A 23-year old from West Point, Mississippi accused of second-degree murder in a shooting outside of a Minneapolis bar back in 2021 was acquitted by a jury on Friday, less than eight hours after deliberations began.
Kevion J. Gibbs was leaving the bar with several family members on the night of June 5th, 2021 when his brother was punched by 33-year-old Deandre I. Smith, sending him to the ground. Prosecutors argued that Gibbs drew his gun and shot Smith in retaliation, not self-defense, but Gibbs’ attorney says his client repeatedly tried to get away from Smith and his aggressive behavior.
The case was all about self-defense,” Gibbs’ lead attorney, Fred Goetz, said Friday. “He tried and tried and tried to get away, but he had no choice.”
Gibbs, who testified in his defense, made “persistent and continual efforts to get his family away [from the others]. That’s all he was doing for 15 minutes. Every time he got away, they kept pursuing him. It just kept getting more violent and more violent.”
Goetz said Gibbs was leaving Augie’s with his sisters, a brother and his pregnant girlfriend, when the brother was punched and “knocked to the ground. They thought he was dead. He was lying there motionless.”
Prosecutors were asked Friday for reaction to the verdicts. In their criminal complaint, they said that Smith punched Gibbs’ brother and started running, and that’s when Gibbs wounded Smith with two or three shots from about 5 feet away. Smith died barely 20 minutes later at HCMC.
Metro Transit officers who happened to be nearby chased and shot Gibbs in the leg. He was arrested, and his gun was recovered.
In press reports prior to the trial, it sure sounded like prosecutors had a strong case. The entire incident was witnessed by officers, who also claimed to have body camera footage capturing the moment when Smith was shot.
A criminal complaint alleges Metro Transit police officers witnessed an altercation outside Augie’s Bourbon Street Cabaret around 2 a.m. Saturday.
They say they saw a man, later identified as 33-year-old Deandre Smith, punch another man and run away. The complaint states Gibbs shot Smith “two or three” times as he was running. The officers chased Gibbs and shot him in the leg before arresting him.
According to the complaint, Gibbs said he fired at the ground to defend himself and scatter the group. The complaint states that body-worn camera shows Gibbs pointed the gun straight at Smith before shooting.
Now, I haven’t seen that the body cam footage was ever released to the public, so I don’t know what exactly it actually documented, but it clearly wasn’t enough to persuade jurors that Gibbs wasn’t reasonably acting to protect himself and other family members. Remember, this verdict didn’t end in a mistrial. All twelve jurors in liberal Hennepin County were unconvinced that Gibbs’ actions amounted to murder and not self-defense.
According to Goetz, Gibbs is looking forward to returning home to Mississippi and his supervisor’s job at a tire factory. I hope that June night a couple of years ago is the last time that Gibbs will ever need to draw his gun in defense of himself or others, and that Smith’s family can find some peace even if they don’t agree with the jury’s verdict.