Former Grover Beach officer found not guilty in fatal dog attack

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

A jury found former Grover Beach police officer Alex Geiger not guilty on Friday of two felony counts alleging he did not maintain control of his retired police dog before it attacked and killed a neighbor, and one felony count of manslaughter.

While the defense argued the death was a tragic accident that the victim may have provoked with a BB gun, the prosecution claimed there was considerable evidence that the Geiger’s dogs were dangerous. The prosecution also raised questions about issues with securing the fence the dogs broke through.

During closing arguments, Geiger’s attorney Melina Benninghoff and Judge Jacquelyn Duffy questioned prosecutor Steve Wagner’s tactics. On three occasions, Benninghoff objected because Eagner was using facts not in evidence, with the judge agreeing each time, according to KSBY.

On Dec. 12, 2016, the two dogs belonging to 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, survived serious injuries.

In a statement released shortly after the verdict was read, District Attorney Dan Dow said he plans to continue to support the victims and their families.

“While disappointed with the result, the District Attorney’s Office wishes to thank the Jury for their diligent service to our community in hearing the case of People v. Alex Geiger,” Dow said.  “The facts of this case are tragic for all involved and the incident has greatly affected the families of the victims Mr. David Fear and Ms. Betty Long.  Our staff at the Christopher G. Money Victim Witness Assistance Center will continue to provide available support to the victim’s families going forward.”

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