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
Don't be fooled into thinking the Fairfax County Police well ever wear body games without a court order
Area Police Meet With Body Camera Vendors
By David Culver
As more police departments move ahead with plans to equip officers with body cameras, there are questions about how the video gathered is stored and secured. Northern Virginia Bureau reporter David Culver reports. (Published Tuesday, Jul 14, 2015)
Law enforcement from across the D.C. area are meeting with body camera vendors Tuesday and Wednesday to explore implementing them in local jurisdictions.
Police are examining new body camera technologies and looking into the complexities of storing and securing all the data.
There’s been a growing push for more transparency by police. Law enforcement from Fairfax County and Prince William County are now moving forward with their own body camera projects.
“This is the next big thing for law enforcement," said Capt. Robert Blakely, who is helping Fairfax County Police lead the effort while acknowledging it’s complicated. “It’s how the departments deploy the cameras and what they do with the data," he added.
Police departments across have the option of using several different types of body camera, but storing the hours and hours of video data is the challenge.
Steve Petruzzo’s GreenTec-USA is among the many companies that thinks it may have a solution. It's pitching storage capabilities that hold the original video quality that's untouched by any officer.
“Digital evidence has to be recorded in a way and handled in a way such that it’s immutable, you can’t be challenged in court that the data’s been deleted or modified or edited or altered," Petruzzo said.
Green Tec-USA says its business is booming after only two years in the body camera market.
“Need for video and need for evidence is probably going to be around for a long time," said Richard Detore, Green Tec CEO. "We’re going to need to be able to manage it and deal with it and more importantly protect it.”
Detore said cyberhacks are something they feel confident they can thwart.
Prince William County Police is among the agencies funded to move ahead. The department’s IT manager, Lt. Javid Elahi, is looking at several vendors to start testing.
Northern Virginia Police Body Camera Policies:
• Fairfax City: Funded; initial stages of testing
• Prince William County: Funded; meeting with vendors
• Fairfax County: Not yet funded; meeting with vendors
• Fredericksburg: Began using last year (2014)
• ArlingtonCounty: Not immediately pursuing body cams
• Alexandria: Not immediately pursuing body cams
• Loudoun County: No response
Allegedly Embezzled More Than $200,000 from Asset Forfeiture Fund
U.S. Attorney’s Office July 09, 2015 • Eastern District of Virginia (703) 299-3700
ALEXANDRIA, VA—Frank Michael Pearson, 44, a former Loudon County Sheriff’s Deputy from Winchester, Virginia, was indicted by a federal grand jury today on four counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal benefits in relation to his alleged embezzlement of over $200,000 from the asset forfeiture fund at the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge of the Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, announced the charges after the grand jury returned the indictment today. An arraignment has been scheduled for July 24, 2015 at 9 a.m. before U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis, III.
Pearson faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each count if convicted. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
According to the indictment, beginning in 2006 Pearson was designated as the deputy responsible for overseeing the asset forfeiture program for the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office. The indictment further alleges that from in or about 2010 through in or about 2013, Pearson embarked on a scheme to embezzle and steal money totaling in excess of $200,000, which had been entrusted to him in connection with the program. The indictment further alleges that Pearson concealed his embezzlement scheme by making false statements to his coworkers and others about the timing and fact of whether he had deposited seized money into an escrow account maintained by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office at a local bank.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Virginia State Police. The Loudon County Sheriff’s Office cooperated with the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Burke and Mark D. Lytle are prosecuting the case.
Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:15cr193.
This content has been reproduced from its original source.
These companies sponsored the Police game in Fairfax County, thanks for nothing
News and events in civilian oversight and police accountability.
In this Edition...
• Early Registration Deadline Approaching for 21st Annual Conference
• Purchase Your Annual Scholarship Fundraising Dinner Tickets Today
• Nomination Period Open to Run for the NACOLE Board
• Announcing 2015 NACOLE Award and Scholarship Recipients
• BART Police Department Adopts Transgender Policy
• NACOLE Attends 39th Annual NOBLE Conference in Indianapolis
Early Registration Deadline Approaching for 21st Annual Conference
The early registration deadline for the 2015 Annual NACOLE Conference is JULY 31, 2015. All paid registrations received on or before this date will qualify for the reduced rate. To guarantee your discount, register today!
