Evidence presented during the trial showed Kevin Gibbs, 24, was parked in the parking lot at about 5 p.m. on a wet, rainy Feb. 12, when Smyrna Officer Daniel Stuckey drove up in his police cruiser to check on a “suspicious vehicle,” according to Smyrna police spokesman Cpl. Ed Cason.
Gibbs’ car was the only vehicle in the lot when the officer approached.
“In police terminology it’s what is called a consensual encounter,” explained Kim Isaza, a spokeswoman for the Cobb District Attorney’s Office.
But in reality, there was nothing consensual about the encounter.
Stuckey wanted to question the driver of the car and that driver was apparently not in the mood for a conversation.
“He got out to check on a suspicious vehicle in the park,” Cason said. “It was raining that day, and this was the only car in the parking lot. And there’s three other people in the vehicle.”
As Stuckey exited his police car, Gibbs started up his engine and began inching his Hyundai Sonata toward Stuckey, and eventually bumped into the officer’s leg, according to Cason.
The officer was not injured, but felt threatened and ordered Gibbs to stop his car, said District Attorney Vic Reynolds. Instead, Gibbs accelerated a second time toward Stuckey, and that’s when Stuckey drew his weapon and fired a single shot through the driver’s side window, hitting Gibb in the left shoulder.
The officer issued “loud, screaming verbal commands,” said Reynolds.
The officer’s bullet struck Gibbs in his left shoulder, went down through his chest and lodged into the floor board of the car, said Reynolds.
Gibbs then sped out of the park and into rush-hour traffic, weaving in and out of lanes. At the intersection of Spring Street and Glenroy Drive, Gibbs’ vehicle hit a Buick Enclave, shearing off a tire from the Buick. Gibbs continued driving and later crashed into a median. That’s when Stuckey, a nine-year veteran of the force, performed what is called a “pursuit intervention technique” or PIT maneuver, stopping Gibbs’ vehicle.
As it turned out, Gibbs had an active warrant for his arrest for DUI at the time of the encounter, and his driver’s license had been suspended.
Assistant District Attorney Jaret Usher, who prosecuted the case for the state, countered the defense’s assertions that Gibbs was trying to escape from a cop who had shot Gibbs “for no reason.”
“At no point did Kevin Gibbs ever say, ‘Please help me!’ He never called 911 and said ‘I’m fleeing for my life!’” Usher argued. Instead, she outlined what she called Gibbs’ “confession by conduct” — while fleeing from an officer, he ordered his three passengers to get out; he fled at a high rate of speed; he wrecked once but continued fleeing; and after Stuckey performed the PIT maneuver, Gibbs opened the driver’s side door of his vehicle.
“He was going to run,” Usher told jurors. “In fact, he’s still running today.”
On Friday morning, jurors convicted Gibbs of aggravated assault on a police officer, obstruction of an officer, two counts of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, and reckless driving.
Cobb Superior Court Judge C. LaTain Kell tentatively set sentencing for Dec. 5. The maximum possible sentence is 35 years plus 12 months.
Gibbs was represented by Marietta attorney Sanford Rice.
Rice could not be reached Friday