UPDATE (3 p.m.) – A jury has found a former Grover Beach police officer not guilty of all charges related to a deadly dog attack.
Alex Geiger was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of failing to maintain control of a deadly or dangerous animal for the 2016 attack that killed a man and seriously injured an elderly woman in their Grover Beach neighborhood.
It took jurors just a few hours to reach their verdict after deliberations began Friday morning.
Geiger’s attorney, Melina Benninghoff, said she wasn’t surprised that the jury came back so quickly.
“It was a hard fought case,” she said. “This was a civil case all along and it wasn’t until the DA received enormous pressure from the victim’s family that they then decided to pursue a criminal case and then did so. All along it was an accident. My client had no criminal culpability as evidenced by how quickly the jury came back.”
In a statement, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office said, “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. 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.”
(10:42 a.m.) – A jury began deliberations Friday in the case against former Grover Beach police officer Alex Geiger.
Geiger faces felony charges for involuntary manslaughter and two counts of failing to maintain control of a deadly or dangerous animal.
Geiger’s dog attacked two of his neighbors in Grover Beach in 2016.
David Fear, 64, died of his injuries from the attack. Betty Long, who was 85 at the time, was seriously injured.
Betty Long was in court Friday morning along with family members of David Fear.
San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagner is prosecuting the case.
Wagner and Geiger’s attorney, Melina Benninghoff, gave their closing arguments Thursday.
Friday morning, Wagner gave a brief rebuttal to Benninghoff’s closing argument, calling into question Geiger’s responsibility and negligence to kennel his dog given his awareness of the dog’s behavioral tendencies.
Judge Jacquelyn Duffy gave the jury instructions before heading into the deliberation room.
The jury entered the deliberation room at about 9:25 a.m. Friday to consider all the evidence presented over the month-long trial.