Police say fellow cop arrested for drunk driving after coming to work intoxicated

| Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, 12:36 p.m.

Pittsburgh police charged a city cop with drunken driving, saying that he showed up for work on Friday night with glassy, bloodshot eyes and smelling of alcohol.

Vernon S. Gibson, 38, of Southern Avenue in Mt. Washington was charged with two counts of driving under the influence after multiple breath tests showed he had a blood alcohol level exceeding the legal limit.

“I don't not want to talk about it right now,” Gibson said when a reporter went to his home on Saturday afternoon seeking comment.

Acting police Chief Regina McDonald said an internal investigation has been started and that “appropriate action will be taken.”

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Michael Huss said the city “will be moving forward with termination” of Gibson's employment.

“This isn't the first time we've had issues with him,” Huss said.

Gibson was charged with insurance fraud in November 2011. He admitted to investigators that he lied about how his personal vehicle was damaged.

Sgt. Michael LaPorte, president of Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1, confirmed that Gibson is on administrative leave, but declined to comment further.

A city police sergeant met Gibson when he arrived to work at the Municipal Courts Building, Downtown, shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, according to court documents.

Sgt. Sean Duffy wrote in a criminal complaint that he had been in an unmarked police vehicle when he observed Gibson driving his Saturn sport utility vehicle into the parking lot of the court building on First Avenue.

Duffy wrote that Gibson's eyes were “bloodshot, glassy and watery” and that he had slurred speech and smelled of alcohol. The sergeant told Gibson to spit out a cough lozenge because he would be undergoing a breath test.

Duffy ordered Gibson to get into Duffy's vehicle to be transported to UPMC Mercy for “mandatory random drug and alcohol testing.”

Breath tests revealed that Gibson had a blood alcohol level of 0.128 percent. Under state law, a person is drunk if his or her blood alcohol level is 0.08 percent or higher. The officer provided a urine sample for testing, according to court documents.

Duffy confiscated Gibson's gun and a pocket knife and informed him that he “believed he (Gibson) was driving under the influence of alcohol,” according to the criminal complaint.

Duffy and a police lieutenant transported Gibson to the Zone 6 station in the West End, where additional breath testing confirmed his blood alcohol level was 0.128 percent. The officer underwent performance tests to gauge the level of his impairment.

Gibson was taken home and told that he was being released on a summons.

In 2011, Pittsburgh police charged Gibson with one count of insurance fraud after receiving a complaint from Erie Insurance accusing him of lying about how his 2011 Kia had been damaged.

A day after an insurance inspector disputed Gibson's claim that his vehicle was damaged in a Nov. 6, 2011, hit-and-run, he admitted to investigators that he struck a wall while parking and failed to report it because he was embarrassed, according to a complaint filed in connection with the charges.

A judge in July 2012 sentenced Gibson to 200 hours of community service and $1,662 in fines and court costs under a program that allows first-time offenders to have the offense expunged from their record.

Gibson was moved from the North Side station to the Warrant Office after he was charged.

Court documents indicate that he has not fulfilled the requirements of the program.

Staff writer Bill Vidonic contributed to this report. Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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