GEM COUNTY — Sheriff Chuck Rolland stands by the actions of his deputies as they responded to a suspected domestic violence call in August. The home’s resident, Michael Gibbons, said he’s seeking legal representation and may pursue legal action.
A video dated Aug. 16, shows officers approaching the home with weapons drawn. They identify themselves as Sheriff’s Office deputies and tell a woman at the door, identified as Marcela Cruz-Gibbons, to step out of the house. When she begins to retreat inside, an officer grabs her arm and pulls her outside.
A man, identified as Gibbons, then emerges from the home. Deputies direct him to get on his knees as he asks what’s going on.
“We’re going to tell you,” an officer is heard saying. “Now is the time to shut up. We’ll tell you in a minute.”
Upon entering the home, deputies find what they call a “grow area,” and briefly mention getting a warrant to conduct a further search. According to a report released by the Gem County Sheriff’s Office, Gibbons verbally consented to a search of the home. He told officers he’d smoked marijuana on the previous night, and had a glass pipe and a small amount of the drug in the dining area.
The grow room, according to the report, turned out to be an indoor tomato garden. Deputies found several loaded firearms on the premises, which they unloaded and secured inside the home.
Gibbons was cited and released for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia, which he said he takes for post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from a stabbing injury he received while working in law enforcement. The marijuana charge was dropped, and he later pleaded guilty to the paraphernalia charge.
He has doubts, he said, about how the officers conducted the initial search of his home.
“You can see it very plainly in the video,” Gibbons said. “He doesn’t open doors, he doesn’t clear his corners, he doesn’t open up any closets. But he makes darn sure to smell my ashtrays. That’s not looking for people that could cause him harm. That’s what he’s supposed to be doing — clearing the house for people.”
A concerned neighbor contacted police after hearing shouting from Gibbons’ home. While he may have raised his voice, he said, he did not strike his wife.
“I’m a peace-loving man,” he said. “An organic farmer.”
Gem County Prosecuting Attorney Richard Linville said he supports the officers’ actions as they responded to this call.
“The video was provided to Mr. Gibbons by this office during the course of judicial proceedings in (his) criminal case. I am satisfied that it shows that the officers acted appropriately and professionally,” Linville said in a prepared statement. “Our goal is to protect the safety of those involved, and to enforce the laws of the state of Idaho. That’s what occurred here.”
“The video basically vindicates anything that they might have to say,” he said.
But at least one of his opponents in the upcoming election isn’t so sure. Lucille Rovang, running against Rolland as an independent, said she suspects the deputies may have overstepped their bounds — particularly while pulling Gibbons-Cruz through the door.
“I didn’t like what I saw,” she said.
Another challenger, retired Emmett Police Department officer David Brad Newell — also running as an independent — was out of town and without computer access, and could not comment on the video.