In-Custody Death Investigation Underway; Initial Indications Suggest Nothing Suspicious
BY FCPD MEDIA RELATIONS BUREAU ON APRIL 16, 2017
Detectives are investigating the death of an inmate that occurred today, Sunday, April 16, at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, located at 10520 Judicial Drive in Fairfax. Sheriff’s deputies discovered a 49-year-old woman unresponsive inside her cell around 9:10 a.m. They began CPR and called for emergency medical personnel, who pronounced her dead.
Detectives responded, as it is our protocol to investigate all in-custody deaths. Detectives have established there were no apparent signs of trauma and the decedent was alone in the cell. She has been incarcerated since Wednesday, April 12.
Her identity will be released once we make appropriate notifications. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the exact cause and manner of death. An update on the investigation will be provided within 30 days or as information becomes available.
officer can move forward
By: Alexandra Limon
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A federal judge said a lawsuit against Fairfax County that alleges a police officer used excessive force can move forward.
The September 2015 incident showing an officer using a stun gun on Elton Cansler was recorded by witnesses on their cell phones in a shopping plaza in the Franconia area of Fairfax County.
During a hearing on Friday, the judge referred to the video calling it "pretty clear evidence" documenting what happened.
dge rules lawsuit claiming excessive force by Fairfax County officer can move forward
“I'm feeling good that everything is going forward,” said Cansler.
The lawsuit filed by Cansler and his attorneys states that the amount of force used by Officer Alan Hanks was excessive.
“The suit alleges a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights,” said Maxwelle Sokol, Cansler’s attorney.
Those rights guarantee a reasonable amount of force during an arrest. The portion of the lawsuit states that department policies violate those constitutional protections.
Several days after the incident, Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler held a press conference clearing Officer Hanks of any wrongdoing and saying he complied with policy.
“If a police department's policy says using the Taser as it was used in this case is fine, then that is a deficient policy,” said Sokol.
However, the portion of the suit that names the police chief personally as a defendant was dismissed. But it can be filed again at a later time.
Fairfax County officials and attorneys declined to comment due to pending litigation. They instead referred us back to a written statement released by Chief Roessler in 2015 that said in part:
“The officer, a seven year member of the department, currently assigned to the Franconia District Station, was confronted by a man, later identified as Elton Cansler, who was physically resisting a lawful arrest, assaulted the officer, and kept reaching to his pocket where a knife had been seen by the officer. At the time of the deployment of the ECW, the officer could not see where Mr. Cansler’s hands were going and had reasonable fear that Mr. Cansler was again reaching into his pocket for the knife.
“The officer’s discretion was appropriately used to deploy a form of a less-lethal force and in compliance with all policies and laws in this matter.”
Cansler's attorney said the video shows his hands remained on the hood of the cruiser when he was Tased.
“I just want right to be right,” Cansler said.
The lawsuit does not ask for a specific amount of money. Instead, it leaves that up to a jury.
YOU CAN'T REGULATE
A PUNK ATTITUDE
Fairfax County Civilian Review Panel Sworn in
Inaugural meeting of the Civilian Review Panel
The nine members of the Civilian Review Panel marked with *: Gerarda Culipher, Deputy Clerk of the Circuit Court; Randy Sayles,* Oak Hill; Rhonda VanLowe,* Reston; Kathleen Davis-Siudut,* Springfield; Adrian Steel,* McLean, chairman of the panel; Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Board of Supervisors; Judge William Webster; Supervisor John Cook, chairman of Public Safety Committee; Jean Senseman,* Lorton; Douglas Kay,* Fairfax; Hollye Doane,* Oakton; Steve Descano,* Springfield; and Hansel Aguilar,* Fairfax. Photo by Mary Kimm.
Former director of the FBI and CIA, Judge William Webster addressed inaugural meeting of the Civilian Review Panel on Monday, March 20 about the importance of civilian oversight.
Judge William Webster and Adrian Steel, chairman of the inaugural Civilian Review Panel. Steel was special assistant to Webster at the FBI.
#The nine members of the Fairfax County Civilian Review Panel were sworn in at the panel’s inaugural meeting on Monday, March 20.
#Judge William Webster, former director of the FBI and CIA, spoke on the importance of civilian oversight of law enforcement. “Civilian oversight is important in a country where we want people to feel safe,” Webster said. He urged panel members to consider the promise he made when he joined the FBI: To do what the citizens expect in the way that the Constitution allows.
#The nine members appointed by the Board of Supervisors are: Hansel Aguilar, Fairfax; Kathleen Davis-Siudut, Springfield; Steve Descano, Springfield; Hollye Doane, Oakton; Douglas Kay, Fairfax; Randy Sayles, Oak Hill; Jean Senseman, Lorton; Adrian Steel, McLean, chairman; and Rhonda VanLowe, Reston. They were among more than 140 applicants for the volunteer positions.
#“This is historic,” said Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “The creation of this panel and the creation of the independent auditor position were two of the primary recommendations of the Ad Hoc Commission.”
#Bulova appointed the 30-member Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission in October 2015 in the wake of public concern after the police shooting death of John Geer in August 2013. The commission, which included full participation of the Fairfax County Police Department, made 140 recommendations, most either already implemented or in process.
#FCPD Police Chief Edwin Roessler pledged his support to the panel on Monday, saying that it would help “build upon the trust the public gives us.”
#The Civilian Review Panel will act as an independent avenue for residents to submit complaints concerning allegations of abuse of authority or misconduct by a FCPD officer. The panel will have the authority to request and review completed Police Department internal administrative investigations regarding a civilian complaint against an officer. The panel may hold public meetings to review police administrative investigations and walk through with members of the community how the investigation was conducted, including findings of fact, evidence collected and witness statements.
#The Civilian Review Panel will not address use of force by police that results in serious injury or death; those will be monitored by the newly hired Police Auditor, Richard G. Schott.
Fairfax County police release name of officer in fatal shooting after he drops suit
By Justin Jouvenal March 2
Fairfax County police released the name Thursday of an officer involved in a fatal shooting in January after he told a federal court that he would drop legal efforts to block making the ¬information public.
Master Police Officer Lance Guckenberger, a 16-year veteran, fatally shot a man in Herndon on Jan. 16 after police said the man lunged at officers with a knife following a standoff at his home.
Police said the man had previously shot two people and was holding a roommate hostage. He also set a fire in the home, putting the roommate at risk.
[Man fatally shot after standoff at Herndon home]
Police said Guckenberger was involved in two previous ¬nonfatal shootings in 2005 and 2010. In both instances, ¬prosecutors found the shootings were -justified.
Guckenberger filed a lawsuit in early February, claiming that the imminent release of his name in the Herndon shooting could put him at risk. Guckenberger cited threats other officers across the country had received after ¬police-involved shootings and use-of-force incidents.
A federal judge granted ¬Guckenberger a temporary restraining order but later rescinded it after Fairfax County police said they were still working to complete a standard threat assessment to ¬determine whether to release his name.
[Federal judge temporarily blocks release of officer’s name in fatal police shooting]
Last Friday, Fairfax County ¬Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. said that he found no credible threat against Guckenberger and that he would inform the officer that he planned to release his name.
Guckenberger could have ¬pursued another injunction but chose not to, according to court filings.
“I’ve been transparent with the officer throughout the entire process as I am with all officers in the same situation,” Roessler said. “In this particular case, we’ve concluded a very thorough risk assessment process. Obviously, there is no credible threat, so we are abiding by the policy [of releasing his name].”
Last year, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors enacted a policy requiring the county police department to release the names of officers involved in the use of deadly force within 10 days of an incident, except in instances in which there are credible threats to officers’ safety.
