The Fairfax County Police Department on Monday sent a six-page letter to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) responding to the lawmaker’s five detailed questions about the August 2013 police killing of unarmed John Geer in Springfield. Below is the letter. Below that is the police department’s general order on guidelines for the release of public information. [UPDATE, 5 p.m., Dec. 2: The Justice Department has now responded to a September letter from the Fairfax Board of Supervisors asking for an update. The letter, also below, provides no new information and “cannot advise you when it [the investigation] will be concluded.”]
Fairfax County hired lawyer Mark Bierbower to help them respond to Grassley’s letter, and there is almost no new information in the response, other than to point out that Geer had seven “long guns” in his house, location undisclosed, and this may have caused the police to wait an hour to render aid to Geer after an officer shot him once in the chest at close range.
The letter signed by police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. says he is declining to answer many of Grassley’s questions because it “could potentially interfere with or jeopardize the integrity of an ongoing criminal investigation.” In response to Grassley’s questions about police policies, Roessler writes on four separate occasions that the department’s “Standard Operating Procedures are not published on our public website.”
On Tuesday morning, Grassley responded to the Fairfax police letter with this statement:
“It’s disappointing that Fairfax County relied on nothing but previously released information and fell back on the old stand-by line that the investigation is ongoing. That’s the problem. The family and the American people deserve answers as to why this is still an ongoing investigation more than 15 months later, and why the police department won’t share information about the investigation. No one should be immune from accountability. The questions can be answered without jeopardizing any legitimate investigation, and they should be.”
Here is the Fairfax police letter:
Here is the Fairfax County Police Department’s general order on release of information:
Here is the letter from the Justice Department to the Fairfax Board of Supervisors: