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.
By Antonio Olivo
Virginia’s largest jurisdiction is seeking applicants for a new nine-member civilian panel that will review police abuse cases.
Fairfax County approved the creation of the civilian review panel last month, part of ongoing police reforms in the county of 1.1 million residents spurred by controversy over the 2013 fatal shooting of John B. Geer outside his home.
Fairfax officials are also wading through applications for an independent police auditor who will review police department investigations of cases in which use of force caused a death or serious injury.
In a news release Thursday, the office of Sharon Bulova (D), the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said the members of the civilian review panel will be appointed to three-year terms, with one person serving as chairman.
Board appointments to the panel will be based on previous civic involvement, expertise in law enforcement and an applicant’s reputation in his or her community. The board will seek racial and ethnic diversity and will try to appoint members from each of the county’s nine magisterial districts.
The panel will not be open to current county employees, former county law enforcement officers or any of their immediate relatives. Elected officials or political candidates also are excluded from serving on the panel.