Pittsburgh police officer waives hearing on DUI charge

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A Pittsburgh police officer charged with driving drunk to work last year waived his preliminary hearing this morning.

Vernon Gibson, 38, of Mount Washington, is scheduled to appear in court for formal arraignment May 1.

He had been charged via summons with two counts of driving under the influence and was released on his own recognizance this morning following a brief hearing before District Judge Ron Costa Sr.

Sgt. Sean Duffy wrote in a criminal complaint that he intended to take Officer Gibson to UPMC Mercy for a mandatory drug and alcohol test. Shortly after 11 p.m., Dec. 6, Officer Gibson drove into the parking lot at the Pittsburgh Municipal Courts Building and got into the sergeant's car.

The sergeant wrote that he "immediately noticed his eyes were bloodshot, glassy and watery" and that he smelled alcohol, according to the complaint.

Officer Gibson then registered a 0.128 on two blood-alcohol tests, above the 0.08 cut-off for legal driving in Pennsylvania, police wrote.

Officer Gibson's attorney, Timothy Tomasic, said this morning, "Obviously Mr. Gibson is going through a rough period in his life right now." He added that Officer Gibson has the "utmost respect" for the Pittsburgh police is "obviously devastated" by the arrest.

Mr. Tomasic said he did not know Officer Gibson's current status with the bureau.

Police said shortly after his arrest that Officer Gibson had been placed on administrative leave. A spokeswoman could not immediately be reached to comment on his status this morning.

Officer Gibson was charged in late 2011 with insurance fraud after police said he lied to an insurance appraiser, saying that his car was struck when he had actually damaged it while parking. He was accepted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, which allows first-time offenders to fulfill some requirements in hopes of having their charges withdrawn.

His program required him to complete community service and to "abstain from drugs and intoxicating liquor and be of good behavior."

Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1438.

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