No officers charged in fatal shooting of man experiencing mental health crisis in Fairfax County

A northern Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office announced that no officers are being charged in the fatal 2022 shooting of a man experiencing a mental health crisis in Fairfax County.

Just before 7 p.m. on July 7, 2022, Fairfax County police responded to a home in the 6900 block of Arbor Lane in McLean where callers had reported that a man was having a mental health episode. FCPD officers were dispatched and the department categorized the call as an "emotionally disturbed person."

"We have a family member here who was having a bit of a psychotic break," a caller is heard saying in video released in August 2022. "He's here now. He's throwing some stuff right now, so if we can get a dispatch that would be really helpful."

The caller reported that 26-year-old Jasper Aaron Lynch, who had a history of disassociation and mental illness, was breaking things in the home, pacing and showing signs of anxiety. The caller noted that Lynch was not acting violent toward anyone but said they were concerned about his safety.  

According to Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis, officers responded with a crisis intervention team along with a clinician but were initially unable to find Lynch. 

After another 911 call was made around 8:45 p.m., officers were able to find him inside the home where both the calls came from. 

According to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, shortly after officers found Lynch, they tried to communicate with him verbally but he attacked them.

Body cam footage from the incident shows Lynch holding a wine bottle in one hand and a tribal mask in the other. Officers can be heard repeatedly telling Lynch to put the objects down but he disregards the demands, throws the mask at the officers and then runs after them swinging a bottle. 

Two of the officers, identified as Pak and Kirsch, deployed tasers trying to subdue Lynch but they did not work.

RELATED: Family criticizes Fairfax Co. police for fatally shooting man suffering from mental health crisis

After that, a further struggle ensued and a third officer subsequently fired their weapon — hitting Lynch four times. 

While no officers were injured during the shooting, Lynch was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The officer who shot Lynch was identified as First Class Edward George and was placed on administrative status. An investigation into the incident was initiated immediately following the shooting. 

In his written opinion released Friday, Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said "My review of this incident leads me to conclude that none of the three officers, all of whom used some level of force, violated any criminal laws. I therefore decline to bring criminal charges against Officers Pat, Kirsch, or George." 

Pat, Kathy and Jasper Lynch

Lynch’s parents, Pat and Kathy, also released a statement in response to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s announcement. 

"We are saddened and devastated by the Commonwealth Attorney’s decision not to press charges against Officer George, the police officer who shot and killed our son, Aaron Lynch, on July 7, 2022. We have carefully reviewed the footage from the body cameras and believe the Commonwealth Attorney's description of important parts of how this tragedy unfolded is incorrect. We cannot fathom how Aaron’s shooting could in any way be viewed as anything but unjustified and an excessive use of force. Aaron was on the ground after being tackled by another officer and was completely unarmed when Officer George fired the lethal final bullet in Aaron’s neck. This came after Officer George had fired at Aaron four times. Why was it necessary to shoot again?

The long period of time the Commonwealth Attorney took to make this decision has only increased the pain and uncertainty for our family. We are deeply disappointed and mystified as to why it took more than 18 months. The facts all point in the other direction of this report’s findings. Our son was experiencing a severe mental health crisis that day. He was scared and had asked for us to call 911. We believe that the three police officers who answered the call could have handled this far differently. To respond to Aaron’s mental health crisis by shooting him at all, let alone five times, cannot be justified. How could our son, who was about 5’ 6", slightly built, holding a bottle and a decorative mask be of a serious threat to three officers?

This is an injustice that no family should have to endure. We will continue to press for accountability from the FCPD and Fairfax County, both for Aaron and our family and in the hope that this will help prevent such tragic outcomes for other families in the future."