- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Va. (AP) - The longtime partner of a Virginia man who witnesses say was unarmed when he was fatally shot by Fairfax County police is suing the department for $12 million.

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court, the partner of John Geer, 46, of Springfield, accuses the Fairfax County Police Department, its police chief and three unnamed officers of wrongful death and gross negligence.

Fairfax police and federal investigators have declined to discuss the case or whether they think the shooting was justified, saying it’s under investigation. Police officials say the officer who fired the fatal shot has been on paid desk duty for months.

Geer’s partner of 24 years, Maura Harrington, told The Washington Post (https://wapo.st/1qxfqc5 ) that she’s suing to get answers for herself and for her and Geer’s two daughters, ages 14 and 18.

Geer’s father, Don Geer, said the family is fed up after a year of waiting.

“It’s been hell,” he said. “Frustrating to say the least - not knowing anything and having a feeling of helplessness, sadness, anger. Just wondering what’s going on and why nobody would tell us anything.”

A Fairfax police officer shot Geer in the chest in his home on Aug. 29, 2013, after Harrington called 911 during an argument.

An autopsy shows Geer bled to death before police entered the home and as his family waited in nearby houses.

Fairfax Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. said he spoke to the officer and Geer’s father last week, just before the one-year anniversary of the shooting, “letting them know I’m thinking about both of them.”

Roessler declined to release the officer’s name until a criminal investigation is finished and said he doesn’t know why county and federal prosecutors have taken so long.

“The stress that it puts everybody under,” Roessler said, “not knowing when anything will happen, it’s not a good place to be.”

Harrington said that the day of the shooting, she and Geer had been arguing about breaking up and that he had thrown a suitcase down the stairs, prompting her to call the police. She said that after the officer shot Geer in the home, it took an hour for police to go inside using an armored vehicle with a battering ram.

Geer’s body was just inside.


Information from: The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com

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