Zero Proof: Why Hasn’t FWPD Produced Evidence That Chad Gibson Was Drunk?
July 1st, 2009
Update: Since this post went live, we now have a statement from Kristy Morgan, Chad Gibson’s sister:
Gibson’s sisters say her brother’s alcohol level was .2. “.08 is the legal limit. He was at .2. You have to be at .4 to have true alcohol poisoning and he was not close to that,” Morgan said.
So now we know Gibson was drunk, at more than twice the legal limit for intoxication, but well under the level for alcohol poisoning. So the next question is this: If someone is drunk, why would it take several police officers to wrestle a 160 lb young man to the ground? And why would it be necessary to slam him against a wall?
Blogging occurs in real time. We see things and gather information and get it out there when we can. When new information arrives, we need to acknowledge it and put it out there, even if (and especially when) it contradicts what we first understood to be true. There are still more answers the FWPD and TABC need to face, but this is an important piece of the puzzle.
I concluded the piece below with “the only plausible answer” in the absence of a critical piece of information. Now that we have that critical piece, there are now obviously other answers. I retract the conclusions I draw below. It is plausible that the symptoms officers observed were due either to his injuries or his level of intoxication.
But for the sake of transparency I will leave this post in place. That’s another component of blogging that I think is important: leave your errors out there, but have them duly noted. And in this post, I also believe the chronology is accurate based on eyewitness accounts, and that chronology is important in establishing culpability for Gibson’s injuries.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission and the Ft. Worth Police Department have some serious explaining to do.
They have accused Chad Gibson of two offenses in the media without providing a shred of evidence to back up either accusation. The first alleged offense, that Chad either groped or made a “sexually explicit movement,” we’ve dealt with before. Dan Savage put it best when he paraphrased Ft. Worth Police Chief Jeffery Halstead as effectively saying “that faggot had it coming.”
But the second alleged offense, that Gibson was literally falling-down drunk and exhibiting signs of alcohol poisoning is being put forward by both organizations with no evidence to back up their claims.
Before we look at what flimsy evidence they do have, let’s go to the online Merck Manual and compare their descriptions of severe head injury with severe alcoholic intoxication. First the severe head injury:
Severe Head Injury: People may have some of the same symptoms as occur with minor head injury. Some, such as headache, may be more severe. Also, symptoms often start with a period of unconsciousness that begins at the time of impact. How long people remain unconscious varies. Some people awaken in seconds, while others do not awaken for hours or even days. On awakening, people often are drowsy, confused, restless, or agitated. They may also vomit, have seizures, or both. Balance and coordination may be impaired. Depending on which area of the brain is damaged, the ability to think, control emotions, move, feel, speak, see, hear, and remember may be impaired—sometimes permanently. [Boldface emphasis mine.]
Now here’s their symptoms of alcohol intoxication:
- 20 to 50 mg/dL: Tranquility, mild sedation, some decrease in fine motor coordination, and some impairment of driving ability
- 50 to 100 mg/dL: Impaired judgment and a further decrease in coordination
- 100 to 150 mg/dL: Unsteady gait, slurred speech, loss of behavioral inhibitions, and memory impairment
- 150 to 300 mg/dL: Delirium and lethargy (likely)
- 300 to 400 mg/dL: Often unconsciousness
- ≥ 400 mg/dL: Possibly fatal
Vomiting is common with moderate to severe intoxication. Because people may be very drowsy, vomited material may enter the lungs (be aspirated), sometimes leading to pneumonia and death. Drinking large amounts can also cause low blood pressure and low blood sugar levels. [Boldface emphasis mine.]
Notice the overlap between the two. So what evidence do police have that Chad was showing symptoms of alcohol poisoning rather than a severe head injury? Is it this?
He was released to paramedics because of his extreme intoxication as he was repeatedly vomiting, police reported. [Boldface emphasis mine.]
Or Ft. Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead’s statement on Monday Morning?
“In the police report, it was stated that he was handcuffed and he exhibited signs of over-intoxication, possible alcohol poisoning, and he fell face first,” Halstead said. “If there’s an eyewitness to the contrary, then that is exactly the person we want to come forward to the Police Department.” [Boldface emphasis mine.]
Or the TABC’s statement?
At the Rainbow Lounge, TABC agents placed one individual under arrest, Chad Gibson who was injured while in the agents’ custody. Mr. Gibson was released to paramedics for treatment of alcohol poisoning and a head injury and transported to a local hospital.
