year, when the D.C. homicide rate increased by 10 percent over 1995. Meanwhile, murder rates declined in many other large American cities. It is around those depressing statistics — and the slaying of a police officer — that calls for “drastic action” are now being heard within the city and in Congress.

The proposed actions range from the familiar to the bizarre. A Senate bill sponsored by Utah Republican Orrin Hatch makes all murders in the District a federal offense, thus subject to the death penalty. Another bill, introduced yesterday by Texas GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, makes the murder of a police officer a capital crime. Neither bill strikes us as the best or most effective response to the problem. Besides, they run up against the longstanding opposition of District residents to the death penalty — a position we share. The chairman of the D.C. Fraternal Order of Police’s labor committee, Ron Robertson, wants the police department under the control of an independent commission appointed by the president, Congress and D.C. officials. And the mayor’s contribution? Mr. Barry cites Maryland’s and Virginia’s role as the source of guns on D.C. streets and then takes this observation to the following proposal: “What we need from the federal government is an iron net around Washington.”

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has called on President Clinton to convene a summit on crime at which congressional leaders, the White House and local corporate and government officials could mull over what to do about the crime problem. “Here we sit in the Capitol and in the White House, high and dry, and there’s deterioration going on all around us,” Sen. Lott said. He will get no argument from District residents on that. Weaknesses within the police force and lack of safety on the streets — even in broad daylight and in the company of others — contribute to the concern that local leaders can’t handle the problem. The financial control board is already leading a study to produce recommendations that improve police operations. That route should be pursued with greater urgency. In the meantime, city leaders need to stop finger-pointing, hold their rhetoric in check and cut through the red tape that’s holding up funds for much-needed police equipment, cruisers and other resources. 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 11, 1997, PAGE B5

 GoGo Alliance Offers to Give Concert to Aid Police

Stung by criticism linking go-go performances with violence such as last week’s fatal shooting of D.C. police Officer Brian T. Gibson, the GoGo Alliance announced plans yesterday for a concert to benefit D.C. police — if the city will donate the space.

The trade association representing performers, venue owners and managers will ask the city this week to provide either the D.C. Armory or the Washington Convention Center. The alliance, said Chairman Maurice Shorter, a music promoter, would provide the bands.

In addition to raising funds and improving go-go’s image, the effort is intended to get some guns off the streets. Anyone who turns in an unloaded gun, Shorter said, would be given a pass to attend go-go events for an entire year.

The alliance will request a meeting this week with Mayor Marion Barry. Members noted that in 1994, then-Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly invited go-go bands to perform at an anti-violence rally at the convention center and that many promoters have good relations with some city politicians.
“As soon as they need to draw a big crowd of people, they call us,” said Shorter, declining to name specific politicians. Go-go bands, who perform a raw, percussive sound with roots in rhythm and blues, performed at Barry campaign rallies during his last election.

The alliance’s campaign is a response to attacks on venues that feature go-go bands after a young man thrown out of the Ibex nightclub allegedly shot and killed Gibson. The Ibex’s liquor license was pulled, and Barry asked the police department to compile a list of other clubs that have been hot spots for trouble. Seven clubs have been identified, police sources said.

“Chief {Larry D.} Soulsby has made comments about shutting down venues which house go-go bands,” Shorter said, “but that doesn’t address society’s ills.” He argued that the 100 or so go-go bands in the city provide thousands of jobs directly and indirectly, and keep people out of trouble by providing entertainment.

“We’re involved in a lot of positive things, but you only hear about the shootings and stabbings and fights,” Shorter said. “No one talks about the friendships made” or the positive impact on self-esteem that go-go can have, he said.

“You can be gay or straight or be handicapped or have a mental disorder, but that doesn’t matter in go-go — we put everybody in the spotlight,” Shorter said.

Shorter said the timing of the alliance news conference, held yesterday at the Ibex as Gibson was being buried, was unfortunate. “We didn’t want to do it today, but things didn’t fall into place Saturday, and timing is everything — by later this week, it would have been a dead issue.”
Neither Barry nor Soulsby responded immediately to the idea of a go-go concert sponsored by the city and the alliance. 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 16, 1997, PAGE C8

The Violence in the Streets

Each morning, my wife and I wake up in Fairfax County and drive into Washington with our 14-month-old daughter. We go to work, and our daughter spends the day playing in day care with three playmates, all about the same age. Last month, we drove in one Monday morning to find that our daughter’s teacher had lost her only son to gunfire over the weekend in Southeast. The same bubbly woman who gives our four children such love and affection every day lost her own child to the violence of the D.C. streets. His murder, one of some 45 in the District of Columbia since the first of the year, merited only a single line of news in the morning Post. I suspect that most of the community never noticed.

On Feb. 4, our daughter’s foursome was again shaken when one little girl’s father, Officer Brian Gibson, was brutally murdered earlier that morning. The remaining three children played on in ignorance, while we, the horrified parents, went to work and cried for the little girl who will grow up to never know the father I saw her hug, and for Tracie, her mother, who has been left a young widow.

Although this second tragedy has drawn national coverage, such attention will be fleeting unless enough of us who might otherwise play on in ignorance wake up and call for a frank and painful national discussion about the spreading violence not only in our nation’s capital but in every major city in this country. Officer Gibson’s 23-year-old accused murderer did not have a clean record. He’d been convicted twice, once on a hand-gun offense, and was recently released from prison. Isn’t it time to ask what this individual was doing on the street with a loaded gun in hand? Isn’t it time to admit that our criminal justice system has failed us all, when Washington has suffered more murders in 1997 than the days thus far on the calendar, most committed by recidivists.

Bipartisan proposals aimed at raising the District economically will be rendered futile unless our national leaders make violent crime a priority on the national agenda. Who will invest in a neighborhood where residents fear for their safety every time they leave their home.  We need new proposals that offer more than additional police on the street. We need fresh proposals to improve each level of the criminal justice system. We need more resources for both prosecutors and public defenders, and we need prison reform proposals that will permit reaching out to young nonviolent offenders but, at the same time, will remove repeat violent offenders from the community for the duration of their violent years. Mostly, we need more outrage from the community so that our legislators at every level make safety a priority when composing a legislative agenda.

As a suburbanite, I realize how easy it is to tune out the morning television anchors as they detail the evening’s carnage. I also know that it’s dangerous to dismiss the violence as something that only happens to “those people” in “that part of town.” Eventually, the violence will touch us all if we continue to ignore the problem. 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 15, 1997, PAGE D1

D.C. Crime Down, Barry Says; Mayor Sees `Significant Progress’ in Last 3 1/2 Months

Amid increasing federal scrutiny of the District’s police department, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry yesterday issued a “report card” that he said shows crime in the District is abating.
Standing in front of three charts showing crime decreasing during the last 3 1/2 months compared with the same period a year ago, Barry (D) said at a news conference that his administration is making “significant progress” in its battle against crime.

Barry also said he is reviewing his opposition to the death penalty. The mayor said he recently spoke with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), who, in response to the slaying of a D.C. police officer, introduced legislation this week to impose the death penalty for killers of officers in the District. The 3,000-member Fraternal Order of Police endorsed the legislation yesterday.
Barry noted that the death penalty exists for federal law enforcement officers, a law that applies in the District and throughout the country. At the same time, people who kill D.C. police officers in the District are not subject to the death penalty.

“I’m looking very carefully at that disparity,” Barry said, adding that he would have more to say within 10 days.

Barry also unexpectedly showed up yesterday at a pretrial hearing for Marthell N. Dean, 23, the man charged with slaying Officer Brian T. Gibson in his squad car at a red light last week. Gibson was the seventh police officer or federal agent slain ambush-style in the Washington area in a little more than two years.

The flurry of activity was an effort to try to ward off or mitigate dramatic changes that the D.C. financial control board and members of Congress are considering with respect to the police department, Barry critics said. They said the control board and Congress are laying the groundwork to wrest control of the police department from Barry.

“The sun’s setting on the mayor. It is my opinion that the police department will be taken away from him,” said Ron Robertson, chairman of the FOP’s labor committee.
“It’s plainly evident to anyone who follows these issues that dramatic change is coming to the Metropolitan Police Department,” said Carl Rowan Jr., a leader of the Alliance for Public Safety, a coalition of neighborhood groups, advisory neighborhood commissioners and surviving relatives of homicide victims.

“There has been a dramatic change in the mood of many people who have been looking at this problem for a long time,” Rowan said.

In the wake of Gibson’s slaying last week, Robertson said D.C. police can no longer fully protect the city, and he again called for the federal government to take over the department. A week ago, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said the federal government may have to play a larger role in running the city’s police force.

Meanwhile, at the behest of the control board, Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc., a consulting firm, is conducting a comprehensive review of the police department’s management and operations. The control board and Barry have agreed in writing to make changes the firm recommends.
In D.C. Superior Court yesterday, Dean, the suspect in Gibson’s slaying, was ordered to provide police with palm prints to determine whether they match those found on the officer’s patrol car.

Judge Herbert B. Dixon Jr. issued the order at the request of prosecutors, who are assembling their first-degree murder case against the man suspected of firing four shots into Gibson as he sat in his police car early Feb. 5.

More than 75 people — including relatives of the victim and suspect as well as Barry and a dozen police officers — packed Dixon’s courtroom for what was expected to be the first comprehensive airing of what took place when Gibson was killed at a traffic light at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW.

But the hearing was postponed until Feb. 28 after Dean’s attorney, Claudia Crichlow, said she had a conflict and could no longer represent Dean. Crichlow, of the D.C. Public Defenders Service, said the matter was personal and did not elaborate. Another public defender will take over the case.

Dean, 23, of the 1300 block of Seventh Street NW, said nothing during the brief hearing yesterday. He earlier pleaded not guilty, and he has been jailed since his arrest shortly after the killing.

Police said Dean shot Gibson minutes after being ejected from the Ibex nightclub by a uniformed off-duty D.C. police officer. Dean allegedly got a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol from a car and began walking, stopping at Gibson’s car. Dean has told investigators he was drunk and did not realize he was shooting at a police officer, police say.

Dean’s family declined comment after the hearing. So did Gibson’s relatives.
Barry said he showed up to demonstrate support for the city’s police and to learn more about what he called the assassination of an officer.

The mayor dropped in on Dean’s hearing just after the news conference in which he touted statistics showing that serious crime has decreased during the last 3 1/2 months compared with the same period a year ago.

It was an unusual time period to use. Most officials compare year-to-year crime figures or quarterly tallies. Barry said the figures showed that an anti-crime plan he announced in early November has been effective.

While eight of the 10 largest cities in the United States recorded a decrease of at least 15 percent in homicides last year, homicides in the District increased by about 10 percent.
However, during the last 3 1/2 months, 88 people have been slain in the District, compared with 114 during the same time period a year ago, Barry and police Chief Larry D. Soulsby said.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 16, 1997, PAGE B1

Losing an Officer And a Friend

A black cat sat in the living room window at D.C. police Officer Brian T. Gibson’s home in Southeast Washington.

Ever since Gibson had coaxed the cat from a hideout behind the 4th District headquarters four years ago and brought her home, the cat had waited in the window for Gibson’s midnight shift to end and then jumped for the door at the sight of his patrol car.
“The cat’s just hungry,” Gibson would tell his wife, Tracie, who marveled at the way the cat would purr when his car showed up.

Gibson’s patrol car is now parked just outside the lobby of the 4th District station, with long-stemmed roses on the hood and a black wreath on the grille. A block away, a bouquet of flowers marks the intersection at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW, where Gibson was shot to death 12 days ago while sitting in the car, waiting at a traffic light.
On a recent night, several marked patrol cars were parked in front of the Gibson home, and a stream of uniformed police officers dropped by to pay their respects. But the cat, whom Gibson called “Boo Boo,” never moved to greet them. At one point, she appeared agitated by the comings and goings and bolted from the room.

Officer John Holzwart was talking about Gibson’s car, the one Gibson had let the cat ride in for an entire shift to keep the animal out of the cold.

“Gib loved that car,” Holzwart said. “He and the other guys who took their cruisers home liked to see who had the best wax job.”

Tracie Gibson added, “He even put the baby seat in it.”

Gibson’s patrol car doubled as the family car, a conversion that no doubt helped to soften the line between “the police” and “the community.” In a city where wariness of the police is matched only by the need for police protection, Gibson, a six-year member of the force, had turned one of law enforcement’s most powerful symbols of deterrence into one of his neighborhood’s main attractions.

“The kids would gather around to watch Brian change the oil,” said Shirley Gibson, the officer’s mother. “The 9-, 10-, 13-year-olds liked the way he talked to them, like they were adults. Brian would say, `Hey, man, what did you do in school today?’ His favorite topic was foresight. He’d talk about the criminals he’d caught and how a lack of foresight had been their main problem. The boys were always coming to the door saying, `Mrs. Gibson, can Brian come out and play?’
“I was standing in the window the other day when one of the little boys who used to stop by walked past, and he was crying,” she said.

