Pat Herrity did what Sharon Bulova, Penny Gross and the rest of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors failed to do for more than two years. Herrity admitted publicly yesterday (Tuesday) it was the Board of Supervisors that approved the coverup in the John Geer police shooting case.
Supervisor Herrity spoke up at a work session after at least two board members tried to pin the cone of silence tactic on Ray Morrogh, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Fairfax County. Herrity said, “The Board made the decision not to disclose.” He went on to elaborate the type of information that was withheld, which included the police officer’s name and any description of what occurred. Herrity also talked about the withholding of information about “discrepancies”, an apparent reference to the fact that fellow officers who witnessed the incident thought it was a bad shooting.
Chairman Bulova jumped into the conversation to remind Herrity they weren’t there to discuss “who struck John.” This wasn’t exactly true. As long as the focus was on Ray Morrogh, Bulova was just fine with her fellow supervisors playing the blame game. But when Herrity chimed in with his reality check, the topic suddenly became off limits.
It was an interesting phrase Sharon Bulova used in her effort to divert the conversation away from Herrity’s candor. That’s because it appears Bulova knew a lot about who struck John well before any of us did. The public didn’t learn until January, thanks to significant outside pressure, that it was Officer Adam Torres who actually struck and killed John Geer with a bullet in August of 2013.
Herrity previously criticized the Board of Supervisors for making decisions in the Geer case behind closed doors. But Herrity’s public statement yesterday appears to be the first by someone who was in those closed door meetings, to clearly take full responsibility for the debacle that has harmed the image of the police department and the county government.
The continued lack of candor on this issue by Bulova, Gross and most of their colleagues remains a disgrace. Herrity’s comments are a reminder that instead of continuing to point fingers at others, the Board of Supervisors needs to look inward. It’s long past time for Bulova and company to release all documents and details on the Geer case decision making.
How can we expect to change the culture that will propel the Fairfax County Police Department into an age of transparency when the bosses are still covering up such important information?