A woman was arrested in Westminster, Colorado, on Jan. 24 following an argument with a man outside of a Party City store. Charleene Gibson was arrested following an altercation with the man near 92nd Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard.
Gibson was arrested after the incident took place in front of the party supplies store in suburban Denver with a man who tried to take a picture of her car parked near the entrance.
However, Gibson said she was there to stock up on supplies for her birthday and had parked close to the front door after receiving permission from the store clerk.
“The Party City employee said it was OK to park there for a few minutes while we load balloons in the car. I stayed in the car and turned my hazards on,” said Gibson.
Gibson said she stepped in front of his lens when the man tried to take a picture of her car after complaining she’d blocked the curb ramp. Gibson said that’s when the man attacked her and hit her several times before she struck him back.
“Then he grabbed me,” she said. “And punched me in my jaw and then he yanked me again and then punched me two times right here, and that’s when I started to punch him back.”
A video of the arrest went viral, which captured the police arresting Gibson as a friend who witnessed the argument, NiaShay Burns, recorded the arrest on her cellphone. Burns is heard on the video repeatedly saying, “He hit her first!”
Burns can be heard on the video telling the officers that three women plus another witness were telling them that the man hit her first as a male officer handcuffed Gibson.
A female officer moved to arrest Gibson’s sister Amber after she seemingly began to try to walk away from the scene after seeing Gibson being put in handcuffs. As the officer shoved Amber against a vehicle, Burns cried out, “She didn’t do anything!”
The female officer later grabbed Gibson’s arm forcibly and escorted her to one of several police vehicles as Burns again told the officers, “You guys! He hit her first!” After asking the police officers if the man was going to jail, one of the police officers told Burns that the man would be receiving a citation and was not being arrested.
“So, he’s not going to jail, but he hit her first, and he’s a man and she’s a woman,” Burns replied. “Wait, wait, I’m confused.”
“I understand that,” replied one police officer. “We can go over this at f— court, OK?”
Burns later captured the man standing in the doorway of the store and said, “This man punched my cousin in the face, and he’s not going to jail but she is.” Gibson was arrested for 3rd-degree felony assault of an at-risk adult because of the man’s age. He is 74 years old.
Burns shared the video on TikTok with the caption, “Went to jail for defending herself while the guy a white man at that who punched her got a summons share this help us fight this.”
According to local reports the man received a ticket for misdemeanor third-degree assault as well as disorderly conduct. The man told the police that Gibson knocked his phone out of his hand. One witness claimed that the women assaulted the man after cornering him, but another said that the man punched Gibson in the face and that the other two women came and tried to help her.
“When we were tussling and moving around, my sister Amber was trying to get him off of me,” said Gibson. “He was antagonizing us, saying stuff like ‘bring it on.'”
Local news outlet 9News reported that after they began asking questions regarding the arrest video, the Westminster Police Department called Gibson to advise her they were no longer charging her with felony assault and had downgraded her charge to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. The WPD claimed the witnesses gave conflicting statements and they dropped the felony charge after talking with the District Attorney.
Additionally, an investigation has been launched into how the officers handled the arrest.
Burns is certain that without that video evidence, Gibson would still be facing a felony charge. “If I didn’t have my phone and I didn’t take it out in this situation, she would have gotten a felony charge.” Burns said.
“I don’t want to sugarcoat it, but I do — like, that’s what it is. It’s because of the color of our skin,” added Gibson. “It’s the fact that we were upset, and we were expressing ourselves —that I went to jail.”