It was two years ago today that Cathedral City police Officer Jermaine Gibson, a USMC combat veteran and resident of Beaumont, was killed in a fiery pursuit crash in Palm Springs.
Gibson was chasing a wanted parolee in a stolen vehicle when his patrol car crashed into a palm tree and burst into flames on South Palm Canyon Drive just before midnight March 18.
He was pronounced deceased at 12:10 a.m. March 19, 2011, according to Riverside County coroner's staff.
Gibson, 29, was survived by his wife, Jessica, his son who was one month old at the time, Jermaine Anthony Gibson Jr., both of Beaumont, his mother, Cheryl Gibson of Vallejo, and his brother, Taurean R. Gibson of Vallejo.
Jermaine Jr., now 2 years 1 month old, visited the crash site and his father's grave at Riverside National Cemetery on Tuesday morning, his grandmother in Beaumont said in a phone interview.
In late March 2011, hundreds of law enforcement officers and military veterans mourned at his funeral service in Indian Wells, took part in a motorcade across Riverside County, and attended his burial service at Riverside National Cemetery.
The man Gibson was chasing, Durjan Germaine Gray, now 36, remained locked up Tuesday at Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.
Gray is charged with murder, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs causing great bodily injury, evading arrest causing great bodily injury, and engaging in criminal street gang activity.
Court and inmate records indicate Gray has a trial readiness conference scheduled April 30, 2013, at Larson Justice Center in Indio.
Gibson started his law enforcement career as a teenage volunteer Police Explorer in Richmond, Calif. He served two tours in Iraq with the Marine Corps, earned a Purple Heart, and was honorably discharged as an infantry squad leader.
Gibson had been with Cathedral City police about 18 months, and he'd been a fully-sworn law enforcement officer for three years.
The day of his death, California Gov. Jerry Brown described Gibson as "a young man with a distinguished record of service to his country and community" and ordered state Capitol flags lowered to half-staff in Gibson's honor.
"Every day, officers put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe and Officer Gibson's service and sacrifice will not be forgotten," Brown said in a statement. "We offer our deepest condolences to the friends, family and fellow officers mourning this loss."
A memorial fund was established to assist Gibson's family through the Cathedral City Police Officers Association. Inquiries and donations should be directed to CCPOA President Rick Sanchez at (760) 770-0381 or firstname.lastname@example.org.