WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – “I thought he was going to [expletive] rape me.”
Those were the words that James City County police officer Michael Rusk screamed at a 911 operator shortly after allegedly shooting and seriously hurting Sgt. Christopher Gibson outside a Williamsburg bar in January.
Rusk is facing charges in connection to the January shooting, which investigators initially said happened as a result of a “verbal argument” after a night of drinking. The 911 call made by the alleged shooter, however, along with surveillance video exclusively obtained by 10 On Your Side, shows another side of the story.
Rusk’s family and lawyers agree the evidence makes a case for self defense, after he says he suffered unwanted sexual advances from his superior officer.
The call was made in the early hours of January 25, from outside a bar on Scotland Street in Williamsburg. That’s when James City County officer Michael Rusk allegedly shot Sgt. Gibson.
Rusk calls and immediately states his name and badge number to the dispatcher before saying, “I shot Sergeant Gibson!” He goes on to say, “I pulled a gun on him because he was [expletive] advancing on me.”
Rusk’s dad tells 10 On Your Side his son had been subject to unwanted sexual advances from Gibson for about a year prior to the shooting.
“We just kind of wrote it off as a superior looking after a subordinate,” said Jason Rusk.
“But it started to get creepy. [Gibson] would just show up out of nowhere, on streets where Michael’s girlfriends lived,” he said.
“There was extremely inappropriate touching. The stalking, the grooming,” he said.
Rusk claims his son reported the behavior to others at the police department, but was written off. A Freedom of Information Act by 10 On Your Side requesting a history of any complaints filed against Gibson within the department was denied. Multiple attempts to reach Gibson for comment were unreturned.
On the 911 call, Rusk tells the dispatcher that he tried to deny Gibson’s advances.
“I told him ‘no’ and he just kept going. I told him to stop. He kept going. I thought he was gonna rape me,” he said.
The two are seen hours before the shooting on surveillance video. At first, they are sitting across from one another at a table. Then, Gibson moves around to the other side, so he is sitting next to Rusk. That’s when Gibson reaches for Rusk’s hand under the table. The advance is met with hesitation from the younger officer.
The video shows the two leaving the bar just about an hour before the shooting. After Gibson puts his hand on Rusk’s shoulder, you see Rusk forcefully push him off and put a finger in his face before walking away.
“If our client was a female, this case would be drastically different. It’s a clear self defense issue,” said Peyton Akers, one of Rusk’s lawyers.
“It’s very unfortunate that the narrative that’s out there isn’t the narrative that’s going to come to light at trial, if this goes to trial. I believe the 911 call will play a major role in our client’s innocence,” Akers said.
Listen to the complete 911 call here:
Rusk’s family hopes the new evidence will get his son’s charges dropped.
“If I had a daughter in the same position as my son, we wouldn’t even be here. They would have listened, we wouldn’t have an innocent person fighting for their freedom,” Rusk said.
Following the incident, James City County Police placed Rusk on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is being conducted by Williamsburg Police.
Both Williamsburg PD and James City County PD declined to offer comment for this story.
Calls to the special prosecutor trying this case were unreturned.
Check WAVY.com for the latest updates.