Gibson was 27. He had grown up in the Hillcrest neighborhood, attended Woodson Senior High School and returned to his home turf with the spick-and-span uniforms of a D.C. police officer, plus the car. He went on to spend seven months in the Persian Gulf as a Marine reservist during Operation Desert Storm.

“All the girls had a crush on him, and all the boys admired him,” said Terrica Gibson, 25, his sister.

Brian had met Tracie when he was 13. They became junior high sweethearts and finally got married four years ago.

“He was the kind of man who always tried to put himself in the other guy’s shoes,” Tracie Gibson recalled. “He didn’t even like going to the zoo. He’d say, `How would you feel if somebody caged you up for no reason?’ He didn’t ride horses, either. He’d say, `How would you like somebody riding your back all the time?’ ”

So it was no surprise to Tracie Gibson when her husband showed up with the cat. (“That cat couldn’t survive the winter,” he had said.) When Tracie Gibson got home from work, she discovered that her husband had bathed the stray in their bathtub and was using her blow-dryer to dry its wet fur.

“Every time I would get off the sofa from sitting next to Brian, that cat would immediately take my place,” she said.

Each visitor told similar stories about Brian Gibson’s compassion and dedication to duty, actions that had earned him “Officer of the Month” awards eight times last year.

Shirley Gibson recalled that three weeks ago, she was driving too fast along the Southeast/Southwest Freeway when she noticed flashing red lights in her rearview mirror. Then came two short blasts of the siren, a signal to pull over immediately.

“My hand was trembling as I held out my driver’s license and then I heard this voice say, `Hey, Ma. You don’t get to catch your mother that often.’ I said, `Boy, you better give me a hug.’ ”
Another visitor, D.C. homicide Detective Eugene Lonon, who was Gibson’s best friend, managed to force a smile but continued to wring his hands.

A 23-year-old man, who police said became irate after being removed from a nightclub by an off-duty police officer, has been charged with first-degree murder in Gibson’s death.
Tracie Gibson remarked that she was not going to let her spirits rise and fall with the inevitable ups and downs of the criminal case. But there would be other matters that she could not possibly anticipate.

It had just dawned on her, for instance, that their 13-month-old daughter, Briana, whose first words were “da da,” had not made that sound lately. And when she went downstairs, she realized that the cat was no longer in the window but was on top of Gibson’s dressing table, curled up in a pile of his clothes.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 23, 1997, PAGE B1

A Fatal Wave Of Ambushes on Officers in D. C.; With 7 Slaying’s in 2 Years. Area Leads Nation in Attacks

Eight times in little more than two years, well-armed gang members from the District have ambushed men and women wearing badges, killing seven — even though the officers posed no immediate threat to their attackers.

It is the latest development in the continuing evolution of violence here and a type of attack that remains rare in the rest of the nation.

No other major city has had more than one such ambush killing this decade, and some, such as Baltimore, Philadelphia and Houston, have had none. But since November 1994, seven police officers and federal agents in the Washington area have been killed, and four wounded, during ambushes. Nationwide, 31 police officers and federal agents have been killed in ambush attacks during the 1990s, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

All the local attacks have occurred since November 1994. Five of the ambush slayings were in the District, and two were in Prince George’s County, but all involved killers from the District.
The ambushes — the most recent of which occurred Feb. 5, when D.C. Police Officer Brian T. Gibson was gunned down as he sat in his cruiser at a red light — have redefined the increasingly bloody lines of engagement between police and Washington’s violent criminals.

“It used to be that even thugs thought killing cops was stupid, because if you do that, you’re gone. No one gets away with that,” said homicide Detective Pam Reed, a 19-year member of the department. “I’ve had old-timers tell me they think these {ambushes} are crazy.”

“It’s redefining the norm. The norm among most of the bad guys has always been that you don’t go out of your way to hurt cops,” said James Fyfe, a criminology professor at Temple University. “The last thing most criminals want to do is kill a cop — they generally want to survive to enjoy the fruits of their crime.”

Each of the local attackers either died in the confrontations or was arrested and is awaiting trial.

Police officials and crime experts aren’t sure what to make of the spate of attacks.

“The tremendous level of violence in the District in recent years has created a great level of disrespect for life and for the authorities. . . . This may be the most extreme end of it,” Fyfe said.

The attacks have made some police officers — already wary because of the high level of violence in the city — downright edgy. Some D.C. police officers have taken to patrolling in their cruisers with their guns in their laps.

“You don’t want citizens running up to you asking for help, especially if they’re young black or Hispanic males,” said D.C. police Officer Keith Raynor, 27, who is assigned to the violence-plagued 6th Police District.

When he joined the force in 1990, Raynor, who is black, assumed he could be at mortal risk while trying to stop a crime or arrest someone. And Raynor was, in fact, shot and wounded three years ago while confronting an unruly crowd. Now, Raynor believes “the ultimate sacrifice could occur at any time. It’s 100 percent different. They’ve rewritten the rule book.”
Police officers and federal agents being slain in the line of duty is nothing new. Since 1797, 1,259 police officers and agents have been killed in attacks on the job, said Craig W. Floyd, chairman of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

But almost all of those killings involved criminals using what Fyfe called “instrumental violence” to avoid detection or capture. Even some of the 31 killings counted as ambushes by the officer’s memorial group occurred during traffic stops.
What’s extraordinary about the Washington area ambushes is their frequency, and the fact that they were pure expressions of hatred and rage against law enforcement.

That rage became deadly in November 1994, when Bennie Lee Lawson, a 25-year-old gang member, carried out a suicide attack: He walked into police headquarters, pulled out a semiautomatic assault weapon and opened fire. Lawson killed two FBI agents and a police sergeant. Wounded by an FBI agent, he shot himself in the head.

At the time, Lawson was a suspect in a previous triple homicide in which he had been questioned. Investigators believe that Lawson wanted to prove to his fellow gang members that he wasn’t a “snitch” and also desperately wanted to avoid going back to prison, where he had been raped while serving time on a weapons violation. Police found rap-like writings by Lawson in which he expressed hatred of, among others, police and “feds.”

Ralph McLean attacked four times in the first half of 1995, ambushing three police officers and one FBI agent, killing two of his victims. He had been jailed numerous times before for petty crimes. Like Lawson, McLean wrote rap-like lyrics that conveyed fierce hatred of police.
Investigators have never established any links among the five men who carried out the eight separate ambushes, though they did have some things in common.

All were members or associates of violent gangs, or crews, which sold crack and other illegal drugs. Before their alleged attacks on police, none had been convicted of any violent crimes involving a weapon. Except for Andre “Drey” Burno, who was 17 when he allegedly shot and wounded D.C. police Officer Gerald Anderson, each of the attackers or suspects was age 23 to 30.

And they all acted on their own, in violation of a principle adhered to through the years by the mob and other criminal outfits: Don’t kill police officers — it’s bad for business. The fellow gang members and associates of some of the killers have learned the truth of that axiom the hard way. Months after Lawson’s attack, FBI agents and D.C. police rounded up most of his fellow crew members on murder and drug charges. All of them are in prison now. Police also cracked down on the fellow drug crew members of Melvin Darnell Pate, 30, who ambushed D.C. police Officer Scott S. Lewis on the street in October 1995.

The escalation of violence began with the arrival of crack cocaine in the second half of the 1980s, which spawned in the eastern half of the city violent gangs who armed themselves heavily and fought over turf and profits. That in turn created a culture of vengeance, with one shooting answered by another.

Initially, most attacks were carried out against one or two people at night, at close range. About four years ago, gang gunmen seeking one or two specific victims began shooting into crowds of uninvolved people. Scores of non-gang members, even children, were wounded in a market, in a public swimming pool, on a playground.

Today, in addition to the attacks on law officers, shots to the head have become prevalent to an unprecedented level — one reason why homicides increased 10 percent in the District last year while they decreased in most major cities, police say.

Meanwhile, there are indications that some hard-core criminals admire the men who ambushed police and federal agents. Such sentiments were displayed in federal and D.C. Superior Court in recent weeks.

Hours after Gibson was killed, Harold Cunningham Jr. was sentenced to life in prison plus 380 years for a rampage of murder, assault and robbery. At his hearing, he took the time to praise cop killers. He mentioned Lawson, McLean and Donzell McCauley, who in 1993 killed a D.C. officer who tried to stop and question him.

He did not know the killers personally, but Cunningham referred to them reverentially, saying, “I have much love for my brothers.”

And Kobi Mowatt, a fellow gang member of Lawson, paid tribute to Lawson moments before a federal judge sentenced him to 35 years in prison for racketeering.

“He represented to the fullest,” Mowatt said, bringing his right arm against his body and pounding his chest. “And that’s my man, my comrade for life.” 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 23, 1997, PAGE C8 (LETTERS TO THE EDITOR)

When an Officer Goes Down: Maybe the death penalty would stop the punks.

In the wee hours of Feb. 5, several young men, angry about being tossed out of a local nightclub, spotted a cop sitting at a traffic light, walked up to the window and watched as one of their number pumped half a clip into the officer’s cruiser. At least four bullets found their mark, and 90 minutes later D.C. Police Officer Brian Gibson was dead.

Official reaction to the unprovoked killing was as predictable as it was ineffectual: The city closed the offending nightclub at Georgia Avenue and Missouri. That action was meant to ensure Washingtonians that no future crimes would occur at that particular location. True enough, but closing one local dive did nothing to make the city safer for our police officers, who must patrol all our streets every hour of every day. They need more than a gesture to protect them.

For many years, many citizens of this city, myself included, have opposed the death penalty. Much of that sentiment has been rooted in the fear that capital punishment disproportionately affects minorities, particularly black men. But in this case the criminal was black, the victim was a black police officer and the attack was unprovoked. What do we tell the wife of Brian Gibson — that trying her husband’s killer for capital murder would be an act of racism?

Long prison sentences seem to have led only to the construction of bigger, more costly prisons where cop killers can be heroes to their fellow criminals. With so many black young men today expecting to go to prison — where they often rejoin their friends or fellow gang members — prison doesn’t appear to be much of a deterrent to crime anymore.

Community and church groups have tried to intervene to stop crime, but their well-intentioned efforts aren’t enough. Many city schools have become almost an extension of the street scene, and in some homes, parenting skills are all but nonexistent.

According to the Washington Council of Governments, 62 state and local police departments patrol the D.C. metropolitan region with help from 13 federal law enforcement agencies. That combined personnel totals 14,000 serving a regional population of approximately 3.8 million. Those figures mean that we have roughly one law enforcement officer for every 273 people in our area. And yet the numbers of heinous crimes — carjacking’s, child molestations, and juvenile homicides — seem to be escalating.

Recently, the Fraternal Order of Police called for a federal government takeover of the D.C. Police Department. That desperation is understandable, but it does nothing to protect the cop on the beat. We need to look at a mandatory death penalty for the premeditated murder of a police officer. It might not end unprovoked violence against our law enforcement officers, but it would mean our society is doing all in its power to prevent such crimes. That has to be our first priority now, because if our police are not safe in our community, none of us is.
— Norman S. Saunders Jr.

The cold-blooded murder of D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Master Patrol Officer Brian Gibson provoked a storm of anger and surprise in Washington. The anger was understandable; the surprise was not.

  1. Random, unprovoked acts of violence such as the one that took Gibson’s life occur daily on the streets of Washington. News of such acts, however, is not typically greeted with the angry speeches, demands for change and appeals for peace that were heard after Gibson’s death.
    That’s because the residents of this beleaguered city have become numb to the violence and death around them. For many, crime is an inevitable byproduct of living here: People are gunned down, homes are burglarized, cars are stolen, and no one is surprised. Instead of marching, organizing and demanding more, we buy anti-theft devices and rush home before dark.

Our apathy about crime makes us tacit participants in a system that allows it to continue. As crime after crime is committed, the communities in which these acts occur remain silent, and burglars, murderers and robbers feel free to go right ahead with business as usual.

This acceptance of crime is symptomatic of a larger, more troubling apathy. We settle for less of everything here in Washington — whether it’s our schools, the pavement of the roads on which we drive or the purity of the water we drink. But the ultimate blame for our state of affairs lies not with Congress, Marion Barry or any other single source. It lies with us, and with our inability — or unwillingness — to demand more. We created this mess by allowing the system to numb us into a disgruntled sense of powerlessness.

But the fact that we created the mess also means that we can fix it. The march that followed Officer Gibson’s murder that led to the closing of the nightclub demonstrates that when we emerge from our apathetic stupor, we can get things done. Neighborhood activism can bring change. Small steps can start us on the path toward the safe, clean, enriching community we can be.

Do we ultimately care enough about Washington, and about our own potential, to do better? We must ask that question every day, not just when a police officer is senselessly killed. Brian Gibson protected us in life. If we commit to answering that question affirmatively, we will do much more than close a nightclub. We will finally achieve our great potential.

