Fairfax Cops Block Geer Killing Investigations
By John Lovaas/Reston Impact Producer/Host
#Finally some of the smoke is clearing. Sixteen months after unarmed John Geer was killed standing in his doorway by an unidentified Fairfax County Police officer we are getting an explanation of the wall of silence surrounding his death. In response to an inquiry by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the Fairfax Commonwealth Attorney (prosecutor) Raymond Morrogh revealed why he failed to complete his investigation into Mr. Geer’s killing and took the unusual step of passing the case to the U.S. Attorney (U.S. Justice Dept.) a year ago. The Fairfax prosecutor typically works closely with police investigators looking into possible abuse or criminal acts by police officers. He depends on their detective work in deciding whether to recommend charges or empanel a grand jury (as in Ferguson, Mo. or New York City) to seek indictment. In the case of John Geer’s death, Mr. Morrogh told Senator Grassley that “the decision by the Chief of Police…to withhold requested materials effectively prevented me from completing the investigation and rendering a decision.” Morrogh said that Chief Roessler, who is appointed by and in theory accountable to Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, was supported by County Attorney David Bobzien, also a subordinate of the Chairman and Board of Supervisors in refusing to hand over evidence. Furthermore, Roessler also refused to cooperate in providing evidence requested by the Justice Department. Finally, the Justice Department took the County and Police to court, and a judge ordered Fairfax County Police to provide the evidence sought. Only now, under court order, have the cops agreed to cooperate to some extent with the U.S. Attorney’s investigation. We shall see.
#What on earth is going on here? Why have we heard nothing from the people who the Police Chief works for—Fairfax Board Chairman Sharon Bulova and the nine silent District Supervisors? On Fairfax County’s organization chart, it is clear that the Police Department--just like the Departments of Community Services, Planning and Zoning, and Information Technology, for example—reports to, takes direction from and has its policies set by the Chairman and Board of Supervisors. Department chiefs can also be removed by the Board.
#Why have Bulova and the Board not directed FCPD to drop the shroud of secrecy so inappropriate in an open society, and to cooperate fully with the Commonwealth Attorney and Justice Department? Indeed, who is in charge?
#Perhaps Chairman Bulova and the Supes have not noticed the growing agitation here and around the USA about the lack of accountability of police forces often resembling military units. In view of the Geer killing and several others here under questionable circumstances—including Dr. Salvatore Culosi, Randal Leroy Collins, David Masters, Hailu Brooks—and FCPD’s 72-year history of no officer ever being charged, Fairfax County may be the impunity capitol of the country. Other jurisdictions the size of Fairfax County have created independent citizen oversight panels to assure transparency and open communication on matters of police abuse and use of lethal force. It is time this County did so as well. Tragically, Fairfax County’s lack of accountability encourages a small number of trigger-happy bad actors within the force to abuse their power, and lose for all the confidence of those they are supposed to protect.