Just when you think the fairfax county police can't sink any lower they pull this stunt
Family slams subpoena of John Geer’s teen daughter to Fairfax grand jury
By Tom Jackman July 13
As the special grand jury investigating the Fairfax County police shooting death of an unarmed Fairfax County man in 2013 prepares to meet later this month, prosecutors have subpoenaed one of the man’s teenage daughters, prompting fears from her family that her testimony will be used to disparage John Geer in front of the jury. The teen did not witness the shooting but made comments about her father’s temper and drinking immediately afterward that her mother says were irrelevant and untrue.
The officer who killed Geer, Adam D. Torres, remains on the job and has not faced internal discipline or criminal charges since the shooting 22 months ago. Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh launched the special grand jury to determine whether Torres should be charged with a crime.
A police internal affairs investigation that began in September 2014 is not complete, and Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. said he could not comment on when it would be concluded.
Geer’s longtime girlfriend, Maura Harrington, with whom Geer had two daughters, said she was not surprised to receive her subpoena to the grand jury but was stunned when a detective presented one for her now 19-year-old daughter, Haylea Geer.
“Why does she have to relive this in front of the grand jury?” Harrington asked in an interview last week. “What purpose does it serve?”
Undated photo of John B. Geer with his daughters Haylea and Morgan. (Photo by Maura Harrington)
Harrington and her daughters were in a neighboring townhouse in the Springfield section of Fairfax County when Geer was shot and killed. After he was shot, Geer stumbled into his home and closed the front door. When a SWAT team found Geer dead nearly an hour later, homicide detective Robert Bond was assigned to speak to Harrington and the girls and make formal notification of Geer’s death.
The younger daughter, Morgan, was too upset, but Haylea agreed to go with Bond, Harrington said. “I thought they were just going to tell her what happened,” Harrington said. “It just did not occur to me that they were actually questioning her. She didn’t know she was being tape-recorded. I didn’t know they were doing that.” It wasn’t until more than halfway through the conversation, attorney Michael Lieberman said, that Bond told Haylea that her father was dead.
According to Bond’s report, Haylea told him that “her dad is mean to her mother” and that Geer had once put a gun to her mother’s head. Haylea also said that her father “drinks a lot,” but “she didn’t think her dad was drinking today,” Bond wrote.
Harrington said the claim about the gun to her head was false. She said that she, too, did not think Geer had been drinking that day.
“Whatever happened in their house,” Lieberman said, “how is that relevant
to why Torres pulled the trigger over an hour later? Is this going to be a fair replay of that day, or are they just going to be in there trying to destroy John?”
Morrogh said that Haylea Geer had witnessed events prior to the arrival of police. “As far as the information regarding Mr. Geer’s background goes,” Morrogh said, “under Virginia law evidence of the turbulent character of a decedent is admissible in evidence whether the defendant is aware of the decedent’s turbulent character or not. The rationale is that the prior character of the decedent is admissible to show who was the aggressor in the situation.”
Morrogh noted that in many cases he has tried, “defense attorneys spend a good part of their efforts trashing decedents on all sorts of background information which is considered exculpatory material.”
John B. Geer. Killed by Fairfax Officer Adam D. Torres in August 2013. No charges or internal discipline have been filed against Torres but a special grand jury is about to begin investigating. (Photo by Jeff Stewart)
Last month, Morrogh said that he had subpoenaed about 20 witnesses to the special grand jury. Fairfax police declined to discuss which officers had been called to testify, and whether Torres will appear before the grand jury could not be determined. His attorney, John F. Carroll, did not return a message seeking comment.
[John B. Geer had hands up when shot by police, four officers say in documents]
Fairfax prosecutors rarely use special grand juries, which are empaneled to hear evidence on one case only, and prosecutors typically do not invite the subject of a grand jury investigation to testify.
On the afternoon of Aug. 29, 2013, Harrington came home to the family’s townhouse on Pebble Brook Court to find Geer tossing her belongings out of the house, in response to the news that Harrington was moving out.
Torres and Officer David Neil were dispatched to the domestic disturbance call. When they arrived, Geer and Harrington were speaking in front of the house with their daughters, then 17 and 13, nearby. Geer knew Harrington had called the police, and when he saw the officers he turned and walked into the house.
Harrington said she never saw Geer with a gun, as Torres has told investigators, and that she never told police Geer was considering “suicide by cop,” as an officer radioed to colleagues during the 42-minute showdown before Torres suddenly fired one fatal shot. Police photos show a holstered gun on the landing near Geer’s body.
Harrington said she was told that prosecutors wanted to review her daughter’s “taped statement” given moments after her father’s death, and they were told the purpose of the conversation was for Detective Bond to make notification of the death, not to do an investigation of Geer’s background.
Harrington said: “I want to have confidence in the commonwealth’s attorney. I want this to be done fairly.”
In April, Fairfax County agreed to pay Haylea and Morgan Geer $2.95 million to settle their civil suit.
Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998