Officer Kills Unarmed Man

Friday, July 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An officer shot a suspected car thief to death at the end of a high-speed chase, apparently firing at the unarmed black man within seconds after getting out of his cruiser, authorities said.

When asked why Officer Jared Kruse, shot 35-year-old George Bibins early Wednesday morning, Police Chief Don Carey said, ``That's the crux of the investigation.

``We can't put our finger on the justification,'' Carey said Thursday.

Bibins had crashed the stolen Jeep into a telephone pole after an eight-minute chase that began when officers tried to pull him over for a traffic violation.

He was inside the Jeep when he was shot, Carey said. He died of a single gunshot wound to the upper torso.

A police camera videotape tells most of the story but Carey said it does not show Kruse, who is white, discharging his weapon. The videotape does include what sounds like a weapon being discharged, Carey said. The video was not released to the public.

Carey visited black community leaders before the news conference. City Councilman Frank Brown, who took part, said the leaders would probably issue a statement next week. Carey also met with some of Bibins' relatives.

``It was a waste of time, because I still don't have any answers,'' said Ruby Gordon, Bibins' half sister.

Bibins was released from prison July 10. It was his third prison stay in the last decade, mainly for theft and burglary convictions, according to police and prison records. His family said he had recently got a job at a car-detailing shop.

Carey said Kruse fired the single shot within ``one or two seconds'' of getting out of his police car.

``I can't speculate on what the officer perceived. I can only tell you there was no weapon in the vehicle,'' Carey said. ``Our investigation of this incident to this point has raised some concerns.''

The Douglas county attorney will investigate the shooting and a grand jury will be called, which is required under Nebraska law when someone dies in police custody.

Kruse and the officer with him, John Gruidel, have been removed from patrol duty while an internal department investigation is conducted. Carey said there is no evidence that Gruidel fired his weapon. Gruidel is working a desk job while Kruse has been removed from duty entirely.