Grover Beach, CA — No charges have yet been levied against a Grover Beach Police officer whose former law enforcement K-9s ran loose from his yard, mauled an 85-year-old woman, and killed a 64-year-old man.
On December 13, Betty Long took her small dog on a walk, when witnesses say a Belgian Malinois and a German shepherd — running loose in the neighborhood — viciously attacked.
Neighbor David Fear rushed to assist the elderly woman, and was, himself, besieged by the violent dogs.
Long and Fear were transported to the hospital with critical injuries, but Fear had lost so much blood, he later died after organ failure.
Long, reports The Tribune, “sustained a broken pelvis and shoulder and will require four to six weeks of treatment, according to her family.”
A man was killed and an elderly woman mauled because someone didn’t bother with responsibility for their animals — but this someone happens to be a Grover Beach Police officer. So, instead of facing charges of negligent homicide, leash violations — or anything at all — the officer has been given the customary paid vacation, administrative leave, all cops suspected of wrongdoing receive.
Fear has been hailed as a hero for selflessly protecting his neighbor — and paying the ultimate price — but blind worship for a uniform and the myth of selfless service in law enforcement grants the officer ultimately responsible for the killing, an expected shield of impunity, with pay.
Worse, reports the Tribune, the Belgian Malinois “had bitten a trainer on the hand during a bite suit exercise six months before his officer owner moved to Grover Beach and took the dog with him as a personal pet, records show.
“The dog — a 2 1/2 -year-old Belgian Malinois named Neo — was not taken out of service at the Exeter Police Department after the training incident. When the dog’s handler, Officer Alex Geiger, resigned and bought the the fully certified police K-9 from the city of Exeter for $5,287 in late August, Geiger signed a waiver relieving Exeter of any future liability, records provided to The Tribune show.”
Geiger worked for the Exeter Police Department as a provisional and then K-9 officer before his employment with Grover Beach. While at Exeter, Geiger handled, trained, and patrolled with Neo.
Exeter police Chief Cliff Bush and Exeter Deputy City Attorney Matt Pearce refused to elaborate to the Tribune on the extent of injury in the training incident, and whether the dog or the trainer had been at fault — so the outlet filed a public records request, and received nearly 90 pages from the City of Exeter.
Weekly bite training sessions with Neo and other K-9s were being conducted when the Belgian Malinois was commanded to ‘engage’ with an officer named ‘Hayes,’ who was wearing a protective bite suit.
“Neo engaged like he was supposed to, however he accidentally grabbed ahold of the part of the suit near the right hand and partially Hayes’ right hand,” Geiger wrote in a report of the incident, cited by the Tribune.
According to the records, the bite Hayes endured was relatively minor — around a half-inch that drew blood.
Police K-9 trainers insist the dog behaved as would be expected, and if a “hand is dangling out of the suit, they will get them,” retired Modesto Police Lt. Ron Cloward, who trains law enforcement dogs, told the Tribune. “I wouldn’t take a dog out of service because it bit a decoy in the hand.”
After moving to Grover Beach for the new job, Geiger attempted to start a K-9 program for the department, but a $30,000 proposal to Police Chief John Peters was refused.
Following the attack on Betty Long and David Fear, Neo was euthanized and the German shepherd quarantined — the latter was found not responsible in the attack by investigators.
By all appearances, it seems Geiger will not be held responsible in any manner for the mauling of an 85-year-old woman and the death of her neighbor. Grover Beach police initially refused even to identify the officer responsible and have guarded as much information in the case as they’re able — but the families of the two victims deserve some semblance of justice for Geiger’s utter irresponsibility.
Arteries in Fear’s arms were torn to shreds, and he suffered severe loss of blood which ultimately caused organs to shut down.
Daughter, Sarah Fear, still in shock soon after the attack, lamented her father would not be able to walk her down the aisle as planned in her upcoming wedding.
“It was just a completely disgusting, irresponsible act.”