Fairfax Co. board looking into changes after delay of info in Geer shooting case

There is anger and controversy in Fairfax County stemming from the deadly police-involved shooting of John Geer in August of 2013.

For nearly 18 months, people wanted answers about what happened. Last Friday night, the county finally released important details about the investigation.

But that still has not quieted critics of this case.

In response to angry emails, phone calls and public meetings, Fairfax County leaders held a closed session meeting on Tuesday to talk about the Geer case.

Lawmakers convened to talk about litigation in case and the lack of communication with the public since the shooting.

It took a judge's order to release thousands of pages of documents about the shooting – 17 months after the shooting.

"I think it has hurt the public trust," said Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity.

He said what happened in the Geer case can't happen again. The public, especially the victim's family, should not be kept in the dark.

"I have been getting emails for 17 months as to why it has taken us so long to tell what happened," Herrity said. "When you tell what happened, you can include the discrepancies, but you have to tell the public what happened."

Over the weekend, some residents expressed their outrage, not only at the shooting of an unarmed man, but at the police department for keeping a lid on all information.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova said public officials were hesitant to get involved in the case because of possible lawsuits against the county. But she admitted elected officials must also learn the public has a right to know.

"We are sort of in uncharted territory, but our board is resolved to make sure that if, God forbid, something like this happens in the future, that we have policies and procedures in place where we are going to share the information," she said.

And what about questions of a police cover up?

"Our detectives told it like it is," said Herrity. "It is going to be up to a court of law to make the final determination here, and then our police chief and an administrative process, but we need to tell the public what happened."

So what happens now? This meeting lasted about two hours, but no new motions came out of it.

Bulova said she will meet with the Virginia attorney general this week. She is also considering bringing in consultants to advise elected leaders on what they can say if there is a next time as well as talk with other government agencies on how they have dealt with this in the past.

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