Officer Jermaine Gibson Cathedral City Police Department California EoW: Saturday, March 19, 2011

Photograph: Officer Jermaine GibsonPatch image: Cathedral City Police Department, California

Officer Jermaine Gibson
Cathedral City Police Department

End of Watch: Saturday, March 19, 2011

Biographical Info
Age: 29
Tour of Duty: 1 year, 6 months
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details
Cause of Death: Automobile accident
Date of Incident: Friday, March 18, 2011
Weapon Used: Not available
Suspect Info: In custody

Officer Jermaine Gibson was killed in a high-speed chase after his patrol car left the road and collided with a tree. Officer Gibson attempted to pull over a stolen vehicle at approximately 23:30 hours and gave chase after the suspect failed to pull over.
Gibson’s vehicle left the road and crashed in Palm Springs at approximately 23:55 hours. The suspect vehicle also crashed, and two suspects were taken into custody.
Officer Gibson was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after midnight.
Officer Gibson had been with Cathedral City for approximately 18 months, and had been in law enforcement for approximately three years. He is survived by his wife and infant son.

Agency Contact Information
Cathedral City Police Department
68-700 Ave Lalo Guerrero
Cathedral City, CA 92234
Phone: (760) 770-0300
Please contact the Cathedral City Police Department for funeral arrangements or for survivor benefit fund information.

Information on this memorial is preliminary. A final determination on line of duty status may be made at a future date.

Cathedral City police Officer Jermaine Gibson, 29, was killed last night while pursuing a fleeing car into Palm Springs.

Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff in his honor, Gov. Jerry Brown said this afternoon.

Gibson — a Marine Corps veteran who served two tours in Iraq and received a Purple Heart — joined the department 18 months ago.

He was killed when he lost control of his squad car along Palm Canyon Drive near Mesquite Avenue and collided with a palm tree. His vehicle burst into flames.

The suspects in the car he was chasing also crashed farther down the road along Indian Canyon Drive near Camino Parocela. Witnesses said that car also collided with a palm tree, and then exploded.

The occupants of the car, who have not been identified by police, are hospitalized with major injuries at Desert Regional Medical Center, in Palm Springs, officials said.

Gibson was described today as "an unsung hero" known for his "big bear hugs." He married his wife, Jessica, last year and had just become the father of a newborn boy, Jermaine Jr., now 4 weeks old.

Cathedral City’s 51 sworn police officers are "heartbroken," police Lt. Chuck Robinson said this afternoon.

“The Cathedral City Police Department is saddened to announce the untimely death of one of its unsung heroes during the performance of his duties to protect and serve the community of Cathedral City,” he said in an earlier statement.

Brown issued a statement this afternoon with his own condolences to Gibson’s friends, family and fellow officers.

“Anne and I were saddened to learn of the tragic death of Cathedral City Police Department Officer Gibson, a young man with a distinguished record of service to his country and community,” he said.

“Every day, officers put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe and Officer Gibson’s service and sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

The chase began shortly after 11:30 p.m. Friday after Gibson spotted a parolee-at-large inside a suspected stolen vehicle and attempted to pull that car over, Robinson said.

Gibson had been in law enforcement for about three years. He began as a volunteer police explorer in Richmond as a teenager.

Last week, he was recognized in Riverside by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers for his efforts to curb drunken driving.

“Ofc. Gibson was a tenacious officer who believed in the profession and making a difference in the community,” Robinson said.

He “will be missed by all his friends and family. Godspeed,” he added.

Cathedral City Mayor Kathy DeRosa said she learned of Gibson’s death at 5 a.m. and remembers swearing him in as an officer.

"Jerry was such a teddy bear … the gentle giant in a lot of ways," DeRosa said this afternoon.
The Cathedral City Police Officers Association plans to open a memorial fund in Gibson’s name, and details on that account will be released Monday, the association’s president, Officer Albert Holloway, said.

Witnesses said they heard a loud bang and then watched as the suspect vehicle skidded along Palm Canyon Drive for about 60 feet before colliding with a palm tree and exploding. The burning remnants of the car came to rest in front of the Chevron gas station on Palm Canyon Drive.

"It was horrible. It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen," said Rich Lingan, who was on the patio of the Palm Canyon Roadhouse, 535 S. Palm Canyon Drive, at the time. "We heard a loud crack and saw this car skidding about 60 to 70 feet. It took a palm tree with it … severed the palm tree in half and then the car exploded. … People were ejected."

Lingan said he did not see the officer crash as it was farther south from where he was, but he could see "some kind of commotion going on up there.

"This is why you don’t run from the police," he said.

Both crashes are under investigation.

Chase begins in Cathedral City

The chase began at about 11:30 p.m. Friday when Gibson tried to pull the driver of a suspected stolen car over at Date Palm Drive, south of Interstate 10, in Cathedral City.