The policy was adopted as part of a wave of changes after the fatal shooting of an unarmed Springfield man, John Geer, in 2013. Police did not release ¬officer Adam Torres’s name until a judge ordered the department to do so, 16 months after the shooting. Torres ultimately pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.
Guckenberger’s attorneys thanked the police department for the thorough threat assessment, which was conducted with the assistance of the FBI.
“Police officers who do their job and saves lives under these types of extraordinary circumstances should be afforded ¬appropriate protections and support that are no less than ¬members of the community, especially where all the facts have not been made public due to ongoing investigations,” said Amy -Conway-Hatcher, an attorney for Guckenberger.
The issue of naming officers involved in use-of-force incidents has become a flash point across the country after national protests over fatal encounters between police and minorities.
Reformers say naming officers is critical for transparency, but officers and their unions have said that it can put police in harm’s way.
The criminal and administrative probes are still underway for the fatal shooting involving Guckenberger.
By Times Staff
On Feb. 28, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors appointed nine Fairfax County residents to serve on the newly established Police Civilian Review Panel. The creation of a Civilian Review Panel was recommended by the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission in their October 2015 final report to the Board of Supervisors.
“The Police Civilian Review Panel will promote further transparency and openness in community policing,” Chairman Sharon Bulova said. “Each appointed member will bring a valuable perspective, extensive knowledge and years of community involvement to the table. Together with their impressive skillsets, this group of individuals will set the bar high for how the Civilian Review Panel will operate. I am very proud of our Fairfax County Police Department. This Panel will contribute toward making us a model of excellence for the nation.”
The Civilian Review Panel will act as an independent avenue or “portal” for residents to submit complaints concerning allegations of abuse of authority or misconduct by a Fairfax County Police (FCPD) Officer. The Panel will also have the authority to request and review completed Police Department internal administrative investigations regarding a civilian complaint against an officer. The Panel may hold public meetings to review police administrative investigations and walk through with members of the community how the investigation was conducted, including findings of fact, evidence collected and witness statements. Examples of complaints and cases for the Civilian Review Panel to receive and review may include:
• The use of abusive, racial, ethnic or sexual language;
• Harassment or discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, age, familial status, or disability;
• The reckless endangerment of a detainee or person in custody;
• Serious violations of Fairfax County or FCPD procedures
The Civilian Review Panel will not address potentially criminal use of force or police-involved shootings. Cases of that magnitude would likely involve an investigation by the Commonwealth’s Attorney and would be monitored by the newly hired Police Auditor, Richard G. Schott.
The Board of Supervisors has appointed Adrian Steel to serve as the first chairman of the Civilian Review Panel. All subsequent chairmen will be selected by members of the Civilian Review Panel in a manner that will be determined by the Panel’s bylaws. Panel members will serve three year terms with a two term limit, although some inaugural members will serve for less time to allow for staggered terms.
The first orders of business for the Civilian Review Panel include writing bylaws detailing how the Panel will function, and training Panel members on current police practices and policies in Fairfax County. Once those items are complete, which may take a number of months, the Civilian Review Panel will begin their work of requesting and reviewing cases.
See below for the names and short bios of the Police Civilian Review Panel Members (in alphabetical order):
• Hansel Aguilar, Fairfax
Mr. Aguilar, originally from Honduras, investigates allegations of police misconduct at the D.C. Office of Police Complaints. Mr. Aguilar is a former police officer for the George Mason University Police Department and previously worked as a case manager and internal investigator for Youth for Tomorrow. He has served with the Vinson Hall Retirement Community in McLean and with the Fairfax County Office for Women & Domestic and Sexual Violence Services. Mr. Aguilar is bilingual in Spanish and English and believes that oversight is an important tenet of maintaining justice and equality in a democratic society.