— Timothy J. Heaphy
is an assistant U.S. attorney
for the District. 

I worked with D.C. Police Officer Brian Gibson. He did not give his life in the performance of his duty, as people like to say. His life was taken from him by a petty hood who had been arrested nine times before only to be turned loose again each time.

Brian Gibson tried to improve his city. He is dead now not because of the Ibex nightclub, or because of guns from Virginia and Maryland, as the mayor believes. Nor is he dead because he was at the wrong place at the wrong time, as the police chief says. Brian Gibson is dead because the rest of the people in this city did not do their jobs.

Brian arrested killers every day and saw them out on the street the next. The frustration he felt — that all police officers feel — mounted as he watched our community and religious leaders reach for the spotlight or duck it, as the case may be, while missing or ignoring the real issue: that criminals are running rampant and unpunished.

Brian’s fellow officers kept a vigil at the spot where he was murdered, and the media came to see. But why didn’t the TV cameras show the local drug dealer hanging out as usual across the street, talking loudly as though mocking our grief? Why didn’t the press mention how few members of the community that Brian patrolled came out to share our vigil?

Shutting the Ibex nightclub, where the killer got drunk, has nothing to do with why Brian is dead. Letting his killer walk free after his first nine arrests is the problem. A police department not supported by its leaders or its community, that lacks proper equipment and — no surprise — suffers from low morale, undoubtedly is part of the problem. But the real reason Brian is dead is that we simply have stopped enforcing the law.

Closing the Ibex won’t do much to make the city safer. Shutting down the killer’s Seventh and O Street crew and the other gangs like it — that’s what’s needed.

On Feb. 10 I attended Brian Gibson’s funeral. There again I experienced the same outrage I felt at the vigil. Mayor Barry made a speech blaming Brian’s death on the guns coming into the District from Maryland and Virginia. D.C. Police Chief Larry Soulsby pointed to a lack of youth centers. The District’s chief judge blamed an underfunded police department. But as a police officer in the District, I and my fellow officers know where the fault really lies — with the mayor, the chief, the judge and the citizens who allow the criminals to go free.

— Robert D. Calligaro is an officer in the 4th District of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MARCH 1, 1997, PAGE B3

Police Claim Suspect Said He Shot Officer; Tests Indicate District Nightclub Patron Was Drunk at the Time

Marthell N. Dean initially blamed a friend for killing D.C. police officer Brian T. Gibson last month, but after police pressed him for details, Dean said he pulled the trigger, a detective said yesterday.

Testifying at a preliminary hearing in D.C. Superior Court, Detective Robert Parker said tests indicated that Dean was drunk at the time of the killing, with an estimated blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit for driving in the District.

Although Gibson was in uniform in his marked cruiser when he was shot, Parker said Dean insisted that he did not know he was shooting at an officer.

Dean “said he would never shoot a police officer,” Parker testified. “He said he didn’t know who he was shooting at, that he was just shooting at a car.”

Gibson, 27, was hit three times in the head and once in the shoulder; another bullet lodged in his bulletproof vest. Parker said the last of the five shots was fired after Gibson was dead, hitting him behind the left ear.

In his testimony, Parker presented the most comprehensive picture so far of the Feb. 5 slaying at Georgia and Missouri Avenues NW, near the Ibex night club. Gibson was killed moments after Dean was ordered out of the club by an off-duty D.C. police officer for bumping into other patrons and trying to pick a fight, Parker said. Gibson, he said, was on patrol in the area and had no idea what had happened at the Ibex.

Parker said that Dean told him he had been drinking throughout the night but that he did not appear intoxicated after his arrest and answered questions coherently without slurring his words.
But Parker said a toxicologist estimated that Dean’s blood-alcohol level was between 0.22 percent and 0.28 percent at the time of the killing. In the District, a person is considered drunk with a blood-alcohol level of 0.10 percent.

The estimate was based on a series of Breathalyzer tests given to Dean about 12 hours after the killing, Parker testified. Police also administered a blood test, Parker said, but the blood was improperly packaged and stored and results from that examination are of no value.
The estimate could prove critical if Dean is tried on a charge of first-degree murder while armed. His attorneys, William W. Taylor III and Steven M. Salky, said in court that they will cite the alcohol tests to question whether Gibson’s killing was premeditated and deliberate — two key elements of first-degree murder.

Dean, 23, of the 1300 block of Seventh Street NW, listened attentively but showed no emotion during the two-hour hearing before Judge Herbert B. Dixon Jr. The hearing is scheduled to resume Friday, when Assistant U.S. Attorney June M. Jeffries will present additional evidence.
Dixon will then decide if there is enough evidence to justify moving forward on the first-degree murder charge against Dean.

Dean was arrested minutes after the shooting when police — responding to a complaint of gunshots in the area — saw him walking along Georgia Avenue with a gun, Parker said. He threw a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol to the ground before he was arrested, the detective testified, and a later test indicated that it was the weapon used to kill Gibson.

Dean initially told police that a friend had killed Gibson and then handed him the gun.
The friend, a 25-year-old D.C. man, told police that he gave Dean the gun that night but that Dean fired it, Parker said. 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MARCH 11, 1997, PAGE E3

Suspect Admitted Shooting at Car, Detective Says

Marthell N. Dean initially blamed a friend for last month’s killing of D.C. police Officer Brian T. Gibson. But when police kept pressing for details, he acknowledged pulling the trigger, a detective testified yesterday.

At the time he was shot, Gibson was in uniform in his marked cruiser, which was stopped at a traffic light. But Dean — who allegedly fired five shots into the car at very close range — insisted that he did not know he was shooting at an officer, said Detective Robert Parker.

“He said he didn’t know who he was shooting at, that he was just shooting at a car,” Parker said.

Testifying at a hearing in D.C. Superior Court, Parker said the killing, early Feb. 5 at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW, occurred just after Dean was ordered out of the nearby Ibex club by an off-duty officer for allegedly trying to pick a fight. Dean, 23, of the 1300 block of Seventh Street NW, was arrested minutes later.

Parker said Dean told him he had been drinking throughout the night. A toxicologist estimated that Dean’s blood alcohol level may have been as high as 0.28 — nearly three times the legal definition of intoxication in the District, Parker said.

That detail could prove critical to the government’s efforts to convict Dean of first-degree murder while armed. Dean’s attorneys, William W. Taylor III and Steven M. Salky, said in court that they likely will cite the alcohol tests to question whether Gibson’s killing was premeditated and deliberate, two key ingredients to proving a first-degree murder case and winning the maximum possible prison sentence of life without parole.

The matter is scheduled to resume Friday before Judge Herbert B. Dixon Jr.

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PARTIAL WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MARCH 27, 1997, PAGE J9

Heroism by City Public Safety Officers Honored

At this year’s event, chaired by retired police chief Maurice J. Cullinane, the medals were presented by Mayor Marion Barry (D), Police Chief Larry D. Soulsby, Fire Chief Otis J. Latin Sr. and Corrections Director Margaret A. Moore.

A crowd of 550 people packed into the ANA Hotel for what organizers said was the largest meritorious award luncheon in recent years.

But the luncheon quickly turned from a celebratory ceremony to a tear-tinged memorial service as awards were given posthumously to a corrections officer who was slain and three police officers who were killed — two of them recently.

Master Patrol Officer Brian T. Gibson, who was on routine patrol and had stopped at a red light at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW when he was shot several times by a man who had been ejected from a nearby nightclub, was awarded the gold medal. Oliver W. Smith Jr., who was forced to the ground outside his home in Forestville and executed when his assailants discovered he was an officer, was awarded the silver medal. Anthony W. Simms, who died of injuries he suffered when he was struck by a pick-up truck last year while stopping a speeding driver in the Ninth Street Tunnel, also was awarded a silver medal.

D.C. police Officer Joseph J. Welsh, who saved a man who was speeding away from police when his car crashed through a barricade into the Anacostia River. Welsh braved the cold water despite excruciating pain in his foot, which was crushed between a wooden piling and a vessel after he slipped as he jumped into the river.

The president’s award, given to members of the fire, police and corrections departments who died representing their department as a result of an unprovoked attack, was awarded to Gibson, Smith and corrections officer Amos Williams, who was killed by a gunman in a shopping center in Prince George’s County.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED APRIL 20, 1997, PAGE C8 (LETTERS TO THE EDITOR)

Crime Report; I want to do my job, but I’m handcuffed . . .

One day you may find a badge lying in the street on the D.C. side of the 14th Street Bridge. If you do, please return it to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, and tell the officers there that “they” have won, that I have given up.

Tell them that I have gone back to my family and friends, who worry about my safety. Tell them that my girlfriend no longer will have to say, half-jokingly, “Have a good night at work — don’t get shot.” Tell them that I decided being a D.C. cop isn’t worth the sacrifice. Of course, you may never have to tell them any of this. The day I quit and throw my badge out the window in disgust hasn’t come . . . yet.

But that day almost came last March, when things were at their worst: D.C. police officers’ already low salaries were cut by 12 percent, and we didn’t have enough police cars — or gas to put in them. We had no paper for the copy machine, no forms for reporting crimes and making arrests, no toilet paper in the locker room. Low morale bred fistfights at roll call and, of course, crime continued to run rampant.

That day almost came again in February, when I returned from the funeral for D.C. Police Officer Brian Gibson and learned that my girlfriend had been robbed in front of my home in Northwest. In fact, that day always is in my mind.

Just recently, for example, I had to tell a club owner to turn his music down because the neighbors were complaining.

“What about the drug dealers standing on the sidewalk in front of my store every night?” he demanded. “Why are you wasting your time with my music?”

I explained that I couldn’t do anything about the drug dealers outside because I had no “probable cause” to take police action, and the dealers undoubtedly had no intention of giving me any.

When I left the club I brushed off the sarcastic greetings from the dealers and returned to my patrol car. But I felt dejected and ineffectual. I also wondered where I was going to get a form for my incident report.

As I gripped the steering wheel, the stiff and swollen ring finger of my left hand increased my frustration. I sustained the injury about a year ago when I was kicked in the hand by a suspected drug dealer who was resisting arrest. He also had kicked another officer in the knee and bit Officer Brian Gibson on the hand. Surgery could not repair my finger, the officer’s knee injury required medical attention, and Brian Gibson was left with a scar on his hand. A year later, I still receive hospital bills that the police department has failed to pay. The suspect, who assaulted and injured three police officers, was given a sentence of 10 weekends in jail.

In the District, it is the rule rather than the exception that criminals like the one who bit Brian regain their freedom easily. The killer who shot Brian in the back of the head while Brian sat in his police car at a red light had been arrested nine times before. Shortly after Brian’s death, D.C. Police Officer Oliver Smith was slain by a killer who also had a history of arrests. At the moment, both Brian’s and Oliver’s killers are back in jail, but for how long?

Many people seem to believe that police officers can, to quote the police department’s mission statement, “eliminate crime, the fear of crime, and general disorder while establishing respect and trust within the community.” Few, however, can fail to understand that given the present conditions, the police can’t fulfill that mission. The Metropolitan Police Department has been run into the ground, and its officers feel victimized, frustrated and grossly dissatisfied. But we continue to try to do our jobs.

But how do we “eliminate crime” if we can’t eliminate criminals? How can we eliminate the “fear of crime” if we can’t eliminate criminals? How can we maintain order when criminals run rampant? And how can we establish anything within the community when a true sense of “community” doesn’t exist?

We could perform our duties if we had adequate leadership, support and equipment. We could stop auto thieves if we were allowed to chase them. We could arrest known drug dealers if we were allowed to search their clothing and recover the drugs. We could deter violent crime if violent offenders feared the law more than they feared their enemies. And we could arrest all of the criminals if someone would stop letting them go free.

I carry a gun and a badge to work every day. The gun doesn’t mean much — everyone has one — and the badge doesn’t mean much more — while honest people respect it, criminals laugh at it.
Police officers want to do their jobs and make a difference. But whether the day comes when a badge is found lying in the street on the D.C. side of the 14th Street Bridge really will depend on whether citizens and government can make a sincere commitment to fight crime in the District.

— Robert D. Calligaro
is an officer in the 4th District of D.C. Metropolitan Police Department.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JUNE 5, 1997, PAGE B7

Man Indicted in Slaying of Officer

Marthell N. Dean was indicted yesterday on first-degree murder and other charges stemming from the killing of D.C. police Officer Brian T. Gibson.

A grand jury in D.C. Superior Court also indicted Dean on charges of assault on a police officer with a dangerous weapon, carrying a firearm without a license and possession of a handgun during a crime of violence. If convicted, Dean, 23, could face life in prison with no chance of parole.

Gibson, 27, was in full police uniform in his marked cruiser when he was shot early Feb. 5 while stopped at a traffic light at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW. Dean was arrested soon after the killing.

