I-Team Investigates: Was last year’s deadly officer shooting of Springfield man justified?
SPRINGFIELD, Va. (WJLA) – Nearly one year after a Springfield man was fatally shot by a Fairfax County Police officer, the question remains: was gunfire justified? The case in question is still open and unresolved.
On Aug. 29, 2013, John Geer was shot and killed by an FCPD officer following a 50-minute standoff at his Springfield townhome. The 46-year-old was unarmed.
The ABC 7 I-Team is investigating why so many questions remain unanswered.
Investigators in the case have made nothing public about their investigation, and have not said whether they plan to charge the officer involved in the shooting.
But Brad Garrett, a former FBI hostage negotiator and expert on criminal investigations, says the delay in answers should not lead to conclusions.
“It does seem like a long time, even to me,” Garrett said. “You can't assume because time has gone on that this case leads towards we wanna charge him [or] we don't wanna charge him."
On the night in question, Geer had been fighting with his common-law wife, who called 911. He admitted to police he had been drinking and had a gun in the house, but not on him. Witnesses report that at one point, while standing in the doorway, Geer slowly lowered his hands before a gunshot was fired.
“Does it really fit the parameters of a justifiable shooting?” Garret said. “At this point, we don’t know.”
In February, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh turned the case over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, citing a conflict of interest.
Garrett says prosecutors may still not have all the evidence they need to make a decision. Prosecutors are likely interviewing witnesses and law enforcement, looking at the history of Geer and the officer in question, and reviewing the circumstances—all to get it right.
“Really, the last thing you wanna do in a case like this, particularly involving police officers, is to charge them, but you don’t have the back-up to potentially convict them,” Garrett said.
Jeff Stewart, Geer’s close friend, spoke with ABC 7 in February, expressing frustration felt by family and friends over the waiting.
“At this point, we’re looking for answers,” Stewart said. “We don’t know, because we haven’t been told anything.”
The frustration is also shared among Geer’s neighbors, like Chris Mizera.
“Something like that happens in your neighborhood, you want answers, you wanna know exactly what happened,” Mizera said. “And that hasn’t been answered yet.”