Concerned Citizen, Sheriff verbally joust in Fiscal Court

Apr. 23—Two weeks ago local resident Dan Gibson presented the Pulaski Fiscal Court with an incident of trespassing on his private property by a group of men.

However, on Tuesday, Pulaski County Sheriff Bobby Jones refuted a good portion of what Gibson had presented to the court two weeks earlier.

"...My complete yard was full of Spanish speaking Americans," Gibson had stated during the April 9 fiscal court meeting."...I asked (them) what they were doing there, and they said, 'we're having a meeting'..."

"You didn't ask me if you could have a meeting on this property, and therefore you shouldn't be here," Gibson explained to the court. "I said, 'You don't have permission to be here, and therefore you're trespassing. You should leave. I want you to leave. Now.'"

Gibson, then claimed the men gathered around him in a threatening manner, so he immediately called 911. He also stated that a sheriff's deputy responded to his complaint, but was not able to get the group of men off his property.

"They sent someone, a deputy," Gibson stated. "When he got there, he told me that his camera was on and operating properly...He (the deputy) asked them to leave. They didn't leave."

Gibson claimed the deputy stated that he could not arrest the men because of ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) had told them that they can't.

During Gibson's nearly 8-minute presentation to the court two weeks ago, there was nearly no other discussion about the incident and Sheriff Jones was not in attendance to respond.

However, Jones read a prepared statement on Tuesday that he stated was taken from reports and the deputy's video camera.

"I would like to address the complaint made by Dan Gibson at the last fiscal court meeting," Jones stated. "I have reviewed the body cam footage from the Deputy Sergeant Danny Pevley. I have reviewed the fiscal court meeting video several times, and I've reviewed the 911 call that was made, and there were a lot of untruthful statements given about the Spanish speaking Americans — as he called them — trespassing on property and taking over people's property."

"This simply was not true," Jones stated. "The individuals he was referring to were employees of Kendall, a professional tree company service that was contracted through South Kentucky RECC. They had several large trucks parked in the cul-de-sac, with 'contracted with RECC' on the side of the trucks. The employees were wearing reflective vest and hard hats. When Sergeant Peavey arrived, none of the employees were on the property."

Jones stated the men were contracted to trim trees and were also given on-the-job CPR training. And while some of the members of the court agreed that maybe doing CPR training in a cul-de-sac was probably not an ideal location, the men were there to trim trees away from power lines.

"The Kendall employees had left prior to Sergeant Pevley leaving," Jones continued. "Mr. Gibson told the court that he had asked the deputy to arrest them. That's simply not true. It's not on the body cam. He said that ICE had told us that we could not arrest anyone. That's simply not true. What actually was said was Mr. Gibson asked Sergeant Pevley if these guys were legal. Sergeant Pevley explained to Mr. Gibson that the federal government was not deporting and that he would've have to contact ICE...If someone is in this country illegally, then that is handled by federal laws. The sheriff's office, the police departments, and the Kentucky State Police cannot enforce federal laws."

Between the two fiscal court meetings, both Sheriff Jones and Pulaski County Judge-Executive Marshall Todd stated that their respective offices had received several calls from concerned citizens about the matter of illegal aliens taking over their private property after Gibson had posed the question, "Where are our property rights? Do we actually own any property anymore? If they can come in and just take over and not be prosecuted for it?"

After Jones made his statement to the court, Pulaski County Attorney Martin Hatfield made a legal remark.

"It is a violation of criminal law to falsely report an incident, and we may have further discussion about that," Hatfield stated.

Nearly seven minutes after Hatfield's statement, Gibson was allowed to approach the podium again during the 'Citizens Comments' portion of Tuesday's meeting.

"First of all, may I ask the county attorney, was that a threat to me about bringing false reports to this court?" Gibson directed to Hatfield.

The banter between Gibson and Hatfield had multiple exchanges, with Gibson asking whether Hatfield's statement was aimed toward him individually or everyone, while Hatfield responded each time, "I'm not gonna debate that with you."

Hatfield tried to end the crosstalk between the two men by saying, "Mr. Gibson, I'm gonna stop you right there."

Gibson quickly responded by saying, "No, you can't stop me."

Hatfield then made the statement, "This is being recorded and anything you say can be used against you in a criminal prosecution. You just need to understand that."

However, the two men continued to verbally joust, with Gibson asking about who the threat was intended for and Hatfield responding with, "I'm not gonna debate that with you."

After Hatfield told Gibson, 'to move along,' Gibson responded, "No, I'm not gonna move along if you all won't let me tell the truth. I'm telling the truth. I told the truth that day and I can verify, and I have several witnesses. They were on my property."

"He (the sheriff) represented that they weren't on my property," Gibson continued. "He said they were just in a cul-de-sac. That is not true. He told the lie right here and told you a lie. Are you going prosecute him? Are you going prosecute him right now?"

At that point, Sheriff Jones approached the podium and stood side-by-side with Gibson.

"What I told the court was on the 911 call, which is public record, which anybody can see...I'll show anybody that wants to see it," Jones said. "When the deputy arrived, they were in the cul-de-sac. He (Gibson) does not own the cul-de-sac, he owns private property. He said they were on the grass, is what he told the deputy prior to the deputy's arrival. He asked them to leave. When the deputy got there, they were already off the property, so therefore there's no crime. That's what I told the court."

However, Gibson countered with his specific recollections of the incident.

"I want to make it clear again that they were on my property, I have witnesses," Gibson reiterated. "They were on my property and they told me that they were having a meeting...I did not represent anything untruthful to this court, and I feel very imposed upon by this court to say that I did lie to this court. I don't lie to anybody about anything.

"I don't lie."