Dean, of the 1300 block of Seventh Street NW, has been jailed since his arrest. He is scheduled to appear in court June 17 for an arraignment.
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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JUNE 18, 1997, PAGE B5

Suspect in Slaying Of D.C. Officer Pleads Not Guilty

Marthell N. Dean, charged with first-degree murder in the February shooting death of D.C. police Officer Brian T. Gibson, pleaded not guilty yesterday in D.C. Superior Court.

Dean, 23, of the 1300 block of Seventh Street NW, allegedly fired five shots at close range into Gibson’s squad car as Gibson waited at a red light at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW about 3:30 a.m. on Feb. 5. Authorities allege that Dean specifically targeted the police officer after being ordered out of a nearby nightclub minutes before by an off-duty officer working as a security guard.

Dean’s attorneys have suggested that he was too intoxicated at the time — his blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal definition of intoxication — for the shooting to have been premeditated. His trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 6 before Judge Herbert B. Dixon Jr. If convicted, Dean could face a maximum prison sentence of life without parole.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED OCTOBER 16, 1997, PAGE D3

Ceremony Recalls Officers Killed on Duty

Special tribute was paid yesterday during the sixth anniversary observance of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to five area police officers who were slain in the last 12 months.
Honored, along with their families, were D.C. Officers Brian T. Gibson, Oliver W. Smith Jr. and Robert T. Johnson Jr., Virginia State Trooper Gregory P. Fleenor and Baltimore Lt. Owen E. Sweeney Jr.

“Unlike other soldiers whom we have memorialized with national monuments, there is no end in sight to the war fought by our peace officers,” said Craig Floyd, the memorial’s chairman. He noted a 37 percent increase in the number of officers killed this year compared with the same period a year ago.

The memorial, in the 400 block of E Street NW, honors the memory of more than 14,000 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JANUARY 9, 1998, PAGE B5

Jury Selection Begins in Officer’s Slaying

Jury selection began yesterday in the case of Marthell N. Dean, the Northwest Washington man facing first-degree murder and other charges in the shooting last year of D.C. police officer Brian T. Gibson.

Dean, 24, could be sentenced to life in prison without parole if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick H. Weisberg told prospective jurors yesterday the trial likely will take at least three weeks. It probably will start Jan. 20, Weisberg told them.
Gibson, 27, was in full uniform in his marked cruiser when he was shot early Feb. 5 at a traffic light at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW. The shooting came minutes after Dean was ordered out of the nearby Ibex nightclub by an off-duty police officer.

Dean, who was arrested soon after the killing, gave police a statement in which he admitted shooting Gibson. However, he told detectives that he did not know Gibson was an officer.
Dean’s attorneys have contended that he was highly intoxicated and have suggested that Dean did not have the mental capacity at the time to act with premeditation and deliberation, two essential elements of first-degree murder.

Yesterday, Weisberg barred news reporters and spectators from attending most of the jury selection process. His secretary, Vanessa Searles, said jury candidates were occupying all of the courtroom’s available seats.

The judge, who declined to comment, turned down a request from The Washington Post, the Washington Times and the Associated Press to permit one pool reporter to observe the early phase of jury selection.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JANUARY 18, 1998, PAGE B10

Man Accused of Killing D.C. Officer Ready to Present a Cognac Defense; Suspect Was Too Drunk to Commit 1st-Degree Murder, Lawyers Say

D.C. police officer Brian T. Gibson, 27, had no chance to defend himself that early morning last February.

Gibson was stopped in his marked cruiser at a traffic light at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW when gunfire erupted in the darkness and bullets burst through the car’s driver-side window, hitting him four times at close range — twice in the head, once in the neck, once in the shoulder. His right foot was still on the car’s brake pedal when his fellow officers found him.
Marthell N. Dean, then 23, was arrested minutes after the unprovoked slaying — taken into custody after allegedly throwing down the gun that had been used in the killing. He was handcuffed a half-block from the intersection where Gibson had been attacked, not far from the Ibex nightclub, where Dean earlier had been drinking and from which he had been ejected. Later, according to pretrial testimony by police, Dean admitted to investigators that he had opened fire on the officer.

With Dean’s trial set to begin this week in D.C. Superior Court, however, defense lawyers are prepared to argue that the seemingly straightforward events of Feb. 5 are complicated by a legal wrinkle — one they hope will save their client from a first-degree murder conviction of a police officer, which is punishable by life in prison without parole.

At issue is the question of how drunk Dean was at the time of the shooting — whether he was so impaired by alcohol that he could not have exercised the thought processes legally necessary to commit first-degree murder, a crime that involves clear intent and premeditation. Dean has pleaded not guilty in the slaying.

His attorneys, in pretrial hearings, have laid the groundwork to argue that even if their client did shoot Gibson, the slaying was a lesser form of murder than first-degree, considering Dean’s alcohol-clouded state of mind that morning.

Nine men and nine women have been chosen as jurors and alternates for the trial, which will begin after several preliminary legal issues have been resolved. Opening statements could come Thursday. During jury selection last week, prospective panel members were asked numerous questions about their views on alcohol abuse.

Gibson was the first of three D.C. police officers slain during a three-month period last year and the only one of the three to be killed while on duty. His death generated powerful emotions throughout the city and led Mayor Marion Barry (D) and others to call for a death-penalty law to cover the first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer. The current maximum penalty is life without parole.

Prosecutors said the shooting came minutes after Dean was ejected by a uniformed, off-duty D.C. police officer from the Ibex nightclub, in the 5800 block of Georgia Avenue NW. Dean allegedly got a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol from a car and began walking, stopping at Gibson’s patrol car. Gibson was not involved in the Ibex incident and was working his usual midnight shift.

The details of Dean’s arrest and the events subsequent to it have emerged at a series of pretrial hearings during the last two weeks that focused on Dean’s mental state at the time of the slaying.

He was arrested moments after the shooting when police spotted him allegedly running north on Georgia Avenue. Two plainclothes officers, responding to a call about gunshots near the Ibex, testified last week that they saw Dean throw a gun beneath a parked car. The weapon was the .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol later determined to be the weapon used in Gibson’s killing. As the officers spoke with Dean, they heard a chilling radio broadcast: “Officer down.”
Until then, they said, they had no idea a colleague had been shot.

Police said Dean, of the 1300 block of Seventh Street NW, initially told them that a friend of his had killed Gibson. He allegedly provided officers with a full description of the friend and identified the kind of car he believed his friend had been driving.

Several hours later, however, he told investigators that he had fired the shots, according to police. They said Dean told investigators that he had been unaware that Gibson was a police officer — even though Gibson was in full uniform in a marked car. Robert Parker, the homicide detective who interviewed Dean, testified, “He said he didn’t know who he was shooting at, he was just shooting at a car.”

Dean’s drinking can become an issue at trial only if the defense shows it was excessive enough to have affected his actions. The defense’s argument appears to be bolstered by the results of a series of Breathalyzer tests administered to Dean about 12 hours after the killing. Based on those findings, toxicologists estimated that his blood-alcohol reading at the time of the slaying would have ranged from 0.22 to 0.28 percent — more than twice the legal limit for driving in the District.

According to police, Dean told them he had consumed a pint of cognac earlier that night, shared a fifth of cognac with about seven people, shared champagne with friends, and had cognac mixed with Coca-Cola at the nightclub. But in hearings last week, prosecutors sought to show that he was in control of his mental faculties during and after the attack.

Numerous police witnesses testified that Dean showed no signs of staggering, slurred speech or memory loss. Officer Kenneth Hillman, who arrested Dean, said he was calm and clear in his initial contention that the other man had committed the crime. Gregory Archer, a homicide detective, testified he smelled alcohol on Dean’s breath at police headquarters but saw no evidence of other symptoms and had no reason to suspect that Dean was intoxicated.
Dean listened attentively last week as the police and doctors sought to analyze his behavior. He has been held at the D.C. jail since his arrest.
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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JANUARY 23, 1998, PAGE B3

D.C. Officer’s Alleged Killer Goes on Trial; Defense Accuses Police Of Fabricating Case

Marthell N. Dean’s defense attorneys immediately took the offensive as he went on trial yesterday, accused of ambushing and killing D.C. police officer Brian T. Gibson. The lawyer’s alleged police manufactured the case against Dean and deliberately ignored leads pointing to other suspects.

“Ladies and gentlemen, there has been one senseless tragedy. It won’t be made any better by creating another one by sending an innocent man to jail,” defense attorney Elizabeth G. Taylor told the D.C. Superior Court jury and a packed courtroom in opening statements.

Dean, 24, of Northwest Washington, listened intently as lawyers on both sides outlined their cases for a trial expected to last at least three weeks. His mother was among the spectators in the courtroom, as were Gibson’s relatives. Dean has pleaded not guilty to murder of a police officer and other charges that carry a maximum prison sentence of life without parole.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frederick W. Yette told the jury that the government’s case is powerful and clear-cut. Three witnesses said they saw a man wearing a striped shirt beside Gibson’s police cruiser at 3 a.m. last Feb. 5, then heard gunshots. Dean, who was wearing a striped shirt, was arrested moments later, a half-block from Georgia and Missouri avenues NW, where the killing took place. Yette said police saw Dean throw a gun to the ground that turned out to be the .45-caliber pistol used in the officer’s killing. Glass fragments, apparently from Gibson’s car, were found in Dean’s shirt, Yette said.

Gibson, 27, a highly decorated officer from the 4th District, was in uniform in his cruiser when he was shot. Yette said Dean fired five times and missed just once. Gibson was hit in the head, neck and shoulder.

The slaying came shortly after an off-duty D.C. police officer ejected Dean from the nearby Ibex nightclub. Gibson had nothing to do with that incident.

Dean told police initially that an acquaintance who was with him at the Ibex, Juan L. Wilson, 26, shot the officer. Wilson, however, told police that he saw Dean get a gun and approach the police car. Police said they believed Wilson and charged Dean. Once he was charged, according to prosecutors and police, Dean changed his story and said he had fired at Gibson’s car but insisted he did not know Gibson was a police officer. Dean later refused to put an account in writing or make a videotaped statement.

“No matter how much he tries to shake off the blame for this murder onto Juan Wilson or somebody else, he can’t shake off the evidence,” Yette said.
Defense lawyers spent the last week in pretrial hearings arguing that Dean’s statements to police should not be admitted at trial. Among other things, they contended that Dean was heavily intoxicated and that homicide detectives coerced him into talking. But Judge Frederick H. Weisberg ruled yesterday that prosecutors can use both the denials and purported confession.

Taylor launched a spirited counterattack in her opening remarks. “Although the police desperately wanted a confession from Marthell Dean, they did not get one,” she said. “When the police couldn’t force a confession from Marthell Dean, they made one up.”

According to Taylor, Wilson gave Dean the gun after Gibson was shot and told him to run. “Marthell Dean had the gun used to shoot Officer Gibson, but that’s not the end of the story,” Taylor told the jury.

At the pretrial hearings, defense lawyers laid the groundwork to argue that even if Dean shot Gibson, he was too intoxicated to do so intentionally. That strategy could have spared Dean a conviction of the most serious charge of first-degree murder, which requires premeditation and intent. Taylor did not use that argument yesterday.
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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JANUARY 24, 1998, PAGE C5

Man Fingered by Defendant Testifies in Officer’s Slaying; Witness Says He Urged Alleged Killer — Who Was `Talking Crazy’ — to Go Home on Fatal Night

Moments after last February’s unprovoked slaying of D.C. police officer Brian T. Gibson, Marthell N. Dean told authorities he had nothing to do with the shooting. “It wasn’t me, it wasn’t me,” police quoted him as saying. “Juan did it.”

Police ultimately decided that it was Dean who had killed the officer by firing a flurry of gunshots into his patrol car. Yesterday, the man Dean had blamed — Juan L. Wilson — was a key government witness at Dean’s first-degree murder trial in D.C. Superior Court. Dean, 24, has pleaded not guilty to murder of a police officer and other charges.

In opening arguments Thursday, prosecutors said Dean later admitted shooting Gibson. Dean’s attorneys said that he never made any such statement and that police manufactured that claim in hopes of quickly solving the case.

Dean’s attorneys also maintained that Wilson or another of Wilson’s friends killed Gibson. Although Dean was seen by police throwing aside the pistol used in the killing, defense attorneys told jurors that Dean got the weapon from Wilson and never fired it. They will pursue that contention when they begin to cross-examine Wilson on Monday.

Yesterday, Wilson’s testimony pointed to Dean as the killer.

Wilson, 26, testified that he was with Dean early Feb. 5, first at the Ibex nightclub and then on the street where Gibson was shot. Wilson said he and Dean were with a group of acquaintances celebrating a friend’s birthday.

