Appellate court overturns $20.8 million award in dog attack case

February 8, 2024

Kings County Deputy Sheriff Alex Geiger and “Boss” with a demonstration at Hidden Valley Park in Hanford, California in 2013.


An appellate court overturned a decision by a San Luis Obispo County jury that awarded $20.8 million to the elderly woman injured and the family of a man killed in a 2016 Grover Beach dog attack. 

On Dec. 12, 2016, the dogs belonging to then-Grover Beach officer Alex Geiger chewed through a fence, broke loose and attacked a 64-year-old man and an 85-year-old woman. The man, David Fear, died shortly after the attack, while the elderly woman, Betty Long, Long survived, despite suffering a fractured skull, broken pelvis, shattered shoulder and dog bites to her torso.

The dog that was determined to be the more aggressive animal was a Belgian Malinois that had been trained as a K-9 and served in the Exeter Police Department with Geiger. Authorities euthanized the Belgian Malinois following the attack.

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. Neo reportedly had some training and behavioral issues while serving as a police dog in the Central Valley.

Geiger left Exeter to join the Grover Beach police force in Sept. 2016. That month, Geiger purchased the Belgian Malinois from the city of Exeter for $5,287.50. Geiger then brought Neo to Grover Beach as a personal pet.

Long, who died in 2023, had endured persisting shoulder injuries, and she suffered a stroke that an expert witness testified was attributed to the attack.

In 2019, a criminal jury found Geiger not guilty of two felony counts alleging he did not maintain control of his retired police dog and one felony count of manslaughter.

Separately, Geiger settled for an undisclosed amount as the case played out in civil court. Initially, the city of Grover Beach was named in a lawsuit filed by attorneys Jacqueline Vitti Frederick and Sunny Hawks, but it was removed from the case in the years leading up to the trial.

Following a nearly month-long trial, the civil jury found the Exeter Police Department did not properly train Geiger how to safely secure his retired police dog. The retired K-9 was not supposed to be treated like a pet. Rather, it was supposed to be kenneled anytime Geiger was not around.

Jurors found former Exeter Police Chief Clifton Bush and Lieutenant Brett Inglehart were negligent in how they trained Geiger to care for his retired K-9. The jury also found Geiger to share some responsibility for the attack.

The jury unanimously decided to award all of the money sought by the plaintiffs. Jurors awarded $13.8 million to Long and $7 million to Fear’s family.

In a 9-3 vote, the jurors found Inglehart 42 percent liable for Fear’s death, Bush 41.5 percent and Geiger 16.5 percent. All 12 jurors decided Long, Geiger’s property management company and Geiger’s landlords were not responsible.

Last month, the Court of Appeal overturned the jury’s decision, ruling Inglehart, Bush and Geiger were not liable for the attack.

The ruling left the victims’ families devastated. The families say they have not received closure and are now seeking to bring the case to the California Supreme Court.


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Geiger’s first year with Grover Beach PD he received $5,280.00 of “other pay”

He paid $5,287.50 to Exeter for the dog. Coincidence eh?

But yeah of course it’s a conspiracy to suggest they weren’t trying to backdoor a K-9 policy.

I guess they didn’t Backdoor a K-9 liability policy. At least not in time.

Seems almost impossible to hold the police accountable for their actions in all respects.

especially when judges are bought and pretend to be democratic or republican and lust for money. absolute power corrupts absolutely.

How could the owner of the dog have no responsibility in this situation?

The dog was a deadly weapon trained to attack people, way worse than leaving a loaded weapon on the street that can do no harm on its own.

because he’s a cop.

Back the blue until it happens to you. need to replace courts with AI asap. Humans, even with religion, have no ethics. I bet Geiger and all those guilty sleep well at night on their Egyptian cotton sheets. I want to leave here so badly, and shall. California, and most of America, has let down it’s citizens and environment and the planet.

Except AI will be paid for and programmed by the State… which loves all the protection the police provide them.

The deep dark secret here is that Geiger was brought to Grover entirely for the purpose of backdooring a K9 program for the department because the city wouldn’t approve one at the time. That was the dog that was going to be released on the public should anyone be noncompliant. Geiger was a trainer and he knew damn well that he was supposed to have that dog in a kennel.

The level of police corruption, incompetence, arrogance and disregard for public safety in this case was shocking. Nevermind the money, there should have been multiple criminal charges brought against the chief of the Grover Beach PD as well. I am very curious about what the technicality was that resulted in this successful appeal.

MKaney you are dead wrong about the Grover Beach Police Department wanting to bring in Geiger to ‘back door’ a canine program for Grover PD. Geiger came with that expectation and was promptly and summarily turned down for that aspiration.

The K9 had ‘flunked’ it’s police training in Exeter and there is no reason the GBPD would under any circumstance would find this proposal acceptable. That’s why Grover’s liability was dropped from the case.

Please keep your conspiracy theories to yourself in the future that are not based on facts.

doubt this is a conspiracy Chief of Grover PD. cops getting away with crimes? Never? said a psycho delusional entity.

Yeah ok you go ahead and believe that bureaucratic B.S. Many others know otherwise. Obviously the chief covered his ass well and avoided the liability. Geiger’s whole career was based on being a K-9 handler, GB knew that when they hired. His first year he was paid $18,224 salary. He purchased the dog from Exeter for $5,287.50

He then received $5,280 in “other” pay from the police department.

Do the math.