Who was (the late) John Geer?: If you watched Rachel or Lawrence last night, there are certain things you weren't told.
In the process, you were misled. Rachel even said some things at the end of her TV show which were just plain false. (If we were like the rest of our tribe, we'd refer to those statements as "lies.")
We're referring to the cable stars' pleasing accounts of Donald J. Trump's recent "mini-strokes" tweet. We'll provide the basics this afternoon, along with the selectively reported basics about the leading suspect in last Saturday's homicide in Portland.
(Their tribe is allowed to hear about that; our tribe basically isn't. So it tends to go at times of tribal war.)
We'll fill you in this afternoon on those recent topics. For now, we'll tell you this:
If you watched Rachel or Lawrence last night, there were certain things you were told. Other things were withheld.
Certain facts were correctly reported. Others were disappeared.
Across the sweep of the national press, a similar pattern has obtained in the matter of police shooting deaths. Certain such deaths have been reported and widely discussed. Others have been disappeared.
The shooting death of Bijan Ghaisar is an interesting case in point. Yesterday, we outlined the basics:
Ghaisar, a 25-year-old accountant, was shot and killed by Park Police just outside Washington, D.C. in November 2017.
Since that time, the Washington Post editorial board has described the shooting death of this unarmed man as a virtual "execution."
The Post has further described the subsequent years of "stonewalling" by Park Police as part of a "cover-up," driven by a "code of silence" designed to protect two officers who "gun[ned] down a man for no defensible reason."
We won't be assessing those claims in anything we write. For the record, we'll add this basic point:
We would assume that most fatal shootings by police officers involve no police misconduct. Our nation is awash in guns, and this widely-noted state of affairs does have its effects.
We won't be trying to assess the conduct of police officers in this case. Our point is this:
The Washington Post is a very well-known newspaper. It has been publishing angry editorials about this "execution" and "cover-up" over the past several years.
Its most recent editorial about the shooting death of Bijan Ghaisar appeared just last month. But the shooting death of Bihan Ghaisar has occasioned exactly zero national discussion, even as the topic of police shooting deaths has come to dominate the public discourse.
Some such deaths get widely discussed, as is completely appropriate. But on the national level, the shooting death of Bijan Ghaisar has been disappeared.
So too with the late John Geer. Geer was shot to death by a Fairfax County, Virginia police officer on August 29, 2013.
As with Ghaisar, so too here. Geer was shot and killed in Washington's Virginia suburbs. For that reason, this shooting death was a "local" story for the widely-read Washington Post.
On the national level, the issue of police shooting deaths had just begun taking off as Geer was shot and killed. Over the next few years, the topic came center stage, even as the Washington Post published angry editorials concerning the circumstances of this fatal shooting and the subsequent alleged cover-up.
The Post is a well-known national newspaper. The glorious stars of the upper-end press read many accounts of Geer's shooting death in the Washington Post.
They read accounts of this shooting death in detailed news reports, and in detailed editorials. The angry editorial shown below appeared a year and a half after John Geer's death, and it wasn't the newspaper's first.
You'll note that some details of this shooting death resemble those in other such deaths—in other deaths deemed worthy of national public discussion:
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL (2/2/15): In broad daylight and at close range, three Fairfax County police officers saw a fourth officer, Adam Torres, shoot John Geer once in the chest in August 2013. Two other witnesses, Mr. Geer’s father and a friend, also saw it. All five of those witnesses agreed that Mr. Geer, who had a holstered handgun at his feet, had his hands up at the moment Officer Torres pulled the trigger.Some of these concerns and complaints have arisen in other police shooting deaths—in other deaths deemed worthy of national discussion.
Mr. Geer, a 46-year-old father of two, committed no known crime that day. He had been speaking calmly with the officers for almost three-quarters of an hour when the lethal shot was fired. He then bled to death just inside the doorway of his home.
That was more than 17 months ago, and still there has been no accounting for Mr. Geer’s death. No charges. No indictment. No prosecution. And no information until last week, when the police, complying with a judge’s order, finally released thousands of documents.
Those documents provide a stark picture: Only Officer Torres contended that Mr. Geer made a sudden movement as if going for a gun.
Everyone involved in this case has dropped the ball and dodged responsibility, enabling what now looks like a coverup in a case of police impunity.
The police, who did not seek medical treatment for Mr. Geer or retrieve his body for more than an hour, falsely claimed Mr. Geer had “barricaded” himself inside his house after he was shot, then stonewalled prosecutors and the public for months.
The top prosecutor in Fairfax, Ray Morrogh, punted the case to the feds over a supposed conflict of interest involving a courthouse shouting match between Officer Torres and a rank-and-file prosecutor. That seems a far-fetched reason not to pursue the case.
The feds—first the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, then the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division—sat on the case for months more, saying nothing.
Fairfax’s County’s governing body, the Board of Supervisors, seems incapable of getting its own employees—namely the police and the County Attorney’s office—to conduct themselves responsibly and transparently...
That mind-set seems to have infected virtually every agency in Fairfax, in addition to the feds, that should have stepped up to see that justice was done in the Geer case. The case should be presented to a jury, which can weigh Officer Torres’s account against those of other witnesses. The delay and obfuscation represent a travesty of justice.
The police didn't offer medical treatment, or retrieve Geer's body, in timely fashion? In our view, there was an explanation for that which wasn't crazy. In our view, the same was true in the case of the late Michael Brown.
That said, in the shooting death of Geer, it seems that it actually was a matter of "Hands Up, Got Shot." In this case, no one had to invent that claim in order to make a story read better. According to three (3) police officers on the scene, it seems that it actually happened that way in the case of the late John Geer.
As Fairfax County's alleged stonewalling dragged on and on and on and on, the Post wrote many editorials along this line. Here's a bit of the paper's first editorial, a full year after Geer's shooting death.
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL (9/5/14): The unaccountable death of John GeerPress poobahs read many such editorials in the Washington Post. (Or who knows? Maybe they didn't bother!)
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 [common law wife] 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.
At every juncture, the authorities appear to have abdicated their duty of accountability, both to Mr. Geer’s loved ones and to the public...
Beyond that, they could have read many detailed news reports about what happened that day. For one early example, click here.
As the year 2013 moved on into 2015, the topic of police shooting deaths became a major national focus. But the shooting death of John Geer was granted exactly zero attention within the national press.
In the past few years, the shooting death of Bijan Ghaisar received the same treatment. Other such deaths were widely discussed, as is completely appropriate. But these other unimportant deaths were wholly disappeared.
Now for a bit of a flier:
We regard LeBron James and Doc Rivers as eminently sensible, decent, mature, intelligent men. We wish we could say the same for many national figures within our frequently ridiculous corporate press.
We hold James and Rivers in high regard, as do the people who know them. We're also willing to make a guess:
James and Rivers strike us as very sensible and very decent. But we'll guess they've never heard of the late Bijan Ghaisar or of the late John Geer.
We'll guess that they've never heard a single word about those shooting deaths. Is it possible that misperceptions might take root, then proceed to grow, in such journalistic soil?
Tomorrow: Shot dead in Shasta County