Washington County Sheriff Fred Newman claimed Thursday that the family of a man killed in a 2018 shooting had seen a police video of the event, but the family said that’s misleading because the video did not show the shooting.
Phillip Cameron Gibson II, 37, died on May 8, 2018, following a pursuit that ended in an officer-involved shooting in Glade Spring. Since then, family members of Gibson’s, Michelle Castle and Paige Fultz, have sought to see body-camera or dash-camera footage of the event.
Newman previously declined to release Sheriff’s Office video after the family filed Freedom of Information Act requests. Castle, who is represented by Attorney John Fishwick, filed a FOIA lawsuit on Oct. 1 in Washington County Circuit Court.
On Thursday, Newman said in a news release that his office has received information “that the family of the man shot in May 2018 had in fact reviewed a police video of the event.”
Newman said the family viewed a video of the event at the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations Office in Lebanon, Virginia.
“Our Sheriff’s Office has taken the position that as we were involved in the incident along with other law enforcement agencies including the Virginia State Police and the Glade Spring Police Department, it would be best for the investigating agency (Virginia State Police) to release their findings and video if they decided to do so,” Newman said in the release.
The Sheriff’s Office utilized the discretionary authority given under FOIA not to release the video, Newman added.
Castle told the Bristol Herald Courier on Thursday that she, as well as her sister and aunt, viewed a short VSP video clip in June 2018. The video showed the pursuit, which began in Abingdon and ended in Glade Spring, as well as a pit maneuver that concluded the pursuit, she said.
The video then showed Gibson exit the video and then proceed to maneuver around vehicles in a nearby parking lot. Authorities have said Gibson attempted to enter two vehicles before running across U.S. Highway 11 toward another business.
“I cannot say that we seen anything in his hand,” said Castle, referring to police reports that Gibson was carrying a firearm.
Castle said officials at VSP then ended the video, which she said does not show the shooting.
“We have been told that he was trying to surrender,” said Castle, who she said had heard from witnesses at the scene.
Authorities said Gibson was pointing his weapon at officers when they fired, killing him.
“What happened at the moment he was shot?” Castle asked.
Castle said she will continue to seek the Sheriff’s Office’s video, which she said she believes will show what happened at the moment her brother was killed.
Newman said the information his office received “was the entire incident [that] was captured on the State Police video, although I have not viewed it.”
State Police has not shown the family the Sheriff’s Office video because officials said it was Sheriff’s Office property, according to FOIA responses to the family and the Bristol Herald Courier, which also requested the records.
“The family was afforded the opportunity to view the [VSP] video,” VSP spokeswoman Corinne Geller said Thursday. “It was suggested the family not view their loved one actually being shot, out of concern for their welfare. The family agreed to that recommendation.”
Castle said the family was told by VSP they would not be able to see the shooting in the agency’s video. She said VSP told them that once officers move, they would be able to see CPR. The family agreed to not see CPR taking place, which Castle said she understood did not take place immediately after the shooting.
Newman noted that he has not received a subpoena in the court case.