• Kathleen Davis-Siudut, Springfield
Ms. Davis-Siudut has spent the past 15 years providing training as well policy development and implementation in the areas of sexual violence, human trafficking, and cultural diversity. Ms. Davis-Siudut is of Korean descent and has previously worked for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Polaris Project, and the US Marine Corps. She currently works with the Air Force as a sexual assault prevention and response subject matter expert.
• Steve Descano, Springfield
During his six years as a federal prosecutor, Mr. Descano led numerous investigations conducted by FBI, IRS and USPIS agents. While at the Department of Justice, he analyzed documentary evidence, interviewed witnesses, and reviewed the investigatory work of agents and other prosecutors. Mr. Descano currently works as Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel for Paragon Autism Services and serves on the Criminal Justice Committee of the Fairfax County NAACP. Mr. Descano also serves on the Fairfax County Trails and Sidewalks Committee, is a graduate of West Point, and was nominated by the Fairfax County NAACP to serve on the Civilian Review Panel.
• Hollye Doane, Oakton
A Fairfax County resident for more than 30 years, Ms. Doane spent most of her career as an attorney in Washington D.C. representing an array of clients, including the National Down Syndrome Society and Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation. Ms. Doane has been an advocate for the disability community for more than 20 years and understands the importance of building positive relationships between law enforcement officers and people with disabilities. Her experience as a journalist prior to attending law school gave her an appreciation for clear, timely and transparent communication between government officials and the community. After her retirement, Ms. Doane trained as a mediator and facilitator and currently serves as a lay pastoral minister in her church.
• Douglas Kay, Fairfax
Mr. Kay is a trial lawyer who has handled civil litigation, criminal defense and personal injury cases for over 20 years. He currently focuses his practice on commercial litigation matters. As a criminal defense attorney, he has represented individuals charged with everything from simple traffic matters to the most serious felony offenses in state and federal courts. Mr. Kay previously served as a judge advocate in the U.S. Navy and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Fairfax County. A lifelong Fairfax County resident, Mr. Kay attended Fairfax County Public Schools, coaches his son’s youth basketball team, and served on Fairfax County’s Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission. Mr. Kay was nominated to serve on the Civilian Review Panel by the South Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and the Fairfax Bar Association.
• Randy Sayles, Oak Hill
Mr. Sayles has over 35 years of law enforcement and criminal investigations experience. He worked as a Federal Agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and served as a police officer for the Denver, Colorado Police Department. Mr. Sayles enjoys giving back to the community by volunteering for the Clean Fairfax Council and Creekside Homeowners Association, and was the recipient of a Fairfax County 2016 Environmental Excellence Award for removing 800 bags of trash and over 1200 illegal signs along nine miles of Centreville Road. Mr. Sayles served as a member of Fairfax County’s Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission and has continued to work with the Board of Supervisors and Fairfax County Police to implement the Commission’s recommendations.
• Jean Senseman, Lorton
Ms. Senseman is a licensed clinical social worker who has spent many years working with clients who experience mental illness, PTSD and substance use disorders. Ms. Senseman has worked in private practice providing treatment and therapy for individuals young and old who experience a wide variety of mental health disorders. Ms. Senseman taught at George Washington University Medical School and volunteers for her Condo Association Finance Committee. Previously, Ms. Senseman worked at the Woodburn Community Mental Health Center and at the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter helping residents of all socio-economic backgrounds receive mental health treatment.
• Adrian L. Steel, Jr., McLean (Chairman)
Mr. Steel served on Fairfax County’s Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission and has continued to work with the Board of Supervisors to implement the Commission’s recommendations. Mr. Steel has been appointed by the Board of Supervisors to serve as the first chairman of the Police Civilian Review Panel. Mr. Steel has demonstrated extensive knowledge and a strong commitment regarding 21st Century police policies and best practices, including civilian oversight. Mr. Steel currently works as a senior counsel at Mayer Brown LLP where he has practiced law for over 35 years, and previously served as Special Assistant to FBI Director, William H. Webster.
