AT POINT-BLANK range, a Fairfax County police officer a year ago fired one shot, killing an unarmed man standing inside his home. The man, John Geer, was distraught and had been drinking — his longtime girlfriend had moved out and called police when he threw her things into the front yard — but he held no hostages, brandished no weapons and, so far as we have learned, posed no serious threat either to police or to public order. (Mr. Geer did own guns, which he apparently told police.)
Shot in the chest, he was left to bleed to death inside his doorway while police officers, remaining outside the house, did nothing for an hour. Five and a half hours after the shooting, his body remained sprawled on the floor where he died.
Incredibly, the authorities in Northern Virginia — including Fairfax County police and state and federal prosecutors — have refused to furnish any explanation for this stupefying sequence of events last Aug. 29 in Springfield. They have stonewalled.
Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. promised to “hold myself accountable” to Mr. Geer’s family, which includes two young daughters. He has done nothing of the kind. No official information about the shooting has been forthcoming. The officer who fired the shot, who remains on the force with full pay, has not been identified.
The authorities conduct themselves as if the case presented insurmountable complexities. This strains credulity. It involved one shot, one gun, one shooter and one fatality. It took place in broad daylight, at mid-afternoon. It was witnessed at close range by at least two other police officers, as well as friends and neighbors of Mr. Geer. And still authorities refuse to act or discuss Mr. Geer’s death.
Some witnesses have spoken with The Post’s Tom Jackman, who has reported their accounts as well as their mounting frustration at the official paralysis that has ensued for more than 12 months.
At every juncture, the authorities appear to have abdicated their duty of accountability, both to Mr. Geer’s loved ones and to the public. Police took more than three months to furnish reports on the shooting to state prosecutors in the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. More than another month elapsed before the chief prosecutor, Raymond F. Morrogh, citing unspecified conflicts of interest, punted the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, then stopped taking questions on the matter.
That was in February. Since then, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente has refused even to acknowledge that his office is looking into the case, although Justice Department lawyers have interviewed witnesses.
On Tuesday, Mr. Geer’s longtime partner, Maura Harrington, who is the mother of his two daughters, sued the county police, the police chief and three unnamed officers, alleging gross negligence. She seeks $12 million — in addition to some answers that she and Mr. Geer’s other loved ones clearly deserve.
Will no one take responsibility and make some decisions in the unexplained death of Mr. Geer?