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A Good Samaritan who witnessed her nephew fatally shoot a friend, and subsequently helped Los Angeles County prosecutors secure a conviction with her testimony, was honored on June 15 at a Courageous Citizens Awards ceremony held by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Looking on from a second-story window on April 6, 2009, Versie Gipson, 54, watched her then-20-year-old nephew and his parents arguing outside of an apartment complex. As the argument escalated, a friend — who had dropped by to visit Gipson’s nephew — unknowingly approached the feuding family. Without warning, Gipson’s nephew drew a handgun and fatally shot the friend four times in the head. The assailant turned the gun on his father, striking him in the left shoulder. Gipson’s nephew then fled the scene.
After the shooting, Gipson called police and provided details of the incident. Despite intense family pressure to recant her story, Gipson was the only witness to cooperate with police and testify against her nephew. Ultimately, the defendant was convicted of one count each of second-degree murder and attempted murder, and was sentenced to 72 years to life in prison.
In addition to Gipson, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office presented Courageous Citizen Awards to Lloyd Joseph Collins, 47, and Elias Mejia, 40. Collins, a tow-truck driver, helped authorities catch a purse-snatcher. Mejia came to the aid of a woman physically assaulted by a stranger in Koreatown.
The District Attorney’s Office presents Courageous Citizen Awards several times a year to citizens who have performed extraordinary acts of valor and selflessness in aiding victims, preventing crime, capturing suspects and assisting in criminal prosecution.
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