• Rhonda VanLowe, Reston
Ms. VanLowe was appointed to the Governor’s Taskforce for Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response and served on the Public Safety workgroup. She has devoted much of her community service work to serving those with unique physical, mental, emotional, intellectual or cognitive backgrounds. Ms. VanLowe practiced law in law firm and corporate settings, served as Board Chair of The Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program, Inc., and received the National Women of Color Special Recognition Award at the 2008 STEM Conference. Ms. VanLowe is a 36-year resident of Fairfax County and looks forward to working together with members of the Panel to develop procedures that will set the foundational tone and tenor for the work of the Panel.
By Dick UlianoFebruary 27, 2017 4:35 am
WASHINGTON — Last month Fairfax County police fatally shot a man outside his Herndon, Virginia, home. Police say the man shot and wounded his two brothers, held a hostage and set the house on fire. The officer involved in the Jan. 16 fatal shooting, who is on paid administrative leave, has been battling in court to keep his name from being made public.
The veteran officer won a judge’s order to keep his name from being released, arguing that to do so would endanger him and his family. But Fairfax County Police Chief Ed Roessler announced late last week that no credible threat has been found to the officer.
Roessler is expected to meet with the officer early this week and the chief must provide the court the results of the threat assessment.
Because of controversy surrounding past police shootings in Fairfax, it’s become county policy to release names of officers involved in fatal shootings within 10 days, unless it poses a threat to the officer’s safety.
The officer’s lawyers could further petition to the federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia to keep his name from being made public.
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Fairfax County Police Officer put on restricted duty following crash
Officer hit van while driving above the speed with his emergency lights off
FALLS CHURCH, Va. - A police officer in Fairfax County was put on restricted duty Wednesday following a crash in Falls Church involving another driver.
The officer was driving westbound on Leesburg Pike, approaching Patrick Henry Drive, when he collided with a van that was traveling eastbound on Leesburg Pike and tried to make a left turn onto Patrick Henry Drive, in front of the marked cruiser.
An investigation revealed that the officer was driving above the speed limit without his emergency lights activated at the time of the crash.
The officer is currently on restricted duty pending the outcome of two parallel investigations -- one administrative and one criminal.
The victim of the crash was transported to a local hospital, where he remains.
Exposure of the Day Australian Woman Flashes Google Street View Car
The cops are not required to give this poor dupe the time of day. Remember, the issue here is not following the rules, the issue is a corrupt cop culture that does what it damn well wants when it damn well want too.
Fairfax County Names First Independent Police Auditor
Richard G. Schott, a 27-year veteran of the FBI, was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to be Fairfax County’s first-ever independent police auditor. Photo courtesy of Fairfax County
By Tim Peterson
Monday, February 20, 2017
Richard G. Schott, a 27-year veteran of the FBI, was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to be Fairfax County’s first-ever independent police auditor.
The announcement of Schott’s hiring came at the board’s Feb. 14 meeting. As auditor, Schott will report directly to the board and have numerous oversight responsibilities. Among them, Fairfax County said:
Monitoring and reviewing internal investigations of Police Department officer-involved shootings, in-custody deaths and use-of-force cases in which an individual is killed or seriously injured.
Requesting further investigations if he determines that an internal investigation was deficient or conclusions were not supported by the evidence.
Issuing public reports for each reviewed internal investigation.
Reviewing all resident complaint investigations of alleged excessive or unnecessary force by officers.
Producing annual reports that analyze trends and recommend improvements.
Schott will start full-time, paid work April 17 this year — salary is set at $143,000 — joined by two assistants.
Creation of an independent auditor was a recommendation by the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission for increased oversight of Fairfax County Police.
Another was creation of a civilian review panel. The supervisors approved that body as well, set to be a nine-member group of volunteers who will review complaints of police misconduct or abuse of power.
During closed session Feb. 14, the board was scheduled to review applications and nominees for those positions. However no announcement was made following the closed-door meeting.