The car would not stop and Gibson gave chase, following the car as it sped through Cathedral City and into Palm Springs. He crashed along Palm Canyon just north of Mesquite Avenue at about 11:55 p.m., officials said.

The impact caused the squad car to erupt into flames.

He was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after midnight, according to coroner and police reports.

Robinson and DeRosa were visibly shaken during a noon news conference behind the city’s Civic Center on Avenida Lalo Guerrero.

"We’re kind of at a loss," Robinson said. "Everyone here is hurting .Everyone here is fumbling for answers."

He stopped several times to fight back tears.
Gibson’s was the lead car in the chase, followed by two other Cathedral City squad cars. The officers in those cars lost radio contact with Gibson and found him shortly after his collision, Robinson said.

"They did everything they could to save our officer," he added. "They’re heroes too. Unfortunately it just didn’t work out this time. … My hat’s off to them."

Condolences were coming today from all across the Coachella Valley — from other police organizations and from regular people.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the police officer’s family, as well as the extended family at the Cathedral City Police Department,” Palm Springs police wrote in a statement.

"I’ve lived here for 24 years and it sickens me that his happened," said Martin Rios, 43, a Cathedral City resident who took his children to "Wheels for Kids," a youth festival held today in front of the Cathedral City Civic Center on Avenida Lalo Guerrero.

Before the start of the festival a moment of silence was held in honor of Gibson.

"The officer was doing his job to protect our community and he and his family gave the ultimate sacrifice," Rios added.

Roger Porter, 23, of Cathedral City, said he too was honored by Gibson’s service and sacrifice.

"Ofc. Gibson was just doing what he was trained to do … going out to protect our community," Porter said. "He along with all the police officers should be appreciated everyday for the service that they do our families in the community."

Flags outside Cathedral City Hall are being flown at half-staff today.

Cathedral City Councilman Chuck Vasquez, who also serves as a neighborhood crimewatch organizer, said Gibson "will be honored in prayer today several times, and it will continue all day for his family."

Gibson is the second Cathedral City police officer killed in the line of duty in the department’s history, according to the website, Officer Down Memorial Page.

Officer David Vasquez — no relation to Chuck Vasquez — was killed Oct. 28, 1988, when he was struck by a vehicle. A street outside City Hall and the police department is named for him.

Driver continues, crashes

The locations of the crashes were closed to traffic overnight and through the morning.

All parts of South Palm Canyon Drive were reopened 2:45 p.m., police said.

“The impact of the vehicle into the palm tree sheared the palm tree at the base and nearly split the vehicle in half,” Palm Springs police said of the suspect car.

One person was ejected from that car, and a second person was trapped inside,
police said.

The California Highway Patrol Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team is leading the investigation into the crash that killed Gibson.

The seriously damaged squad car was taken from the scene by tow truck at about 10:30 a.m. today while highway patrol officers cleaned up debris.

The Palm Springs Police Department Traffic Unit is investigating the second crash.

That car was destroyed by the crash, and debris was scattered about 30 feet from the crash site.

Palm Springs police are also working with the Riverside County District Attorney’s office on a criminal investigation.

Robinson said his department will seek charges against the suspects for first-degree murder as a result of Gibson’s death.

Desert Sun reporters Kate McGinty, Tamara Sone, and Colin Atagi contributed to this report.

The crashed Cathedral City police squad car was still at Palm Canyon Drive near Mesquite Avenue until about 10:30 a.m.


5 Responses to “Officer Jermaine Gibson Cathedral City Police Department California EoW: Saturday, March 19, 2011”

  1. 1 brandy williams March 19, 2011 at 18:52

    To a fellow Spartan….. May you rest in peace and May GOD watch over your family….

  2. 2 Brian Rose March 20, 2011 at 05:38

    I loved you like a brother Jermaine. I will always have the memories we made together growing up. I say this to you as a fellow police officer; you made the ultimate sacrifice. Rest in peace. I love you.

  3. 3 Christina Mitchell March 21, 2011 at 12:34

    I still can’t believe it. We just caught up with each other not to long ago and now your gone. You will always be my brother. I pray that god watches over your lil boy and wife. You will truly be missed. Love you & R.I.P Jermaine!

    • 4 Erica March 21, 2011 at 14:11

      Words cant express how sorry I am to hear this news. I cant even believe this. I remember you being such a funny guy and I remember the last time that I saw you years ago, and you told me that you were a police officer for our city. I never got to tell you then, but I will say it now because I know you are looking down at us all from a place so peaceful…THANK YOU for your service. I’m sending my prayers to your little son and wife and family.

      GOD BLESS.

  4. 5 Det. John Whitney March 22, 2011 at 16:33

    Officer Jermaine Gibson will be missed and never forgotten by his brothers and sisters at Vallejo Police Department.

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