While Wilson and his friends danced to go-go music, drank, talked and posed for pictures, Dean was kicked out of the Ibex for causing trouble, Wilson said. An off-duty D.C. police officer, working at the Ibex, grabbed Dean by the shirt and ejected him from the club, Wilson said.
Wilson testified that he followed Dean outside, to the intersection of Georgia and Missouri avenues NW, where he saw Dean brandishing a gun.

“I told him he needed to go home,” Wilson said. “Maybe the alcohol or something was talking for him, because he was talking crazy. He said, `I ain’t going nowhere.’ To me, that’s talking crazy. . . . I put my arms around him and tried to walk him to his car. He told me to get off of him.”

Wilson said he was so concerned about Dean’s behavior that he went to a pay telephone to call Dean’s sister. He said Dean was right behind him, with his hands on the gun, when he began dialing the number. Seconds later, Wilson testified, he heard a series of gunshots. He insisted that he did not see the shooting. Gibson, 27, was caught by surprise as he sat in his car, stopped at a traffic light at the intersection. He was shot four times at close range.

Assistant U.S. Attorney June M. Jeffries asked what happened next.

“I didn’t stick around to see. I didn’t stick around to ask,” Wilson testified. “I broke {ran} when I heard the shots.”

Dean, caught a short time later as he ran along Georgia Avenue, identified Wilson as the gunman. He also told police what kind of clothes Wilson was wearing, where he lived and what kind of car he was driving that night. Police launched a massive search, finding Wilson back at the Ibex. He was questioned by homicide detectives, and Dean then emerged as the key suspect. 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JANUARY 27, 1998, PAGE B7

Testimony Challenged in Police Slaying; Witness Hiding Role, Defense Lawyer Says

A lawyer for accused cop-killer Marthell N. Dean attacked the credibility of one of the prosecution’s key witnesses in Dean’s trial yesterday, accusing him of lying to cover up his own involvement in the slaying of D.C. police officer Brian T. Gibson.

The witness, Juan L. Wilson, acknowledged that he was held for several hours at police headquarters after Gibson’s death — much of the time handcuffed to the floor — but pointed out that police ultimately decided he had nothing to do with the crime. Wilson testified that he saw Dean with a gun moments before the Feb. 5 killing, but he said he did not see the actual shooting.

Wilson said he heard a rapid series of gunshots, but “I didn’t know what was going on.” His testimony that Dean had a gun is central to the prosecution.

“You were a suspect in this case, weren’t you?” Dean’s attorney, Steven M. Salky, asked Wilson during cross-examination in D.C. Superior Court.

“You could say that,” Wilson replied.

“You needed to find a story to keep the suspicion off of you,” Salky said.
“I didn’t do nothin’, so I didn’t need a story,” Wilson answered.

Dean, 24, is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Gibson, 27, who was shot in the early-morning darkness as he sat in his patrol car at a traffic light at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW.

The killing came after an off-duty D.C. police officer ejected Dean from the nearby Ibex night club for rowdy behavior. Wilson testified that he followed Dean outside and tried to calm him down. Dean was captured a half-block away after police allegedly saw him throwing down the gun used in the killing. He told police he got the weapon from Wilson.

At first, according to police, Dean told investigators that Wilson shot the officer, gave him the gun and told him to run. Dean gave police a detailed description of Wilson, which led to Wilson’s apprehension outside the Ibex and the questioning at police headquarters that followed. Prosecutors have alleged that Dean later admitted firing the shots himself, but Dean’s attorneys say that he made no such statement.

Wilson, 26, was not charged in Gibson’s death. He testified that he and Dean knew each other for years and went to the Ibex with a group of acquaintances. He said they were celebrating the birthday of Louis G. Butler, 22, who at the time was wanted by D.C. police on charges stemming from a 1996 killing. Wilson said that he knew Butler was “on the run.” Butler later pleaded guilty to acting as an accessory in that case.

Dean’s attorneys said in opening statements last week that Wilson could have played a part in Gibson’s killing to keep the officer away from Butler. Prosecutors said there is no evidence to support this, but Judge Frederick H. Weisberg is permitting the defense to explore the theory.
At one point yesterday, Salky showed Wilson the .45-caliber pistol used to kill Gibson and demanded, “That’s your gun, isn’t it, sir?”

Wilson responded quickly, “I don’t own a gun, so it can’t be mine.” 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 4, 1998, PAGE B1

D.C. Police Didn’t Record Alleged Murder Confession

A key part of the prosecution’s case against Marthell N. Dean — his purported confession in the slaying of District police officer Brian T. Gibson last February — was not recorded on videotape or audiotape or put into writing by police, a homicide detective testified yesterday in D.C. Superior Court.

The detective, Robert L. Parker, also said he did not take notes as Dean allegedly confessed to killing Gibson, who was shot to death in an unprovoked attack while he was stopped at a traffic light in a marked police car in Northwest Washington.

“I didn’t want to distract him,” Parker told a jury in Dean’s trial. “I didn’t want to interrupt him while he was talking.”

Dean, 24, on trial on a charge of first-degree murder and other counts, has denied giving the confession or having any involvement in the officer’s slaying. Defense lawyers contend that Parker and other detectives made up their account of the alleged confession so they could make a quick arrest in a high-profile case. The lawyers said they will press that issue when they cross-examine Parker today.

Parker, who led the police investigation, testified that he intended to get Dean to repeat his statements later on tape, so he did not consider it necessary to take notes during the interrogation. Two other detectives who sat in on the interview also took no notes at the time, Parker said.

But Dean later refused to make a tape recording or talk any further, according to Parker. That has robbed the prosecution of what often is its strongest evidence in a murder trial — a documented confession.

Dean’s trial, which is nearing the end of its second week, has included several unexpected developments. A key government witness, Juan L. Wilson, who testified that he saw Dean with a gun shortly before Gibson was shot, was accused by defense lawyers of lying to cover up his own involvement in the crime. Another government witness, Kevin Curtis, who told police last year that he also saw Dean with a gun just before the shooting, recanted that account on the witness stand.

Gibson, 27, was in full police uniform in his marked cruiser when he was shot in the early-morning darkness while stopped at a traffic light at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW. The shooting came minutes after Dean had been ordered out of the nearby Ibex nightclub by an off-duty police officer. Curtis, Wilson and several other men had been at the nightclub with Dean.
Dean, of Northwest Washington, was arrested after police allegedly saw him throw down the gun used in the killing. They allegedly saw him toss away the weapon on Georgia Avenue NW, a half-block from the shooting scene. Police said Dean initially told them that Wilson had fired the shots and then had given him the gun.

Dean reiterated that account after being taken to police headquarters for questioning, Parker said. “I told him he was lying,” Parker testified. “I was being blunt. I was firing questions at him, one after the next. I said, `You know you did the shooting.’ It went on like this for 20 minutes.”
Parker said Dean finally agreed to confess but wanted to speak with his grandmother first. He said he told Dean he could make that call, but only after he told the truth about what had taken place.

Parker said Dean then told him and the other detectives that he had fired three or four shots into Gibson’s police car at a traffic light. “He said he didn’t know who was in the car or that the person was a police officer,” Parker said.

After that conversation, Parker said, he permitted Dean to call his family. Police officials then performed Breathalyzer and blood tests on Dean to measure how heavily he had been drinking at the time of the killing. By the time those tests were over, Dean had made two more telephone calls to his family. After that, he refused to make any tapes or talk any further with police, Parker said. 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 10, 1998, PAGE B5

D.C. Detective Tells Court of Watching Confession; Defense Claims Accused Killer Didn’t Make Statement Admitting He Shot Police Officer

A D.C. police homicide detective, whose testimony could be crucial to the prosecution’s murder case against Marthell N. Dean, told a D.C. Superior Court jury yesterday that he watched on a closed-circuit television monitor as Dean lowered his head and confessed to the slaying of police officer Brian T. Gibson.

Detective Anthony Brigidini, who came forward last week to say that he witnessed the alleged confession, was called to the witness stand by prosecutors to corroborate the accounts of three detectives who conducted the interrogation. None of those detectives took notes during their conversation with Dean, and they failed in their efforts to get Dean to repeat his alleged confession later in writing or on videotape.

The confession allegedly came when detectives interviewed Dean at police headquarters at 10:45 a.m. on Feb. 5, 1997, nearly eight hours after Gibson had been shot to death in his patrol car while stopped at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW. The alleged confession has become the central issue in Dean’s trial, with defense lawyers contending that Dean never admitted to killing the officer.

Defense lawyers sought to bar Brigidini from testifying, saying they found it inconceivable that he would come forward a year later — and then only after learning that Dean’s alleged confession was being challenged in court. Judge Frederick H. Weisberg, who expressed similar doubts, decided yesterday to permit him to testify.

Brigidini said he was in police headquarters while Dean was being questioned and decided to watch the closed-circuit monitor out of curiosity.

According to Brigidini — as well as the detectives who conducted the interrogation — Dean told police that he had fired at Gibson but had not realized that he was shooting at an officer. Brigidini testified that he took no notes because he was not involved in the case.

Elizabeth Taylor, one of Dean’s attorneys, repeatedly accused Brigidini of fabricating his account after talking last week with Robert L. Parker, the lead detective on the case, who had done most of the questioning of Dean. Brigidini said he saw a news report last Wednesday about the alleged confession having become a matter of dispute in the trial.

Dean, 24, could be sentenced to life in prison without parole if convicted of killing Gibson, 27. For months, his defense team had led prosecutors to believe that they planned to argue that Dean was too intoxicated at the time of the slaying to have killed the officer with deliberate premeditation. In court yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney June M. Jeffries said prosecutors were surprised when the defense announced its strategy, to assert that Dean had not committed the killing.

Brigidini said he assumed that Dean’s statements were being videotaped. “In my mind, they had the person who shot and killed Brian Gibson,” he said. “He had confessed, as far as I was concerned. It was over.”
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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 5, 1998, PAGE D7

Confession Contested in Officer’s Slaying

Attorneys for Marthell N. Dean went on the attack yesterday in D.C. Superior Court, vigorously challenging a police detective’s testimony that Dean had confessed to the slaying of D.C. police officer Brian T. Gibson shortly after the unprovoked shooting a year ago today.

Dean’s attorneys contended that police have no proof of their assertions that Dean admitted to the shooting. There is no written confession, and police did not tape record or videotape one or even take notes. Their inability to back up their testimony with a signed or taped statement from Dean has emerged as a major issue in his trial on charges that include first-degree murder.

On Tuesday, Detective Robert L. Parker testified that he listened to Dean’s confession without taking notes because he didn’t want to distract him. He said that several hours later, when he asked Dean, 24, to repeat his confession so that police could videotape it, Dean refused.
Yesterday, defense attorney Elizabeth Taylor asked Parker questions designed to raise doubts in jurors’ minds about the alleged confession.

Parker repeatedly insisted, “It is my testimony I had the confession.”

“If you have a videotape, the jury doesn’t have to take your word for it, do they?” Taylor asked him. “They can see and hear for themselves.”

“That’s correct, yes,” Parker replied.

Parker’s methods were backed by a colleague who testified that he also heard a confession. Detective Charles Porter testified that he rarely takes notes during interrogations. “Basically what you do, you sit down, interview the subject, get whatever story they have and make a decision whether you will get a videotaped or written statement,” Porter said.

But Taylor pointed out that Parker had taken at least 10 pages of notes at the crime scene and several pages of notes during interviews with other witnesses. Yet, she said, he did not put any of Dean’s remarks into writing until much later, when he summarized them in a written report.

Gibson, 27, was shot four times at 3 a.m. last Feb. 5 as he sat, in full uniform, in his marked police car at a traffic light at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW. Police arrested Dean within minutes of the killing, a half-block away, after they saw him toss aside the handgun allegedly used in the slaying. At the scene, he allegedly told police that a friend had done the shooting and had then handed him the gun.

Parker testified yesterday that he and another detective, Paul Wingate, began their questioning of Dean at police headquarters at 10:45 a.m. — more than seven hours after the shooting — in an office known as “the blue room.” A third detective, Porter, later joined them in the interview, Parker said. He said that they hoped from the start to get a confession and that they wanted the statement preserved on videotape.

Dean initially denied firing the shots, Parker said. He said that he challenged Dean’s story and that Dean then made his first admission of guilt about 20 minutes into the interrogation. Dean told the detectives that he fired into Gibson’s car, but that he had not known that Gibson was a police officer, Parker told the jury.

Parker testified that detectives had hoped Dean would later make a videotaped statement but did not ask him to do so until 4 p.m. By then, Dean had made at least three telephone calls to family members. His sister has testified that in one of the calls, she warned him to stop talking with police.

Parker said he wanted to interview Dean much sooner than 10:45 a.m. but that supervisors told him to wait until the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms could test Dean’s hands for evidence that he had fired a weapon. That test was not done until 10:15 a.m., Parker said, four hours after police had asked ATF for assistance. As it turned out, the test did not show conclusively that Dean had fired a gun.

