Crime

Former Grover Beach officer appears in court in fatal dog mauling case

Alex Geiger, the 25-year-old former Grover Beach police officer whose dog attacked Grover Beach residents Betty Long and David Fear, killing Fear, made his first court appearance Tuesday.
Alex Geiger, the 25-year-old former Grover Beach police officer whose dog attacked Grover Beach residents Betty Long and David Fear, killing Fear, made his first court appearance Tuesday. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

A former Grover Beach police officer who owned two dogs that fatally attacked one neighbor and seriously injured another in December entered no plea at his first court appearance Tuesday and is scheduled to appear again next month.

Alex Geiger, 25, is facing two felony charges of failing to maintain control over a dangerous animal. If convicted of both counts, he could face a maximum sentence of about four years in state prison, according to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.

In a standing-room-only San Luis Obispo courtroom Tuesday, about two dozen supporters of 85-year-old Betty Long, who suffered a broken shoulder and pelvis in the Dec. 13 attack, and David Fear, 64, who died after coming to Long’s aid, donned T-shirts bearing Fear’s face and the word “hero.” Long was also present in the courtroom, sitting in a wheelchair.

Geiger remains out of custody after posting $20,000 bail Feb. 3, one day after prosecutors filed charges and two days after he resigned from the Grover Beach Police Department. He had only been with the department for three months.

Geiger’s attorney, John Jackson, requested that Geiger’s arraignment be continued, and Superior Court Judge Dodie Harman scheduled another hearing for March 20.

Investigators found evidence that Geiger failed to use ordinary care in keeping the animal — a 2 1/2 -year-old Belgian Malinois — which he knew to be dangerous, District Attorney Dan Dow said.

A Tribune investigation revealed last month that the dog had been trained as a police K-9 and was previously Geiger’s partner in Exeter, a city of about 10,000 people in Tulare County.

Records obtained by The Tribune show that the dog previously bit a trainer but was not taken out of service.

The Belgian Malinois was euthanized by San Luis Obispo County officials the afternoon of the attack. A second dog — a German shepherd also owned by Geiger — was determined not to have been the primary aggressor in the attack and is being held under specific conditions by a private owner outside the county.

Geiger did not make a statement Tuesday, but previously said his “sympathies and prayers” were with Fear’s family and that he prayed for a “speedy recovery” for Long.

  Comments