This year’s conference will feature a conference schedule with more topics, more speakers, and more opportunities to contribute to the growing national dialogue around civilian oversight.
For a copy of the complete 2015 conference schedule, go to the website
Purchase Your Annual Scholarship Fundraising Dinner Tickets Today
Join us for our annual scholarship fundraising dinner at Heroes Restaurant and Brewery, located in downtown Riverside. In addition to good food and good conversation, you will be supporting NACOLE’s efforts to offer financial support to those wishing to attend the Annual Conference, to increase the reach of civilian oversight, and to promote participation by individuals from a broad spectrum of social, economic, racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
Seats to this event are limited and WILL NOT be available for purchase at the conference. Make sure to purchase your tickets today!
Nomination Period Open to Run for the NACOLE Board
The nomination period to run for the NACOLE Board of Directors is open until September 6, 2015. File your declaration today! Serving on the Board is an exciting way to help shape the direction of the association, to work closely with your oversight colleagues, and to support communities across the country looking to establish or improve oversight of the police.
To be eligible, candidates shall have been association members in good standing for one year; they must have attended at least one of the two previous annual conferences; and their membership dues must be current. This year, the membership will elect the President, the Vice-President, and two Board members at the Annual Meeting on October 7, 2015.
How to file: Send your signed declaration form (and bio and photo) to the Election and Bylaws Committee by no later than September 6, 2015. Please mail or email your declaration to: Ainsley Cromwell, Chair, NACOLE Election Committee, 1063 Trevor Place, Detroit, MI 48207, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
All election-related material and information can be found HERE on the NACOLE website.
Announcing 2015 NACOLE Award and Scholarship Recipients
NACOLE is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2015 Flame Award and Achievement in Oversight Awards. They are:
Charles D. Reynolds, recipient of the 2015 Flame Award, is a court-appointed consent decree monitor, a former chief of police in five communities, a past-president of an international police executive organization, a recognized expert on police organizational and management issues, and a past NACOLE board member.
St. Louis City Aldermen Terry Kennedy and Antonio French serve their community with distinction as elected representatives of their wards on the Board of Aldermen and are together recipients of one of this year’s Achievement in Oversight awards.
Samara Marion, a policy analyst and staff lawyer with the San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints, is a recipient of the second Achievement in Oversight award.
NACOLE is also pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015 Scholarship Awards in the following categories:
Founders’ Community Scholarship Award: Deborah Jacobs, Melissa Smith, Olga Orraca, Torin Jacobs
Presidents’ Scholarship Award: Lynn Erickson, Marielle Moore
Membership Scholarship Award: Richard Olquin, Aisha Miles
BART Police Department Adopts Transgender Policy
As a result of a recommendation made by its Civilian Review Board, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police Department adopted a policy on interactions with individuals identifying as transgender.
The policy aims to increase awareness among officers and to support the need for all members of the community to be treated fairly and with respect.
NACOLE Attends 39th Annual NOBLE Conference in Indianapolis
NACOLE President Brian Buchner and Cameron McEllhiney, NACOLE’s Director of Training & Education, attended the 39th Annual Conference of the National Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOBLE invited Mr. Buchner to participate in the Opening Plenary Session where the Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice Loretta Lynch delivered the Keynote address. As an invited guest, NACOLE was also given free booth space in the Exhibition Hall, which turned out to be a great opportunity to meet and speak with law enforcement officials and NOBLE members about NACOLE and civilian oversight. It was a good opportunity to build a relationship with NOBLE and its members, as there is alignment between what NOBLE and NACOLE have been working toward for many years. NOBLE’s 40th anniversary conference will be held in 2016 in Washington, DC. More information about NOBLE is available on its website, www.noblenational.org.
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