Fairfax County Judge Orders More John Geer Materials Released
Family’s lawyer’s motions supported.
By Tim Peterson
Though extensive, the thousands of pages of documents, dozens of audio files and handful of videos released last month by Fairfax County, documenting the shooting death of Springfield resident John Geer, aren’t exhaustive.
On Feb. 6, Michael Lieberman, the lawyer representing Geer’s family and partner Maura Harrington, brought several motions to Fairfax County Circuit Court, compelling the county to produce additional materials.
Geer was shot by Fairfax County Police Officer PFC Adam Torres Aug. 29, 2013, while he stood in the doorway of his home with hands raised. The county’s Jan. 30 public release includes documentation of the initial internal criminal investigation of the incident by the Fairfax County Police Department.
Judge Randy I. Bellows granted some of Lieberman’s requests and deferred the one for Torres’ closed Internal Affairs personnel file.
“What did county know, when did they know it and what did they do about it?” said Lieberman, who first filed a $12 million civil suit in December 2014 against FCPD Police Chief Edwin C Roessler and unknown officers who were involved with the incident.
Lieberman is seeking “factual and evaluative” information regarding another incident, when Torres reportedly had an outburst with Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Charles Peters in a courtroom, in March 2013. The county has a Feb. 20 deadline to produce that investigation file.
Since Lieberman’s suit was filed before Fairfax County released the name of Geer’s shooter, he is also planning to amend the initial complaint, adding Torres’ name and names of the FCPD supervisors who were on the scene and assisted remotely.
Bellows’ ruling favors Lieberman’s request for release of those other officers’ information, and gives Lieberman until March 6 to file an amendment to the complaint.
In an interview, Lieberman said this case has “very similar attributes” to the 2006 death of Salvatore J Culosi, with which he was also involved. Culosi was killed by another FCPD officer in front of his Fair Lakes area townhouse.
Lieberman said “through expert testimony and through a test of the police department officer who shot Dr. Culosi,” it was clear the officers were violating rules of weapon control, including pointing at people without imminent danger.
In addition to his other discovery requests, the lawyer wants to know if Fairfax County has made an effort to retrain officers since the Culosi killing.
“From our mind, the county should’ve been on notice,” Lieberman said. “You have a problem: No one’s doing it. That’s called a custom. It was a problem in 2006 and surely was a problem in 2013. Maybe it was all avoidable if they had just done something different. Maybe Mr. Geer would be alive today.”