Fairfax Co. judge orders release of evidence in fatal police shooting

WASHINGTON – A judge has ordered Fairfax County to release documents and evidence related to a fatal police shooting, currently under investigation by the Justice Department.

Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows granted a motion for the county to release the cache of documents Monday. Fairfax County has refused to release basic information about the killing of John Geer, including the name of the officer or officers who shot him.

“(The family) can finally see a little light at the end of the tunnel,” says Michael Lieberman, the Geer family’s attorney. “Soon they’ll know why a loved one was lost.”

Police shot Geer in the chest at his home in August 2013. Witnesses have said that Geer was unarmed. An autopsy found that Geer bled to death.

Geer’s long-time partner Maura Harrington sued the county in September for $12 million in order to get answers for herself and Geer’s two daughters, she said at the time.

The judge ordered the release of the identify of all officers present, as well as their appearance, plus evidence collected at the scene including forensics and photographs, 911 calls, and statements Geer made to officers prior to the shooting.

Bellows allowed the county to redact some information such as home address or phone numbers for the officers and witnesses involved.

Bellows however said that any information collected after Sept. 2, 2014 – when Harrington’s lawsuit was filed – that is related to the internal, personnel investigation does not have to be released. In all, 73 sets of documents or evidence were ordered released. Just 11 could be withheld and no ruling was issued for another four.

Lieberman says that the attorneys for both sides spent several hours arguing in front of Bellows Friday but he did not expect a ruling until January.

“Amazingly, this afternoon, we got this 12-page opinion that really gives us hope that well soon we’ll get to know what really went on.”

He says the documents and evidence will allow the Geer family to build a timeline of events.

“It’s been 16 months of a nightmare for them,” Lieberman says. “On top of that nightmare, you had the fact that everything has been held secret … They really know nothing more today than they knew the day that John was shot.”

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on Facebook.

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