Fairfax commission created in wake of Geer police shooting meets

WASHINGTON — The story of John Geer and his still-unresolved death at the hands of a Fairfax County police officer is now playing out in a new commission meeting for the first time Monday night.

The  commission, which will include Fairfax County citizens, law enforcement, media and legal experts, will examine police policies and protocol in the wake of police-related shootings, and is expected to make recommendations, particularly on timely, open information-sharing with the public.   The county board of supervisors created the 25-member panel earlier this month.

The ad-hoc advisory commission was created after the public outcry over his death, which occurred on his Springfield doorstep on August 20, 2013. Police had come to the home of the 46-year-old father, based on a domestic disturbance call. According to reports, Geer had guns in the home but  was unarmed at the time of the shooting. His family has been demanding answers, but it took a wrongful death suit for the county  police to release some 11,000 pages of the incident report  in January — 17 months after the shooting.   Both the community and the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney have felt stonewalled by the police.

New information included in those pages reveal that the two officers involved in the standoff with Geer had differing stories over what happened.  The officer who shot him, Officer Adam Torres, said he thought Geer was reaching for a weapon.  The other officer on the scene, Rodney Barnes, said he did not see Geer reaching for anything just before the shooting. Barnes’ story jibes with other eyewitness accounts.

Fairfax County is still investigating the shooting, and the U.S. Attorney’s office is considering whether to file civil rights charges against  Torres.

The advisory commission meets Monday night at 7:30 at the Fairfax County Government Center in rooms 9 and 10 and the meeting is open to the public.  The commission has three other dates tentatively scheduled: Monday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m.;  Monday, May 18, 7:30 p.m.; and Monday, June 22 at 7:30 p.m. all will be held at the county government center located at 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA, 22035.

The commission should be submitting a report to the county board of supervisors by October 1.


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