Board of Supervisors chairman Sharon Bulova said she was pleased to welcome Schott as the first auditor.
“In this newly established position, Mr. Schott will provide increased accountability and transparency to the Fairfax County Police Department,” Bulova said in a statement.
According to Fairfax County, Schott’s FBI career includes working as a special agent with local law enforcement and training state and local officers, “including legal issues associated with police officers’ use of force and deadly force.”
He also serves as an FBI Academy instructor at Quantico, the county said, teaching new agents about basic constitutional criminal procedure and legal consequences when they employ force.
A Fairfax County Police car was involved in a crash in Falls Church on Saturday that left one person in the hospital.
The accident took place on Feb. 18 in the area of Route 7 and Patrick Henry Drive and involved another car, Fairfax County Police said in a tweet.
Police said the driver of the car was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and the officer was not seriously injured.
“The problem lies in what happens after this bad behavior and the problem is that citizens hear no apology, no asking for forgiveness, or pledge from police leaders that this won't happen again because we will fix it and improve. The silence is what's causing the tension and mistrust.”
The name of the Fairfax County cop who shot a man outside his home last month is still unknown.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis of the Eastern District of Virginia, postponed a hearing on releasing the officer’s name, delaying the announcement even further. The judge’s decision came after new evidence was presented in court Wednesday.
The evidence “must be carefully examined and investigated before the chief can ascertain whether there’s a credible threat to the officers safety,” court document said.
In 2016, the Fairfax County Police Department changed its policy on naming officer-involved shootings, vowing to release the name of officers involved in deadly shootings no later than 10 days after the fact.
It has been three weeks since the shooting.
Man files lawsuit against Fairfax Co. officer, county, for use of stun gun against him
FOX 5's Alexandra Limon reports.
FEB 10 2017 08:
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - In September 2015, an incident was captured on cellphone video that showed a police officer using a Taser on a man in Fairfax County. The man, who suffers from cerebral palsy, is suing for excessive force in this case.
It all started at a SunTrust Bank in the Rose Hill area of Franconia in Fairfax County. Elton Cansler took a pair of sunglasses from inside the bank and then took off. Police were then called. On the cellphone video, a responding officer uses his Taser on the man.
“His actions there – we are saying is excessive force,” said Cansler’s attorney, Maxwelle Sokol. “He has his hands up, the hands go on the hood of the car, he gets tased.”
Man files lawsuit against Fairfax Co. officer, county, for use of stun gun against him
The original lawsuit was filed this past December. In January, the police chief filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. This week, Cansler's attorneys have responded.
“On February 8th, we filed in opposition to that motion claiming that we in fact did allege enough facts to proceed,” Sokol said.
Cansler is suing Alan Hanks, the officer involved in the incident, as well as Fairfax County’s police chief and the county.
“They rubberstamped this and said this is totally compliant with our policies,” said Sokol. “So that is the basis for the county's liability – their after-the-fact ratification and endorsement of his actions.”
Officer Hanks was cleared of any wrongdoing days after the incident by the police department. The department released a detailed breakdown of the incident and it said in part that Cansler put his hands in his pockets and he had a knife. It also said he refused commands to put his hands behind his back and resisted arrest.
One of the witnesses who took the cell phone video said at the time after the 2015 incident, “The gentleman just happened to be walking down the sidewalk and the cop pulls up in front of him, tells him to turn over, and as soon as he has his back turned towards him, he tases him. He didn’t see it coming.”
Both sides are still waiting for a ruling on whether the lawsuit against the police department and the county can move forward. It may all be decided at a hearing scheduled in March. The lawsuit against the officer will likely continue because he has not filed a motion to dismiss it.
After policy set, Fairfax Co. police to test body-worn cameras
By Dick Uliano
FAIRFAX, Va. — Fairfax County police are expected to begin testing body-worn cameras later this year, after the police department completes — and the Board of Supervisors approves — a set of guidelines governing the use of the cameras.
