Grover Beach police officer indicted on felony charges
February 2, 2017
CORRECTION:Alex Geiger is facing a maximum sentence of three years and eight months in jail.
By KAREN VELIE
The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office Charged the Grover Beach police officer whose two dogs attacked and killed a 64-year-old man in Grover Beach with two felony counts of owning a dog trained to attack while failing to exercise ordinary care. Alex Geiger is facing up to three years eights months in jail.
Geiger, 25, recently resigned from the Grover Beach Police Department.
Shortly after noon on Dec. 12, both of Geiger’s dogs chewed through a fence and attacked Betty Long, 85, in her front yard. Long’s neighbor, David Fear, went to assist the woman and the officer’s Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd turned their aggression on Fear. Fear died shortly after the brutal attack.
While Long says both dogs attacked her and Fear, the Belgian Malinois, a trained police attack dog, was the most aggressive.
Because of a conflict of interest, Grover Beach police left the investigation up to Eric Anderson, a veterinarian who manages San Luis Obispo County Animal Services.
Anderson, however, failed to set up a crime scene and left bloody clothing on Long’s driveway, neighbors said. California’s dog bite quarantine law requires that a dog that has attacked and bitten someone be “quarantined at a local animal shelter for approximately 10 days to determine whether it is vicious, rabid or diseased.” This law is designed to protect the safety of the bite victim, the owner of the dog and the general public.
Nevertheless, Anderson euthanized the Belgian Malinois and permitted Geiger to keep his German Shepherd.
“I’m really surprised the Belgian Malinois is not under quarantine and not sequestered somewhere,” said Jacqueline Frederick, Long’s attorney. “There should have been an opportunity to evaluate the dog. And I am surprised the second dog was released. I do not know what evidence they have that both dogs were not involved. My client was the only witness and she says otherwise.”
Anderson did not return a request for comment.
After serving as an Explorer Scout, Geiger began working for the King’s County Sheriff’s Department in July 2012. However, he did not make it through his one year probation period.
In Aug. 2014, the Exeter Police Department hired Geiger to serve as an officer. After just one year on the force, the department assigned Geiger a K-9 trained to attack.
Nevertheless, most law enforcement agencies require officers to work for at least seven years as an officer before joining the K-9 unit. These requirements are set in place to provide time for the officer to gain experience before becoming responsible for a K-9.
Sources from within the Exeter Police Department told CalCoastNews that Neo had some training and behavioral issues while in the Valley.
Geiger left Exeter to join the Grover Beach police force in September. That month, Geiger purchased the Belgian Malinois named Neo from the city of Exeter for $5,287.50. Geiger brought Neo and the German Shepherd to Grover Beach as his personal pets.
Shortly after moving into Grover Beach with his dogs, Geiger’s neighbors began having issues with the dogs. Primarily that they were unattended for long periods of time, would try to break through the fence while angrily barking and they would at times bark most of the night.
“They were like rabid dogs,” said Duane Williams, a retired firefighter who lived next door to Geiger. “If we were just walking around in our home, they would go nuts.”
Williams said he never saw Geiger interact with his dog or allow them in his home. At times, Geiger kept the dogs kenneled, though at other times they were only separated from the neighbors by a five-food chain link fence and a wood fence.
“It upset me greatly that he never had contact with the dogs,” Williams said.
Both William and another retired firefighter who lives a house down from Geiger, Rob Doty, said that while neighbors would socialize outside, the dogs would bark and slam their bodies against the fence in an attempt to get out.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, William and Doty decided to confront Geiger about his dogs. The plan was that if one of then noticed Geiger arrive at his home, the other would call and they would meet in Geiger’s front yard.
However, they were never able to catch him before he quickly left after spending just minutes at his home.
“Those dogs were frustrated because they never got any attention from him ever,” Doty said. “We were all victims in the neighborhood. When they finally broke out of the yard, it could have been anybody they killed.”
“Why is this police officer, who is so irresponsible, not in jail?” Doty asked. “Betty Long says that both dogs attacked, but the authorities only observed one dog being aggressive and only took one dog. How come a veterinarian investigated?”
The district attorney’s office has issued an arrest warrant for Geiger.