Is that all the evidence they have? All they saw was that he vomited and fell.
I’m calling bullshit on this. People aren’t charged with drunk driving because they were weaving. They may be pulled over for it, but they are arrested and charged when they fail a legitimate test indicating blood-alcohol levels are above the legal limit. And when we read a news report of a traffic accident involving drunk driving, there is always some mention of blood-alcohol levels to substantiate the charge.
So if they are so convinced that Chad Gibson was falling down drunk, where’s his blood-alcohol level? Did the police or TABC even run a test on Chad? If so, why haven’t either of them released the figure?
Let’s reconstruct what really happened. Here’s our first eyewitness:
Club Manager Randy Norman said Gibson didn’t seem drunk and was walking from the men’s room, holding a bottle of water, when an officer pushed him against a wall and then pushed him to the ground. Some patrons said they heard Gibson ask the officer a question, but that he didn’t fight back. At least three officers were involved in handcuffing him.
Kayla Lane, a visitor from California, has a slightly different memory of where he was handcuffed, but she also reports seeing someone pulled to the ground who wasn’t drunk:
After this, we saw the policemen go into the men’s restroom, pull out at least two guys from handcuffs from there, and pull one onto the ground before forcefully removing him. What were they doing in there? Raucously disposing of their waste?! There was no reason for ANY of those arrests, at all. These people were NOT drunk, or even overly happy or silly.
We do know however that he was forcefully slammed against a wall:
“The first question I heard was, ‘How much have you had to drink?’” said Shane Wells, a dancer at the club. Gibson “said, ‘I don’t have to answer that question’ and they grabbed him and ran him against that little wall.’”
And then, according to Chuck Potter, Chad was very brutally thrown to the ground:
Chuck reported that Chad Gibson (who ended up in the Intensive Care Unit at John Peter smith Hospital because of his treatment) was tapped on the shoulder and told he was under arrest. When he asked why he was slammed against the wall, his head was pulled back so far that Chuck was worried that his neck might break. When they released him for a second, Chad tried to catch his breath and staggered as he did so. The police then slammed him to the ground and 5 cops were on top of him. A friend who was at a higher vantage point in the bar saw one cop with his foot on Chad’s neck on the floor.
Justin McCarty was working security at the Rainbow Lounge that night and he also saw what happened:
McCarty said that he saw officers throw Chad Gibson to the floor, adding that, “There were people standing there watching it happen and crying. They were scared. It was just brutal.”
So did Alison Egert:
It was shortly after that conversation, Egert said, that she saw a patron in the bar “thrown against the wall” and then pushed to the floor. (That man was later identified as Chad Gibson.)
“Here you had this gay man who looked like he weighed about 100 pounds thrown to the floor with six cops on top of him,” she said. “That’s when I started noticing that they were only arresting men, and they seemed to be targeting the smaller men.”
Another witness, Chris Hightower, told WFAA-TV that he saw Chad hit his head against the concrete step into the men’s room:
They spun him around this way and laid him out on the ground, and that’s when he hit his head on this step and got the head injury.
That’s a very solid brick floor and sharp step for Chad to be thrown onto.
TABC now say that after they took him outside, he fell again and that’s when he received his head injury. They’re clinging to that story so they can claim he was showing signs of “alcohol poisoning” before he fell outside. And maybe he really did fall again outside; we don’t have any witnesses who said he didn’t. But if he did, it could very easily be because of his loss of balance due to the injury he sustained when his head hit the wall, the brick floor and/or the step.
TABC and FWPD are sticking to the “alcohol poisoning” excuse even though others in the bar didn’t even think he was tipsy. That’s a huge discrepancy. Someone on the verge of alcohol poisoning would look quite a bit more than “overly happy or silly,” don’t you think?
Nobody has come forward with any convincing evidence that he was actually drunk, but what we do have is convincing evidence that he sustained a severe head injury, because that’s what he’s been in intensive care for since Sunday.
The only way this all comes together is that Chad was injured when he was thrown to the ground outside the men’s room. Given the large number of witnesses who describe that scenario, that looks like the only plausible answer. Unless, of course, TABC or FWPD can produce results from a blood-alcohol test. And they better do that fast or retract their statements. Otherwise, nothing they say or do will have any credibility.