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Vegas Tale of the Tapes

Las Vegas- The much-anticipated parking garage videotapes were released Thursday morning, but questions about what happened between gubernatorial candidate Jim Gibbons and cocktail waitress Chrissy Mazzeo remained.

Las Vegas police turned over two videotapes to Gibbons’ attorney, Don Campbell, at 8 a.m. as well as to Mazzeo’s attorney, Richard Wright. At a news conference at 10 a.m., Campbell handed his set to Associated Press reporter Kathleen Hennessey with the understanding that the news organization would make and distribute copies of the tapes to the rest of the media.

“I thought about this and couldn’t think of any better plan than that,” Campbell said.

But the look of surprise on Hennessey’s face hinted at the developments that would unfold throughout the day. By evening, no copies of the tapes had been provided to other media, the AP had released only a short segment taken from one of the 26 camera angles on the two tapes, and the news organization had returned the tapes to Campbell after he asked for them back.

Tom Tait, Nevada news editor for the AP, said his organization thought it was getting only copies of the tapes and never agreed to copying and distributing them to other media. The situation was further complicated by the antiquated format of the security video, which required a hard-to-find system to properly view the footage.

“We didn’t know what we were being handed, and we didn’t unilaterally enter into a pool situation,” Tait said, referring to the arrangements sometimes entered by media organizations to use one as a conduit for distributing information to other media entities.

The AP spent most of the day trying to find a multiplexer video machine to view the tapes, which are unreadable on regular VCRs.

Each tape contains 24 hours of coverage — from about 1:30 a.m. Oct. 13 to about 1:30 a.m. the next day — condensed into eight hours of footage. One tape includes 11 camera angles, and the other has 15 angles. A multiplexer enables each of the camera angles to be viewed at once.

The AP eventually found a machine, but it could show only nine camera angles. The organization’s partial review of the tapes did not reveal the presence of either Gibbons, 61, or Mazzeo, 32, during the time frame in which she says he pushed her against a wall inside the garage and threatened her.

The married five-term congressman has denied her account.

The AP viewed tape from nine of the 15 cameras recording the period from 9:15 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Mazzeo first called police at 10:23 p.m. on Oct. 13 and has said the assault occurred near elevators in front of surveillance cameras.

The cameras filming an area in front of the first-floor elevators showed neither Mazzeo nor Gibbons, only black-and-white images of elevator doors and an occasional appearance of a security guard and a white cat.

Las Vegas police detectives had watched all the footage on a department multiplexer, but because of the ongoing investigation, police would not discuss what was on the tapes or allow the Review-Journal or other media organizations to use the machine, said Deputy Chief Greg McCurdy, head of the investigative services division.

District Judge Douglas Herndon ordered police to release the tapes after a hearing Monday morning. Campbell filed a lawsuit to force the Metropolitan Police Department to release the tapes, saying they would prove Gibbons never entered the parking garage as Mazzeo has claimed.

“My client has told me he’s not on it. I believe it’s important for you to see he’s not on it,” Campbell said Thursday.

Police received the tapes Oct. 25 from Crescent Real Estate Equities, which owns the Hughes Center office complex on Paradise and Flamingo roads, nearly two weeks after the Oct. 13 run-in between Gibbons and Mazzeo.

Campbell said he had not viewed the tapes because he didn’t have the proper equipment. Detectives assured him that the tapes had not been tampered with, he said.

“There was never a suggestion made by any of the detectives or specialists there that this tape was anything but authentic,” Campbell said.

Sources have said the tapes do not show Gibbons or Mazzeo, and Campbell said lawyers for Crescent had told him the same thing.

Mazzeo, a single mother, told police that Gibbons grabbed her arms, shoved her against a parking garage wall and threatened her after a night of drinking at the nearby McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant.

The next day, Mazzeo withdrew a complaint against Gibbons, but she refiled a misdemeanor battery complaint Monday that restarted the police investigation.

from LAS VEGAS- A surveillance videotape released today (Thursday) by Congressman Jim Gibbons’ lawyer does not appear to show the gubernatorial candidate or a woman who has accused him of assaulting her in a parking garage.

A partial review of portions of the tape by The Associated Press did not reveal evidence supporting 32-year-old Chrissy Mazzeo’s allegations.

Mazzeo says Gibbons pushed her against a wall inside the garage and propositioned her after a night of drinking with friends at a Las Vegas restaurant-bar.

Gibbons denies her account.

The Associated Press was not able to view the tapes in their entirety, and was not able to review every camera running during the hour before Mazzeo called police late October 13th. The tapes must be viewed with a video device called a multiplexer.

They have been returned to Gibbons’ lawyer.

Gibbons campaign spokesman Robert Uithoven said the tapes have been distributed KLAS-TV and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Mazzeo’s accusation is being investigated by police and has spawned a media frenzy consuming Gibbons’ campaign in the final stretch of his race against Democratic state Senator Dina Titus.

Gibbons filed suit to force Las Vegas police to release the videos — claiming they showed he did nothing wrong.


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