Policy must still be nailed down on issues including how best to protect privacy; when cameras are to be turned on and off; when it’s appropriate to redact video and how long video should be retained.
“The goal is to start the pilot project as soon as possible. Whether that is July or sometime after Labor Day will depend on the work ahead,” said Chief Edwin Roessler with Fairfax County police.
The Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee has set a mid-June deadline for final submission of body-worn camera policy. Once the policy is in place, police will conduct a pilot program with the cameras for 90 days or more.
“My intent is to have two vendors for the pilot project and test and evaluate at two different police district stations,” Roessler said, indicating that two different brands of body-worn cameras will be tested.
While Fairfax County began discussing body-worn cameras in 2014, the program has lagged behind others in the area.
All D.C. police officers are equipped with the cameras, about 900 are in use in Montgomery County and Arlington has a pilot program underway involving 25 officers and sheriff’s deputies. Prince George’s County police say they are implementing the first phase of their program during the first three months of this year.
“I don’t think it’s taking too long. I think the Board and staff are committed to this, and I think we’re doing it right,” said Fairfax County Executive Ed Long.
Fairfax has set aside about $1.9 million to evaluate and then launch its police body-worn camera program.
Fire Police Chief Ed Roessler
Fairfax County Police Still Won't Release Officer's Name in Herndon Shooting
Police Chief Ed Roessler declined to articulate the reason for not releasing the officer's name within 10 days.
By Dan Taylor (Patch Staff) - January 26, 2017 5:17 pm ET
HERNDON, VA — The Fairfax County Police Department has decided not to release the name of the police officer who fatally shot a man in a barricade/hostage situation in Reston earlier this month -- at least not yet.
While county policy is to release the name of an officer involved in a fatal shooting within 10 days unless the department can articulate risk to that officer, there are "several factors" at play that are causing police to withhold the officer's name for the time being, Roessler said in a statement Thursday.
"Because of the complexity of the investigation, I’m not in a position at this point to say whether a risk exists or not, therefore, it isn’t prudent to release the officer’s name at this time," he said.
Roessler added that he expects an update on the assessment in the "near future." The involved officer remains on administrative leave until the investigation is complete.
Fairfax County Police identified 32-year-old Mohammad Azim Doudzai as the suspect in a double-shooting and barricade in Herndon on Jan. 16 that ended in his death.
Police were called to a house in the 13300 block of Covered Wagon Lane at around 2:40 p.m. on that date to a report of two men who had been shot. Once on the scene, they found that a man was inside armed with a gun, and set up a perimeter to isolate the area, according to a report from the Fairfax County Police Department. Police tweeted Tuesday morning that Doudzai was a suspect, but noted that he was not yet confirmed as the shooter.
"Preliminarily, our investigation reveals the suspect fired several shots and started a fire, both inside the home," the report states. "Officers set up a perimeter, isolated the area and began evacuating neighbors. Members of the Crisis Negotiations Team and SWAT were called to assist. They made several attempts to negotiate with the suspect and have him voluntarily surrender."
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During the ordeal, officers learned another man was trapped inside and couldn't escape.
"As smoke inundated the house and billowed out the windows, officers heard repeated gunshots," the report continues. "Officers also observed the suspect holding and moving around with at least one knife. Out of concern for the hostage and the suspect, officers made the decision to approach the home."
When they approached the front door, the suspect stepped outside armed with a knife and then lunged at officers, prompting them to open fire. Officers immediately started rendering aid to the man after shooting him, but he was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital.
Both shooting victims are expected to survive, and the hostage was quickly rescued from the home. No one else was injured during the incident.
Detectives will "continue their investigation to piece together a chronological sequence of events and determine the exact relationship between the victims and the suspect," the report notes. Police ask that anyone with information call 703-691-2131.
Two brothers called 911 around 2:40 p.m. Monday to report that a suspect shot them with a handgun after they were in a fight in a town house in Herndon.
