After a year of waiting for justice, the family of 46-year-old father of two, John Geer, has filed a law suit against the Fairfax Police Department. The suit filed this past Tuesday by Geer’s longtime partner, Maura Harrington, alleges the Fairfax County Police Department chief and three other officers are responsible for the wrongful death of the father of her children. Citing wrongful death and gross negligence, the suit seeks $12 million for harms and losses suffered by the family, including mental anguish and funeral expenses. That amount includes a request for punitive damages against the officers.
Federal investigators and the Fairfax County Police Department have so far declined to comment on the suit, citing pending litigation. The Washington Post reports that Police Chief Edwin c. Roessler Jr. has so far refused to identify the three officers named in the suit, and who were on the call when Geer was gunned down. The officer who shot Geer has reportedly been on paid leave for months pending the county and federal prosecutors’ investigation into the shooting.
Geer was shot in the chest more on Aug. 29, 2013. He was in his home, which police were called to by Harrington when she phoned 911 during an argument. The couple was arguing after Harrington said she was leaving Geer. When the 911 dispatcher asked her if Geer was armed, Harrington told the dispatcher that they had hunting rifles locked in a safe. After arriving at the couple’s Fairfax home, Police talked with Geer for about forty minutes as his hands rested above his head on the door jamb. It was when Geer slowly lowered one of his arms that police opened fire, according to media reports. His family was waiting in a nearby home during the incident and though Harrington repeatedly begged officers to go in and help Geer, they waited more than an hour before entering the home with a battering ram. By that time, according to the autopsy report, the weaponless Geer had bled to death from the gunshot wound just inside the front door.
Harrington, who was Geer’s partner for 24 years, has filed the suit on behalf of herself and her two teenage daughters. Geer’s father told the Washington Post that the family has been through “hell” and added that the ordeal has been “frustrating to say the least – not knowing anything and having a feeling of helplessness, sadness, anger. Just wondering what’s going on and nobody would tell us anything.”
According to media reports, Harrington waited for a year to file the suit because she had faith that authorities would do the right thing and take responsibility for her negligence. Sadly she, her children, and the rest of Geer’s family and friends have found quite the opposite. Filing the suit won’t bring Geer back, but it should make officers think twice about resorting to deadly violence. It certainly puts the Fairfax Police Department notice as to its policies and procedures regarding domestic violence investigations and so-called standoff situations. As a full-service personal injury and criminal defense firm, we hope that Harrington and Geer’s family is successful in their pursuit of civil justice, and that this can help them obtain some sense of peace.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law