Censured Royal Oak official apologizes after shoplifting
A city commissioner recently censured and urged to resign on claims she ignored social distancing rules during a protest at the state Capitol has found herself in another bind.
Royal Oak City Commissioner Kim Gibbs was detained Wednesday by security workers at a Meijer store on Coolidge Highway for retail fraud and ticketed by police.
In a statement provided to The News, Gibbs apologized to her family, friends and constituents for her "substantial lapse in judgement (sic)."
"A combination of many external factors led to my poor judgement," she said. "The economic impact of the COVID-19 statewide lockdown has taken a serious toll on me personally. I obviously was not thinking clearly, and I take full responsibility for my actions."
Gibbs, noting health issues, further contends she recently "had to choose between insulin and food, and I chose the insulin, which helps me stay alive." She added she's now seeking medical treatment.
Gibbs is accused of taking a shopping cart of grocery items worth about $95 to a self check-out scanner inside the store and only paying for about $45 worth of the items, according to Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue.
The department got a call from Meijer loss prevention officers around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, saying Gibbs had been detained for retail fraud. She was issued a citation for third-degree retail fraud and released at the scene, the chief said.
O'Donohue said Gibbs was "cooperative" and he's not aware of her having any prior criminal record with the department.
David Gillam, Royal Oak’s city attorney and interim city manager, said an outside attorney will be handling the case for his office since Gibbs is a sitting city official.
Gibbs is charged with a misdemeanor offense that has a penalty of up to 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
There’s a chance that judges of Royal Oak's 44th District Court could cite a conflict, forcing the matter to be reassigned to another district court by the state Court Administrator’s Office.
“It’s an unfortunate incident and based upon the comments she made (in the released statement) we’re obviously concerned about commissioner Gibbs,” Gillam said. “Going forward, we’re not going to wish her anything but the best.”
Prior to her being censured by a 5-2 vote late last month, Royal Oak's mayor asked Gibbs to step down, citing a "complete lack of judgment" during an Operation Gridlock rally in Lansing. Michael Fournier said Gibbs put herself and others at risk by flouting distancing guidelines laid out in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order for COVID-19.
"Recent threats and harassment along with censure in Royal Oak for my attendance at 'Operation Gridlock' and a lack of sleep have resulted in my mistake," Gibbs' statement reads.
Gibbs has rejected Fournier's claims and his request for her resignation. An attorney for Gibbs, a Republican who is running against Oakland County Commission Chairman David Woodward, D-Royal Oak, has threatened a lawsuit over the censure.
After the rally, Gibbs posted on Facebook that she'd attended "to support the unheard voices of small business owners and those who work for them." She told The News that while on foot that day she came into contact with only about three people, all of whom remained more than six feet away.
"Nobody was violating anybody else's personal space," she said in a phone interview last month. "My ability to serve the community and those who voted for me has nothing to do with me being there."
Gibbs has said she's been under police protection in recent weeks after receiving harassing and threatening calls, emails and text messages over her attendance at the rally.
A copy of Gibbs' complaint obtained by The Detroit News under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act indicated she turned over a voicemail to police from an unknown caller that said: "Please do not leave your house. The fact that you put lives at danger is completely unacceptable. Don't leave the house and infect people by going to the store. Please quarantine yourself for 14 days, that's the right thing to do."