Family of man shot, killed by Fairfax Co. police files $20 million wrongful death suit

The family of a man who was shot and killed inside a McLean, Virginia, home in July 2022 has filed a $20 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Fairfax County police chief and three officers, claiming they used excessive force on an unarmed man in the middle of a mental health crisis.

According to the lawsuit filed by the parents and sister of Jasper Aaron Lynch, who went by Aaron, on July 7, 2022, Lynch’s parents asked a family friend to call 911, saying he was alone in the family home and having a mental health crisis.

While waiting for help, Lynch’s mother, Kathy, called a police nonemergency number and said she believed her son’s crisis stemmed from the death of a loved one. According to the suit, filed by attorney Patrick Regan, “She explicitly informed them that he had no history of violence and that there were no weapons in the Lynch home.”

In a footnote, the suit said the 26-year-old was transgender: “Biologically female, for the first twenty years of his life, Aaron went by the name ‘Alayne.'”

A Fairfax County police officer trained in crisis intervention, as well as a mental health clinician, arrived at the home and, with Kathy’s permission, they searched the home but were unable to find Aaron, so they left.

Soon after, Aaron’s sister and her boyfriend arrived at the family home. Within minutes, at Aaron’s request, the sister’s boyfriend called 911 again, asking for mental health assistance, saying Aaron was throwing and breaking objects inside the home.

When police responded for the second time, three officers who were not specifically trained in crisis intervention arrived without a clinician. The suit said the three officers “did not communicate with anyone who had specific mental health training or wait for someone with that background to arrive at the Lynch family home.”

According to the suit, Aaron charged at the officers, holding a wine bottle and a decorative wooden mask. When he threw the wooden mask across the room, officers used a Taser on him. As Aaron tried to run out the open front door, he was shocked again.

As Aaron attempted to run out the door again, an officer shot him four times. As another officer held Aaron down, the officer “executed him by firing a fifth and final shot into his neck at nearly point-blank range.”

Aaron died at the scene.

The suit alleged police were aware that Aaron was under mental duress, yet their actions “showed indifference to Aaron and constituted an utter disregard of caution amounting to a complete neglect of Aaron’s safety.”

The suit claims Fairfax County police Chief Kevin Davis had a duty to train officers regarding the use of deadly force and how to respond to people suffering mental health crises.

This past April, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said the shooting was legally justified because the officer reasonably feared the other officer could have been hit with or cut by the broken bottle.

WTOP is seeking comment from the Fairfax County Police Department. Contacted by WTOP, a county spokesman said, “Fairfax County cannot comment on pending litigation.”

The suit seeks $10 million in compensatory damages, as well as $10 million in punitive damages.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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