The brothers escaped and drove themselves to the hospital for treatment, and the suspect took a hostage in the house.
Police responded to the scene and while they attempted to negotiate, the suspect set fire to the town house and continued to shoot a handgun.
The blaze grew to a two-alarm fire and the hostage called police and said he couldn’t breathe.
Repeated attempts to coax the suspect from the house were unsuccessful, and the suspect eventually left the house with a knife in his hand.
After attempts to disarm the suspect with a Taser and rubber bullets, an officer shot the suspect dead.
They tasered him and shot him with rubber bullets, had him surrounded and decided the best way to end was to shoot this apparently insane man to death?
Don’t wait it out. Shoot him to death and once again we don’t get to know the cops name who shot the guy.
Something about this isn’t kosher.
Body cameras, mental health part of public safety focus
By Tim Peterson
Fairfax County — This year will see two historic firsts for Fairfax County, its police department and citizens: the beginning work of an Office of Police Auditor and Civilian Review Panel. The auditor will review police use of force cases and internal investigations of those incidents, while the panel will review other citizen complaints of police misconduct and abuse of power.
Both bodies were recommendations from the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission, a panel created by Board of Supervisors chairman Sharon Bulova largely in response to public frustration and anger over the lack of transparency and accountability after the 2013 shooting of unarmed Springfield man John Geer in the doorway of his home by then-Fairfax County Police officer Adam Torres.
A committee appointed by Bulova is reviewing six candidates who topped the applicants list.
For the civilian review panel, invitations to nominate members have been sent to dozens of community groups, including minority organizations, disability services, interfaith groups and others that were part of the Election Process Improvement Commission. Each supervisor may also make nominations. Public Safety Committee chair supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock) said the full board will review all the nominations in closed session Feb. 14.
Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) fully supported the auditor position but has been critical of the need for a civilian review panel -- he was the only supervisor to vote against its creation.
Looking ahead at 2017 though, Herrity said “my expectation and hope for both is they’re going to confirm our police department is doing a very good job.”
Randy Sayles of Oak Hill was a member of the Use of Force subcommittee of the Ad Hoc Commission. Sayles spent more than 35 years in law enforcement with the Denver Police Department and Drug Enforcement Administration. He said he is very optimistic both the auditor’s office and civilian review panel will be beneficial to the supervisors, police and citizens.
Sayles said from what he’s seen, “There’s a sense there can be be real improvement and transparency, not just lip service.”
In choosing the members of the panel, Sayles said it’s crucial the supervisors go with people who won’t allow bias to corrupt the review process.
“It’s very important people picked deal with facts, demand facts and make decisions based on facts,” Sayles said, “and communicate those in a way that’s not divisive.
“Try to get a diversity of people,” Sayles said. “But ultimately, pick people who are willing to be fair, no matter what. It can be a difficult thing to do.”
ANOTHER SIGNIFICANT AND CONTENTIOUS RECOMMENDATION from the Ad Hoc commission is the implementation of police officer-worn body cameras. Herrity said the supervisors are set to approve a new pilot program this month.
“They are absolutely important,” Herrity said. “This is something our police department supports, our citizens support. We should go ahead and get it done now.”
Herrity said the estimated cost for getting body cameras up and running on police in Fairfax County is $30 million. The pilot, he said, will last for several months. He’s asked that it include two different vendors and be done at stations in two magisterial districts.
SUPERVISOR COOK said another public safety priority is taking next steps with the Diversion First program, which is set up to prevent people with mental illness or developmental disabilities from going to jail for nonviolent offenses.
Coordinating more with the court system is an important issue, Cook said.
“We really need a sea change in how we think about mental illness,” said Cook, “to recognize it serves a public safety purpose as well to get people treatment. If you just throw them in jail, 80 percent of the time, something else happens, they’re going back in.”
The next meeting of the board’s Public Safety Committee is scheduled for Jan. 31 at 3 p.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax.