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Man Suspected of Hitting, Killing Modesto Police Sergeant Appears in Court

MODESTO -- As a law enforcement family, Modesto police officers and cadets filed into a Stanislaus County courtroom to support one of their own, fallen Sgt. Mike Pershall.

"And our officers just want to be here to see what happens in the court in the court arraignment and to be there for the family," said Modesto Police Galen Carroll said.

On Thursday, Matthew Gibbs faced a Stanislaus County judge. Cameras were not allowed inside the courtroom.

The Modesto man faces murder and manslaughter charges in the death of Modesto police sergeant Mike Pershall.

CHP Modesto says Gibbs was drunk Tuesday evening when his car hit Pershall. Friends say he was off duty, enjoying a bike ride with his son.

"There's no reason to drink and drive. With Uber, and taxis, like that there's no reason to drink and drive," Carroll said.

According to records FOX40 obtained, Gibbs had been arrested twice before for DUI-related charges. The charges against him were dismissed in Stanislaus County.

His attorney claims Gibbs' right to a speedy trial had been violated.

Chief Carroll says he's trying to cope with Gibbs' past.

"I think anger is an emotion that you really don't want to hold in your life or in your heart because anger actually destroys you," Carroll said.

Friends and loved ones overwhelmed with sadness and grief. But they're holding onto how Pershall lived his life -- reminded of how he protected the Modesto community.

"Take the lead on it, run with it, he was a motivator, he was a leader," said Modesto police Officer Billy Boyle. "The void that we have now at the department is going to be acting as a reminder for us to be like Mike."