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A federal judge granted ¬Guckenberger a temporary restraining order but later rescinded it after Fairfax County police said they were still working to complete a standard threat assessment to ¬determine whether to release his name.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.