FAIRFAX, Va. — Some Fairfax County citizens feel the public is being stonewalled in the 2013 case of a Springfield man who was shot and killed by a county police officer. They also feel the officer is being shielded from possible prosecution.
At an annual town hall meeting at Mt. Vernon High School on Saturday, County Supervisor Gerry Hyland and Fairfax County Board Chair Sharon Bulova got an earful over the lack of transparency and progress in the investigation of an August 2013 police shooting that killed Springfield resident John Geer.
“I feel like Ferguson, Ohio and New York are getting a way better shake at justice than we are,” says Fairfax resident Keith Harmon, referring to the shooting death of Mike Brown and choking death of Eric Garner. He’s upset that no information on the case had been made public until a document dump — 11,000 pages — which came a year and a half after the shooting.
“The Fairfax board needs to change the policy of obstruction to one of transparency,” Harmon says. “Fairfax County officers deserve the benefit of the doubt, but that does not mean they can never be doubted.”
He says the Board of Supervisors needs to change its policy since it dictates what police can and cannot say surrounding a case. And he says the board should seriously look at the idea of creating an independent police accountability review board. It’s an idea that had been floated in the past but never became a reality.
Hyland says it’s not acceptable to him or the board that it’s taken so long to get the information out on the case. “So that forces us to look at that process in terms of our polices and I guess that we would be changing them. We cannot wait as long as it’s taken in this case.”
Chairman Bulova agreed that changes need to be made.
In the meantime, a wrongful death civil suit is being filed. Also the Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney had turned the case over to the U.S. Attorney in Alexandria.