“If we had not been waiting for ATF to show up at the homicide branch, Mr. Dean would have been interviewed at 6, 6:30 or 7 o’clock” that morning, Parker testified.
The questioning ended at 1 p.m., Parker said. He said that he intended to ask Dean to repeat his statement immediately for a video camera but that supervisors wanted Dean to provide a blood sample first so that authorities could attempt to determine whether he had been intoxicated at the time of the shooting.

After the blood sample was taken, Parker said, his supervisors told him they needed to have Dean take a Breathalyzer test, as well. It was not until 4 p.m. that Parker said he got his chance to arrange a videotape, and then Dean said no.

The blood test eventually proved to have been a waste of time. Dean’s blood sample was improperly packaged and stored and the results are of no value.
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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 7, 1998, PAGE C2

Detective Says He Listened Over TV as Suspect Confessed to Officer’s Slaying

District prosecutors, hoping to repair damage to their case against Marthell N. Dean in the slaying of a D.C. police officer, have asked a judge to allow surprise testimony from a detective who contends that he heard Dean confess to the killing — a confession that Dean has denied making and that other detectives failed to document.

But the judge in the case said this week that he found aspects of the detective’s story “unbelievable,” and he gave prosecutors little reason to hope that jurors in the D.C. Superior Court trial will hear his testimony.

The new witness, homicide Detective Anthony Brigidini, came forward Wednesday, telling prosecutors that without his colleagues knowing it, he watched over closed-circuit television as they interrogated Dean after his arrest Feb. 5, 1997, in the unprovoked shooting of Officer Brian T. Gibson.

Assistant U.S. attorneys June M. Jeffries and Frederick W. Yette hope to use Brigidini’s testimony to buttress the credibility of homicide detectives who have told the jury that Dean confessed during the interrogation but that they took no notes. The detectives have said that when they later tried to get the confession in writing or on videotape or audiotape, Dean declined to repeat it.

The detectives have said they did not take notes when Dean began telling his story because they did not want to distract him.

Although Judge Frederick H. Weisberg said yesterday that he would not rule until next week on whether to allow Bigidini’s testimony, he did not give prosecutors much reason for hope, saying he was suspicious of the detective’s sudden emergence as a witness.

Yette told the judge in court Thursday that Brigidini did not come forward until Wednesday, after he saw a news report that Dean’s alleged confession had become an issue of dispute in the trial. Yette said that Brigidini had been watching the interrogation out of curiosity about the man suspected of killing Gibson and that other detectives in the homicide unit may also have been watching.

“Once Detective Brigidini saw what he believed was a confession, where Mr. Dean admitted that he had done the shooting, he left,” Yette said. “It was not his case. He didn’t take any notes. He didn’t say anything.”

But Weisberg said he found it “unbelievable” that Brigidini and perhaps others had been silent for a year.

“Give me a break!” the judge said. He said his initial reaction was that Brigidini “almost doesn’t deserve to be heard further,” but said he would take the matter under consideration.
“They’re watching the interview of the prime suspect of a police officer’s killing over the monitor and hear a confession and, because it’s somebody else’s case, don’t tell anybody that they heard it?” Weisberg said. “I’d be hard-pressed to allow this to come in and surprise the defense.”

Witnesses have given conflicting accounts of events surrounding the slaying of Gibson, 27. He was shot four times at 3 a.m. as he sat in uniform in his patrol car at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW, waiting at a traffic light in the rain.

An acquaintance of Dean, Juan Wilson, testified for the prosecution that he saw Dean get a gun moments after Dean was ejected from the nearby Ibex nightclub, shortly before the shooting. Another acquaintance, Kevin Curtis, told a grand jury that he also had seen Dean with a weapon. But Curtis recanted that testimony at Dean’s trial, saying that police had pressured him into saying Dean was armed. He said he saw no gun.

Dean, now 24, was arrested after the shooting when police allegedly saw him toss aside the gun that prosecutors say was used in the killing. He initially told police that another man had shot Gibson and then had handed him the weapon.

At police headquarters later, detectives questioned Dean, Wilson, Curtis and a friend of theirs, Terrell Turner. A forensic chemist from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms swabbed Dean’s hands for gunpowder residue or other evidence that he had fired a handgun. The chemist, William Kinard, testified Thursday that he found no residue on Dean’s hands.
According to Kinard, residue typically disappears eight hours after a gun is fired. His tests were conducted seven hours after the killing. 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 10, 1998, PAGE B5

D.C. Detective Tells Court of Watching Confession; Defense Claims Accused Killer Didn’t Make Statement Admitting He Shot Police Officer

 A D.C. police homicide detective, whose testimony could be crucial to the prosecution’s murder case against Marthell N. Dean, told a D.C. Superior Court jury yesterday that he watched on a closed-circuit television monitor as Dean lowered his head and confessed to the slaying of police officer Brian T. Gibson.

Detective Anthony Brigidini, who came forward last week to say that he witnessed the alleged confession, was called to the witness stand by prosecutors to corroborate the accounts of three detectives who conducted the interrogation. None of those detectives took notes during their conversation with Dean, and they failed in their efforts to get Dean to repeat his alleged confession later in writing or on videotape.

The confession allegedly came when detectives interviewed Dean at police headquarters at 10:45 a.m. on Feb. 5, 1997, nearly eight hours after Gibson had been shot to death in his patrol car while stopped at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW. The alleged confession has become the central issue in Dean’s trial, with defense lawyers contending that Dean never admitted to killing the officer.

Defense lawyers sought to bar Brigidini from testifying, saying they found it inconceivable that he would come forward a year later — and then only after learning that Dean’s alleged confession was being challenged in court. Judge Frederick H. Weisberg, who expressed similar doubts, decided yesterday to permit him to testify.

Brigidini said he was in police headquarters while Dean was being questioned and decided to watch the closed-circuit monitor out of curiosity.

According to Brigidini — as well as the detectives who conducted the interrogation — Dean told police that he had fired at Gibson but had not realized that he was shooting at an officer. Brigidini testified that he took no notes because he was not involved in the case.

Elizabeth Taylor, one of Dean’s attorneys, repeatedly accused Brigidini of fabricating his account after talking last week with Robert L. Parker, the lead detective on the case, who had done most of the questioning of Dean. Brigidini said he saw a news report last Wednesday about the alleged confession having become a matter of dispute in the trial.

Dean, 24, could be sentenced to life in prison without parole if convicted of killing Gibson, 27. For months, his defense team had led prosecutors to believe that they planned to argue that Dean was too intoxicated at the time of the slaying to have killed the officer with deliberate premeditation. In court yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney June M. Jeffries said prosecutors were surprised when the defense announced its strategy, to assert that Dean had not committed the killing.

Brigidini said he assumed that Dean’s statements were being videotaped. “In my mind, they had the person who shot and killed Brian Gibson,” he said. “He had confessed, as far as I was concerned. It was over.”

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 11, 1998, PAGE B7

Witness Fails to Explain Gunshot Residue; Defense Suggests Friend of the Accused May Have Shot Officer Outside Ibex Nightclub

A longtime friend of Marthell N. Dean who authorities initially suspected had taken part in the slaying of a D.C. police officer was unable to explain in court yesterday why he — and not Dean — had gunshot residue on his hand.

Terrell Turner, 21, was cleared by police of any involvement in the Feb. 5, 1997, slaying of Officer Brian T. Gibson, even though tests showed he had either fired a weapon or was nearby when gunshots were fired. Police concluded that Dean alone was responsible for the attack at a stoplight in Northwest Washington.

Both the prosecution and defense wanted to hear from Turner in Dean’s trial in D.C. Superior Court on first-degree murder charges. Dean’s attorneys contend that Dean did not kill Gibson but that Turner or one of Turner’s acquaintances might have. Prosecutors wanted to call Turner to the stand to dispel suspicions raised by the defense.

Turner, who along with Dean and two other men was checked for gunshot residue by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms after Gibson’s slaying, was the only one to have any on his hands.

An ATF specialist said that the residue could have dissipated from Dean’s hands but that its presence on Turner meant he had fired a gun or was near gunfire.

“Do you have an explanation for those results?” Assistant U.S. Attorney June M. Jeffries asked. Turner answered, “No, ma’am.”

Turner told lawyers on both sides that he did not fire or carry any weapons in the hours surrounding the slaying nor was he near any gunfire. He, like Dean, had been at the Ibex nightclub shortly before Gibson was slain as he sat in his patrol car at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW. Prosecutors contend that Dean fired on the 27-year-old officer after he was ejected from the club. Turner testified that he was still in the Ibex when the killing took place.
Dean initially told police that another friend, Juan Wilson, had fired at Gibson. Dean provided police with a description of Wilson, as well as information about the car Wilson was driving. Police found Wilson outside the Ibex and took him into custody for questioning. A short time later, they found Turner and another friend, Kevin Curtis, driving off in Wilson’s car.
Defense attorney Steven Salky challenged Turner’s failure to explain the residue, asking repeatedly, “You never handled a gun?” Turner said he hadn’t.

Turner, who lived near Dean in the 1300 block of Seventh Street NW, was not charged in Gibson’s death. He has not been free of legal troubles, however.

In court yesterday, lawyers revealed that Turner was arrested on Jan. 22 — the day opening statements were given in Dean’s trial — on a charge of assault with intent to kill while armed. He and two other suspects were accused of shooting a man in the chest. The charge against Turner was dismissed, but prosecutors said the matter is being reviewed by a grand jury.
Defense lawyers have argued that police targeted Dean prematurely and overlooked other suspects. Prosecutors maintain that the evidence against Dean is overwhelming; they say he had the gun and he eventually confessed to the crime.

The defense maintains that Dean got the gun from Wilson and never confessed.
The government rested its case yesterday after calling one of its most important witnesses: an FBI specialist who said that glass found on Dean’s clothing matched fragments taken from the shattered driver’s side window of Gibson’s patrol car. The first shot to hit Gibson was fired through the window. All told, he was hit three times in the head and once in the shoulder.
Maureen Bottrell testified that four of 22 fragments lifted from Dean’s hair and clothing were of the type of glass found in the patrol car. She said she examined clothing from Turner, Wilson and Curtis and found no glass.

Defense attorneys argued that Dean picked up the fragments when police forced him to the pavement after the killing. Bottrell pointed out, however, that Dean was caught 318 feet from the cruiser and said that studies have shown glass cannot travel anywhere near that distance after gunfire.

The defense is scheduled to begin its case today before Judge Frederick H. Weisberg. The attorneys have not said whether Dean, 24, will testify.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 12, 1998, PAGE B4

Defendant’s Friend Challenged Again; Defense Attorneys Rest Case In Slaying of D.C. Policeman

Marthell N. Dean’s attorneys rested their case in D.C. Superior Court yesterday without calling Dean to the witness stand to defend himself against a charge that he killed D.C. police officer Brian T. Gibson. Instead, the defense made one last attempt to pin the crime on someone else.
Throughout Dean’s three-week trial, his attorneys have argued that Dean is an innocent man and that any of the acquaintances who were with him Feb. 5, 1997, could have ambushed Gibson, who was shot to death at a traffic light in Northwest Washington in the early morning darkness.

The lawyers have talked at length about at least three other suspects, all of whom were cleared by police.

Yesterday, their focus returned to Juan Wilson, 26, a longtime friend of Dean’s who was with him the night of the killing. Wilson was the only prosecution witness to testify that he saw Dean with a gun moments before the slaying, although he said he did not see Dean fire the weapon at Gibson.

The killing took place at 3 a.m. at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW, after an off-duty D.C. police officer ejected Dean, 24, from the nearby Ibex nightclub for rowdy behavior.
Wilson followed Dean outside. Gibson, unaware of problems at the nightclub, was stopped in his patrol car when he was shot. The 27-year-old officer was hit four times and never had a chance to defend himself.

Defense attorneys accused Wilson of lying when he testified Jan. 23 for the prosecution; they claimed he was covering up his involvement in the slaying. Yesterday, they called him back to the witness stand and challenged him again.

“I’m going to say this for the record,” Wilson testified in a firm voice. “I never shot no cop. The man never did nothing to me. I don’t have a gun to shoot anyone. . . . I saw Marthell with the gun. I didn’t see the police car.”

Dean’s attorneys then launched an attack on Wilson’s credibility by presenting testimony from two witnesses who said they heard Wilson admit taking part in the killing. Wilson insisted he never made the alleged remarks.

The first witness, 15-year-old Shavon Stewart, quoted Wilson as saying last summer, “The last time I busted a 45 was at the Ibex.” She testified that she took that to mean he had fired a .45-caliber pistol at the police officer.

The second witness, Edmond P. Johnson, 47, testified that he overheard Wilson make incriminating statements on Jan. 28 — in the middle of the trial — when he saw him at the O Street Market in the Shaw neighborhood of Northwest Washington.

Johnson, who said he has known Wilson for years, said he was standing next to Wilson when Wilson got into a conversation with four other friends about what they called “the police case.”
“Someone asked Mr. Wilson how the case was going,” Johnson testified. “I heard him say that they know that he did it, that somebody is going to testify against him, that he was just waiting for somebody to pick him up.”

Dean was arrested a half-block from Gibson’s patrol car after police allegedly saw him throw down the gun used in the slaying.

At first he told police, “Juan did it,” and claimed that Wilson gave him the gun. Homicide detectives said Dean later admitted that he shot Gibson.

Dean’s attorneys have contended that he never took responsibility for the attack. 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 13, 1998, PAGE B1

Little Seems Certain as Case Of Slain Officer Goes to Jury

When homicide detectives arrested Marthell N. Dean one year ago in the killing of D.C. police officer Brian T. Gibson, the case looked like a lock. After all, police arrested him within minutes of the shooting, just half a block from Gibson’s bullet-riddled patrol car, after seeing him toss away the gun used in the slaying. Later, at police headquarters, Dean allegedly admitted firing the fatal shots.

Now, with the first-degree murder case going to a jury in D.C. Superior Court, the outcome is not so certain. For the last three weeks, Dean’s lawyers have challenged virtually every aspect of the police investigation — even claiming that police manufactured the alleged confession, which was neither signed by Dean nor videotaped. The defense team repeatedly accused police of sloppy work, raised questions about prosecution witnesses and yesterday urged the jury to acquit him of all charges.

“They had a man in custody shortly after the crime was committed,” defense attorney Steven Salky told jurors in closing arguments yesterday. “They had what turned out to be the murder weapon. They closed their minds and they closed the case. . . . But you can’t be sure exactly what happened.”

It was an aggressive defense, and some of the weaknesses Salky cited were created by the police department’s management of the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney June M. Jeffries defended the police in court, telling the jury that tenacious and thorough detective work led to only one conclusion: Dean, 24, brazenly fired four shots into Gibson’s patrol car at close range while the 27-year-old officer was stopped at a traffic light at 3 a.m. Feb. 5, 1997.

“Is the Metropolitan Police Department so wacky, so inept, that they would just want to make an easy arrest and call it a day?” Jeffries asked the jury. “Would they just want to let the real murderer of one of their officers continue to walk the streets where he could execute someone else?”

Jeffries said that Dean alone was caught running from the crime and that he had the murder weapon. “The person who shot and killed and ambushed Brian Gibson that morning has been sitting in this courtroom every day,” she told the jury, adding that everything adds up, including glass fragments taken from Dean’s clothing that are similar to those taken from Gibson’s car.

But Dean’s statements to police — once the cornerstone of the government’s case — came under defense attack because the three detectives who interviewed him did not take notes during the interrogation or get him to make admissions in writing or on tape. The detectives said Dean told them that he shot Gibson at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW, moments after being ejected from the nearby Ibex nightclub, but that he did not realize he was firing at a patrol car.

Sgt. Robert L. Parker, the lead detective on the case, testified that he interviewed Dean from 10:45 a.m. Feb. 5 until 1 p.m. He said he took no notes so that he wouldn’t distract Dean.

Parker testified that he intended to then ask Dean to make a videotaped statement, but that his supervisors told him they instead wanted to test Dean’s blood and breath for signs of alcohol. Parker and other detectives said police do not videotape suspects without their permission.
By the time the alcohol testing was complete — at 4 p.m. — Dean had made a series of telephone calls to his relatives. He declined to make a tape.

As it turned out, the blood sample was not preserved properly. The Breathalyzer test results were used to determine that Dean’s blood alcohol level would have been at least 0.22 percent at the time of Gibson’s shooting — or more than twice the legal limit in the District for driving.
Defense attorneys initially led prosecutors to believe that they would argue in court that Dean was too drunk to have killed Gibson deliberately, taking away a critical element of first-degree murder. But on the day the trial began, the defense surprised both the prosecution and police by arguing that Dean never made a confession and was innocent. Dean’s statements — and not his mental state — became the overriding issue.

Parker also testified that he wanted to interrogate Dean much earlier in the morning but that his supervisors first wanted to have Dean’s hands, and the hands of three other suspects, tested for signs of gunshot residue. He said he waited for more than three hours until a specialist from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms showed up to perform the tests.

The specialist, William Kinard, testified that gunshot residue disappears over time and that it usually is gone completely within eight hours. His tests were administered seven hours after Gibson was slain. Dean’s hands showed no signs of residue, but those of another suspect — Terrell Turner — did. Police concluded that Turner was not involved in the killing, but the test results enabled the defense to argue yesterday that he might have been.

Jeffries told the jury yesterday that rainy conditions at the time of the killing most likely took away any residue on Dean’s hands.

She pointed out that one witness, Kevin Curtis, told a grand jury that he saw Dean with a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol three hours before the killing, and that another witness, Juan Wilson, said he saw Dean with the gun just before the shooting.

Curtis recanted his grand jury testimony when he appeared in court, but he also stunned lawyers on both sides when he said he would lie on the witness stand for a friend. As for Wilson, the defense sought once again yesterday to portray him as Gibson’s killer. They noted that Dean initially told police that Wilson gave him the gun and that he saw Wilson fire the gunshots.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 14, 1998, PAGE C7

Dean Jury Recesses Until Tuesday

A D.C. Superior Court jury began deliberations yesterday in the case against Marthell N. Dean, but recessed for the weekend without deciding whether he should be convicted of killing District police officer Brian Gibson.

Dean, 24, is accused of first-degree murder and other charges in the Feb. 5, 1997, killing of Gibson, who was shot four times while stopped at a traffic light in his patrol car at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW. Dean could face a maximum prison term of life without parole if the jury convicts him. The jurors will resume work Tuesday. 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 18, 1998, PAGE B5

Dean Jury Calls Itself `Hopelessly Deadlocked’; Judge Tells Panel to Continue Deliberating in Trial of Man Accused of Killing D.C. Police Officer

The jury in the murder trial of Marthell N. Dean declared itself “hopelessly deadlocked” yesterday, but the D.C. Superior Court judge held out hope that a verdict might still be reached with further deliberations in the slaying of D.C. police officer Brian T. Gibson.

“We are hopelessly deadlocked!!” the jurors wrote to Judge Frederick H. Weisberg, in a late-afternoon note that brought lawyers from both sides scurrying to the courthouse. The two exclamation marks appeared to signal that tensions were high after two days of deliberations.
In light of those punctuation marks, defense lawyer Steven Salky asked Weisberg to send jurors home and declare a mistrial. That would have meant Dean’s retrial on first-degree murder and other charges for the February 1997 slaying of Gibson. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Frederick Yette said it is not unusual for juries to take more than two days to decide murder cases and he asked for more time.

Weisberg said that he wasn’t ready to give up. He noted that jurors had listened to three weeks of testimony and arguments in “a relatively long trial” and said it would take time to sort the accounts of dozens of witnesses. He then called the jurors back into the courtroom and told them to keep working.

“Nothing is final, nothing is fixed,” he said, urging jurors to get a fresh start today. “No opinion you’ve expressed is a final one. You should always keep an open view . . . to see if you can reach a unanimous decision.”

The jury members showed no reaction to Weisberg’s remarks and then left for the day. It was the only communication received from the jury yesterday. The jurors were told last week that they could ask to see exhibits and other material accumulated during the trial, but have only asked the judge to confirm one detail: the time of the shooting.

Jurors left the courtroom looking agitated and exhausted. Members of the Gibson and Dean families, who attended the trial daily and have stayed nearby awaiting a verdict, also appeared emotionally drained at day’s end.

Lawyers on both sides declined to comment on the developments.

Dean, 24, of the 1300 block of Seventh Street NW, could face a maximum prison term of life without parole if convicted of the unprovoked killing of Gibson early last Feb. 5. Gibson, 27, a highly decorated officer from the 4th District, was shot as he sat in his marked police car at a traffic light at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW. He was hit at close range three times in the head and once in the shoulder.

Police arrested Dean a half-block from the scene after officers saw him with the .45-caliber pistol that had been used in the killing. Dean told police that he got the weapon from a friend who he said had done the shooting, an assertion that his lawyers made during the trial. Police maintained that Dean later confessed to firing the shots, telling detectives that he didn’t realize Gibson was a police officer. Defense lawyers contend he never confessed.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 19, 1998, PAGE D1

D.C. Man Found Guilty in Slaying of Officer; Jury Overcomes Deadlock in Troubled Case

Marthell N. Dean was convicted of murder and other charges yesterday in the unprovoked slaying of D.C. police officer Brian T. Gibson, verdicts that a sent a wave of relief through the city’s beleaguered police force, especially among detectives who had spent months building a case that at times appeared to be crumbling in court.

Dean bit his lower lip and looked directly at jurors as the guilty verdicts were read in D.C. Superior Court, climaxing a three-week trial in which the testimony of some government witnesses appeared to hurt the prosecution’s case more than help it.

The slain officer’s relatives, seated in the spectator gallery, clutched one another’s hands and quietly wept as Dean, 24, was convicted of first-degree murder by a jury that a day earlier had declared itself “hopelessly deadlocked.”

“This won’t bring closure to our lives,” said Gibson’s mother, Shirley, who attended the trial daily. “It doesn’t bring Brian back. But the person who did this to my son will be away for the rest of his life. I get a little comfort knowing that.”

Courtroom 318 was packed with spectators, forcing numerous police officers to wait outside the doors. When the verdicts were delivered, an officer in the courtroom peered through the glass of the doors at his colleagues and winked repeatedly.

“Guilty!” one officer outside exclaimed, seeing the signal.

“Good deal!” said another.

“Piece of {expletive},” a third declared, referring to Dean.

Meanwhile, at the police department’s 4th District station, on Georgia Avenue in Northwest Washington, where Gibson had been assigned, the officers who had worked with him learned of the guilty verdicts in a somber radio message.

“Guilty, guilty, guilty,” Detective John Flynn announced softly on his police radio at 2:40 p.m., informing officers on the street of the jury’s decision. “Let’s have a moment of silence for Officer Gibson.”

Judge Frederick H. Weisberg scheduled sentencing for April 23. Dean, convicted of first-degree murder of a police officer and two weapon charges, faces a mandatory life prison sentence without parole eligibility.

The verdicts came in a trial in which the actions of homicide detectives after Dean’s arrest were vigorously challenged by Dean’s attorneys.

Detectives testified that Dean confessed to the slaying but that they failed to document it in writing or on videotape or audiotape. But defense lawyers asserted that the detectives were lying about the purported confession and argued that evidence in the case suggested that someone else had killed Gibson. He was shot to death Feb. 5, 1997, as he sat in his patrol car in the early morning darkness, waiting at a traffic light at Missouri and Georgia avenues NW.
Two jurors in the case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the panel, which began deliberating Friday, convicted Dean despite serious misgivings about the police work in the case. “The sloppy police work was really the reason we were deadlocked for so long,” one of the jurors said. “That really threw a monkey wrench into our deliberations. For that to happen in the cold-blooded murder of a police officer, we were speechless.”

He and the other juror said they felt that detectives had “bungled” the case.
“God, I would have thought that when it was one of their own people brutally killed that someone would have taken better control,” the other juror said.

Gibson, 27, was caught by surprise at 3 a.m. as he sat in uniform in his marked police car. He was shot in the head and shoulders by the gunman. The killing came after Dean had been ejected from the nearby Ibex nightclub by a uniformed off-duty D.C. police officer. Prosecutors said Dean went to his car, retrieved a .45-caliber pistol and then approached Gibson’s cruiser and opened fire.

Dean was arrested just 70 seconds after the gunshots, when patrol officers saw him a half-block from the crime scene. The officers testified that Dean had the gun that turned out to have been used in the slaying.

A failure to win a murder conviction would have been a devastating blow to the department’s homicide branch, which has been the focus of unrelenting public criticism in recent months — since studies by outside management consultants revealed a history of poor performance and mismanagement in the unit. Dozens of detectives and other officers worked on the Gibson slaying case. Some of their actions caused problems in the trial.

For example, Robert L. Parker, the lead detective on the case, said his interrogation of Dean did not start for nearly eight hours after the killing and Dean’s arrest because supervisors wanted Dean’s hands to be tested first for gunshot residue. Parker testified that he waited hours for a forensic specialist to show up to conduct the test. The specialist found no residue on Dean but said such chemical traces typically disappear within eight hours of firing a gun.

Once the interrogation finally began and Dean allegedly confessed to killing Gibson, Parker testified, he did not take notes because he did not want to distract Dean.

He said he wanted to get a videotaped statement. But supervisors ordered that Dean’s blood and breath be tested first for alcohol. By the time those tests were done — three hours later — Dean had spoken by phone with family members and had decided not to talk with the detectives.

According to the two jurors who were interviewed yesterday, half the panel did not believe Dean had confessed — though, after much deliberating, they came to believe he had killed Gibson. They were swayed to guilty verdicts by the fact that he had the gun in his possession and had been caught so quickly, and they believed his ejection from the Ibex provided a motive, the two jurors said.

