Clarification to This Article
This article about Najib Gerdak, who was injured in a shooting rampage by Jeffrey S. Koger outside a Fairfax County police station in 2008 and is trying to collect damages from the county, said that Gerdak fired his attorneys in February but that by then "the deadline for filing the case [against Fairfax] had passed." One of those lawyers, Harvey Volzer, said he did not miss the deadline for filing. Rather, he never intended to file suit against Fairfax. Gerdak subsequently hired another lawyer, who has sued the county.

Shooting victim's lawsuit faces legal hurdles in Fairfax, Va.

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 16, 2010

At 3 in the morning, Najib Gerdak tried not once but twice to get help for people he didn't know. He was rewarded by being shot five times in front of a Fairfax County police station and then waiting more than half an hour for an ambulance.

Gerdak, now 28, survived. The man who shot him, Jeffrey S. Koger, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 71 years behind bars. But Gerdak's attempt to recover any money for his pain and injuries, either from Koger or Fairfax County authorities, may come up empty unless his attorney can convince a Fairfax judge Friday that the police and fire departments should be held partly responsible for what happened that night in 2008.

Gerdak alleges that the police failed to help him and that paramedics took much too long to arrive. The county contends that government employees have immunity from most legal actions and that Gerdak waited beyond the two-year statute of limitations to sue the county.

Koger, 41, a convicted embezzler, is imprisoned and under federal court order to pay $2 million in restitution and back taxes. He has few assets.

Gerdak was one of several victims of Koger's bizarre shooting rampage Feb. 2, 2008, which began when Koger shot a cabdriver in Alexandria, continued with the shooting of Gerdak and another man in front of the Franconia district police station, and ended when Koger was wounded in the stomach during a shootout with police.

Gerdak was at the Franconia station because he was trying to help a drunk driver, whom he didn't know. Koger pulled into the station's front parking lot in his sport-utility vehicle, chasing another cabdriver. Gerdak said he went into the station to let police know about the chaos out front.

Gerdak alleges that the employee working the front desk, who was not a police officer, had her feet up and was asleep. "She fell asleep watching TV," Gerdak said. He said he knocked on the window until she woke up and told her, "There's two crazy people chasing each other out front, a cab and an SUV."

Gerdak's attorney, Katherine Martell, has noted that a lookout had been broadcast after the earlier shooting of the cabdriver in Alexandria, in which the suspect fled in an SUV. And now another cab was being chased by an SUV.

"She tells me," Gerdak said, " 'You need to go back outside and tell the cabdriver to call his own dispatcher.' "

Fairfax police will not discuss the case because it is in litigation. Sources familiar with the case dispute Gerdak's account, but they would not speak on the record.

Gerdak said he walked back to the parking lot and was standing next to the drunk driver when the SUV pulled in again with Koger behind the wheel. "I feel safe -- I'm in front of a police station," Gerdak said. "What could happen?"

Koger fired a hail of shots, wounding Gerdak four times and the drunk driver once. A sixth shot struck the cross around Gerdak's neck, in front of his heart, and ricocheted.

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