A Fairfax County Circuit Court judge has ordered the county to release information about the 2013 shooting death of John Geer to his family [“Police to release shooting records,” Metro, Dec. 23]. Geer was unarmed when he was killed by Fairfax County police.
Geer’s case resembles the case involving my son, optometrist Salvatore J. Culosi, who was killed by Fairfax police in 2006 when the police department routinely permitted the use of SWAT operations for low-risk arrest situations. The officer who shot my son was following the department’s orders, practices and policies for the use of SWAT, and he made what I believe was a serious mistake in using tactics against my son that were unnecessary and that caused his death.
To compound this tragedy, the federal judicial system did not recognize that the use of SWAT to search the home of an unarmed man, whom the Fairfax County Police Department certified was low-risk, was excessive force and a violation of my son’s Fourth Amendment rights. My family sued Fairfax County. I agreed to settle the case — after four years — only because the police department was not a defendant.
I hope that the court in the Geer case resists its traditional inclination of favoring the government. The police department appears to have been trying to protect itself and one of its own with stalling tactics. A federal investigation into Geer’s death is ongoing.
The release order, with which Fairfax County said it would comply, may show that the department may have learned something since 2006. However, if it continued practices and policies in which excessive force was approved in low-risk situations and those policies were an element in this case, the department must be held accountable.
All parties involved — Geer, the officer who shot him and Fairfax County police — deserve a speedy rendering of justice.
Salvatore J. Culosi Sr., Annandale