Parker, who is now a patrol sergeant in the 4th District, was so nervous about the outcome that he chose to stay at the station yesterday instead of going to court. After the verdicts, he said he felt “like a 200-pound man just jumped off my shoulders.”

“If they had come back with a not guilty, I would have had to stand in the courtroom and look at {Gibson’s} mom and face her,” Parker said.

“I never want to go through this again,” he said. “I will never want to investigate the homicide of another officer again.”

Parker called the criticism of his handling of the investigation “unfair” and pointed out that his supervisors made many of the contested decisions.

“You have all these officials who come in and call the shots,” Parker said. “We treated it like we treat all homicides. But they made us do certain things, like giving Marthell a Breathalyzer. Since when do we do that for homicide cases?”
Assistant U.S. Attorney June M. Jeffries said Dean’s quick arrest, after police saw him throw the gun to the street, was the key to the case. She defended the police work, saying, “The police did everything I asked them to do and more, before the trial and during the trial.”
Gibson’s widow, Tracie, echoed those views, saying: “There was no question in my mind. The police don’t want the real killer of my husband walking around. They were sure they had the real killer, and the jury was, too.”
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PARTIAL WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MARCH 20, 1998, PAGE C3

Honoring a Commitment Beyond Duty; D.C. Police, Firefighters, Corrections Officers Recognized for Meritorious Service

Three D.C. police officers were honored for their efforts to save the life of police officer Brian Gibson, who was shot to death while sitting in his patrol car on Feb. 5, 1997. Lt. Mario Patrizio, who ran two blocks from the department’s 4th District station, took turns with Detective Gerald Burke Jr. in administering CPR to Gibson, while Officer David Gaither tried to stop Gibson’s bleeding.

Burke called the honor “bittersweet,” as he and Patrizio hugged Gibson’s parents, Shirley and Harrison Gibson, who were sitting in the audience.

“These are the most special people,” Shirley Gibson said.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED APRIL 24, 1998, PAGE C1

D.C. Officer’s Killer Given Life Sentence; Policeman Was Slain Sitting at Traffic Light

Her son, a D.C. police officer, was killed last year when a gunman ambushed him in his patrol car. Yesterday, Shirley Gibson got her first chance to speak to the convicted assailant, Marthell N. Dean, as he sat in D.C. Superior Court, about to be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

“You didn’t know my son, or the type of person or man he was,” Shirley Gibson began, standing less than 10 feet from Dean and his lawyers. “My son loved life. He loved living. Everything about him showed that. He loved being a police officer. Ever since he was 8, he wanted to be a police officer.

“My son didn’t know you and he didn’t deserve to have to leave behind a wife, a daughter who is 12 and who will not even acknowledge that her dad is dead, and a 13-month-old daughter who will never get the chance to know him.”

Dean looked at Shirley Gibson as she spoke, but showed no emotion. The mother of the slain officer, however, began crying when she returned to sit beside her husband in the gallery.
In large part, the outcome of yesterday’s proceeding was a foregone conclusion. Dean, 24, was convicted by a jury Feb. 18 of the first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, an offense punishable under District law by a mandatory life term without parole. Judge Frederick H. Weisberg imposed that sentence, saying, “I cannot imagine a more heinous, atrocious or cruel homicide.”

But the proceeding offered a venue for the airing of pent-up emotions. Besides hearing from Shirley Gibson, Weisberg listened to Dean’s mother, Lillie C. Spruill, who spoke in defense of her son. Dean cried after his mother’s remarks and then, in a shaky voice, declared: “I am sorry for what happened, but I did not commit this murder. I maintain my innocence now and until I leave the face of this earth.”

Brian T. Gibson, 27, was a decorated master patrol officer assigned to the department’s 4th District, north of downtown.

Dean is an eighth-grade dropout who has been in and out of trouble with the law since age 16. Prosecutors said he was a longtime crack dealer.

He was accused of shooting Gibson on Feb. 5, 1997, as the officer sat in his patrol car in the early morning darkness, waiting at a traffic light at Missouri and Georgia avenues NW. Assistant U.S. Attorney June M. Jeffries said yesterday that Dean was inches away when he fired four shots into the patrol car.

The shooting came after Dean had been ejected from the nearby Ibex nightclub by a uniformed off-duty D.C. police officer. Gibson, who had nothing to do with what happened at the Ibex, was in full uniform and on a routine patrol. He died within blocks of the 4th District station.
Dozens of people packed into the courtroom yesterday, including Gibson’s widow, Tracie, who held their 13-month-old daughter. U.S. Attorney Wilma A. Lewis showed up, as did numerous colleagues of Gibson’s, many in uniform.

Shirley Gibson, 52, said later that she directed her comments to Dean, instead of the judge, because, “I did not want {Dean} to spend the rest of his life not knowing about Brian Gibson from a family’s point of view.”

More than 1,200 people submitted letters to Weisberg urging that Dean get the maximum possible penalty.

Dean’s attorneys also submitted letters, including some that described him as a “gentle” person who “fell prey to life on the streets.” His mother accused the police — in a letter to the judge and again yesterday in court — of bungling the investigation. She called his three-week trial “a textbook case in reasonable doubt.” She expressed sympathy for Gibson’s family but said, “They don’t really care who goes to jail as long as someone does. Someone has to pay.”

Dean was arrested just 70 seconds after the shooting, when patrol officers saw him a half-block from the crime scene. The officers testified that they saw Dean thrown down the gun that turned out to have been used in the slaying. Several hours later, according to homicide detectives, Dean admitted that he had fired the shots.

Despite that evidence, prosecutors had to overcome many obstacles in the trial. Homicide detectives failed to get Dean’s alleged admissions on videotape and did not take notes during the questioning. Their actions deeply troubled several jurors, who said that they were appalled by what they felt was shockingly sloppy work in such an important case. The jury, at one point, declared itself “hopelessly deadlocked,” but was ordered to continue deliberating and later returned with the guilty verdict.

Shirley Gibson, however, said she had no reservations about Dean’s conviction and sentence, adding, “We feel a sense of justice having been served. . . . I’ll never believe the police department got just anyone for the sake of having someone go to jail. It would have meant Brian died in vain.”

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PARTIAL WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED AUGUST 5, 1998, PAGE B4

On the National Night Out, Many Meetings; Residents and Police Introduce Themselves, Address Crime Issues

As part of the kickoff of the night’s event in the District, city officials, residents and police attended a ceremony at the 4th District police station to name the building at 6001 Georgia Ave. NW in memory of Officer Brian T. Gibson, who was ambushed as he sat in his patrol car at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW last year.

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PARTIAL WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED AUGUST 13, 1998, PAGE J1

New Life Sought for The Ibex; Building May Become Public Access TV Studio

Abstract (Summary)

The “positive” is creating a public access television studio where the general public can broadcast anything from gospel programs to talk shows, and providing a learning center for teenagers and adults who live in Ward 4. The “negative” is the image associated with the Ibex nightclub, closed last year after the shooting death of D.C. police officer Brian T. Gibson. (Gregory V.) Hamilton hopes to convert the club into a television studio.

The likelihood of the conversion is good, according to Hamilton, who sat on the Georgia Avenue Planning Committee with Zina Greene, owner of the building that housed the Ibex.

“I want something in there that wouldn’t have alcohol there, and I think what {Hamilton} is proposing is good for the community,” Greene said.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED APRIL 1, 1999, PAGE J1

New Support for Police Survivors

Her son, D.C. police officer Brian T. Gibson, was killed in February 1997 while on a routine patrol in Northwest Washington. Now Shirley Gibson is carrying out a crusade–“life after Brian,” as she calls it–in honor of all Washington law enforcement officers slain in the line of duty.

She has become a catalyst for a group that assists their families.

Along with relatives of other slain officers, Gibson has launched Washington’s first chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), part of a national organization devoted to helping families deal with the long-term impact of police deaths. COPS sponsors counseling programs, recreational camps, retreats and other special events for family members of all ages.

COPS was founded 15 years ago and had 30 chapters across the United States. But it never had a chapter in Washington, even though dozens of law enforcement agencies operate within the city. The organization is active in Virginia and Maryland, and Gibson was determined to bring it to the District, too.

“When people told me that Washington never had a chapter, I said that won’t do,” Gibson, 53, recalled last week. “We’ve lost 11 officers in the line of duty during the past 10 years. We need our own chapter in D.C. And yet we had absolutely no organization for survivors of this caliber.”
Gibson contacted families of other slain officers as well as top police officials and quickly generated enthusiasm for the effort. D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey was among the first to lend support. The police department has given COPS an office and meeting space in one of its facilities at 1220 L St. NW. Gibson welcomed the chief’s encouragement. As she put it, “The last thing a survivor needs is someone dragging their feet when you’re trying to get something accomplished and trying to heal yourself at the same time.”

The District now has the 31st COPS chapter, with a kickoff ceremony last week. Scores of people, including city officials, family members, current and former officers and friends, showed up for a reception at Holy Rosary Church in Northwest Washington. Gibson is the chapter’s first president. The vice president is Oliver W. Smith Sr., father of Oliver W. Smith Jr., another slain D.C. officer. The parliamentarian is Mary McGee, whose son, D.C. police officer James M. McGee Jr., also died in the line of duty.

COPS is designed to give families an outlet. It’s a social network to help families recover from the shock and emptiness of death. Members offer help to one another not only in the immediate aftermath but for years to come.

“You can go to the wake or the funeral and present a business card and say, ‘I lost my son, too,’ and try to talk,” said Suzie Sawyer, the national organization’s executive director. “But there’s 500 people behind you, and that’s not enough. You don’t get over this in six months or in a year or in 10 years. This is a life-altering experience that is with you forever.”

The national COPS program, based in Camdenton, Mo., sponsors numerous activities. Children ages 6 to 14 are invited to camps with their parents, and older children can take part in wilderness challenges meant to instill self-confidence and independence. There are getaways for spouses of slain officers, as well as outings for officers’ parents. Many of the events are at Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., a resort setting that is deliberately far removed from the stresses participants face in everyday life.

“A lot of these kids really need to come to camp,” Sawyer said. “And a lot of the spouses and parents really need to get away from the city.”

\The national program, which has a $1.6 million annual budget, raises money to provide for the camps. The chapters are asked to cover transportation costs. Now that COPS is in Washington, Gibson said, her next step is to raise enough money to send D.C. families to the occasional therapeutic getaways.

“We want to be able to send kids to the COPS camp and mountain- climbing and to get enough money to give these families emotional help,” she said.

Gibson’s son was 27 and a father of two. He was a master police officer in the 4th District and had won awards for outstanding service. He was shot Feb. 5, 1997, as he sat in his patrol car in the early morning darkness at a traffic light at Missouri and Georgia avenues NW. He never had a chance to react as his assailant repeatedly fired into the driver’s-side window. Police identified the gunman as Marthell N. Dean, who had just been kicked out of a nearby nightclub. Dean was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to a life in prison without parole.
Shirley Gibson and other relatives attended the trial every day, and she spoke movingly at Dean’s sentencing. She recalled how her son had wanted to be a police officer since he was 8 and the pride he later took in the job.

Gibson and her husband, Harrison, first learned about COPS soon after their son’s death and attended a parents’ retreat several months later.

“We went out there when we needed the support more than anything else in the world,” she said. “It was the first time when someone put their arms around us and said, ‘We know how you feel,’ that we really knew that they understood how we felt. . . . I met someone whose son had been killed exactly 10 days after Brian, down in Garland, Tex. It was their only son, too. We made friends there who are going to be our friends for the rest of our lives.”

Terrica Gibson, the officer’s sister, is aiding in the COPS effort, as are other relatives. Shirley Gibson said the programs have helped her entire family, adding: “People sometimes forget these officers had parents and siblings. My daughter sat across the table from her brother for 18 years. COPS is an organization that makes sure every member of the family is recognized.”
Just three weeks after Gibson lost her son, Oliver and Cynthia Smith faced their own tragedy. Their son, Oliver W. Smith Jr., was 28 and off-duty when he was killed in a robbery outside the Forestville apartment where he lived with his wife and young son. The killing took place as Smith returned home from a shift at the 2nd District. Although Smith was not in uniform when he was attacked, the assailants came upon his badge while robbing him. That’s when he was shot. Three people were convicted of murder charges. The Smiths also took part in a COPS parents’ retreat and now want to help others, too.

“We plan to do everything we can so that anybody who has to go through this again will know there are people out there to help,” Cynthia Smith said.

Craig Floyd, chairman of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, said COPS has won renowned for its success with emotional healing.

“For survivors whose loved one was a police officer killed in the line of duty, how do you deal with that sudden, very violent death?” Floyd asked. “Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? That’s the big part, finding out that there is hope, that they’re not alone. They pull each other through it.” 

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