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'Hallelujah.' Grover Beach families relieved after $20M verdict in fatal 2016 dog attack

betty long .jpg
Posted at 5:26 PM, Jul 30, 2021

A $20 million settlement is bringing some relief to two Grover Beach families following a fatal dog attack in 2016.

On Thursday, a San Luis Obispo County jury awarded $7 million to the children of David Fear, who was killed in the 2016 attack, and $13.8 million to his neighbor, Betty Long, who survived the attack by a retired Exeter police dog that escaped from a Grover Beach backyard.

“It's been a long haul, but thank God it is over now,” Long said. “It was hard knowing what should be done, but not knowing if it will really be taken care of."

After years of suffering, the 90-year-old is finally breathing a sigh of relief.

“Betty suffered devastating injuries at the moment of the dog attack. She had a skull fracture with some head trauma. She had a broken pelvis, she had a completely shattered left shoulder. All of this led to other problems,” said attorney Jacqueline Frederick, who represented Long in the civil case.

Frederick says they asked the jury for money to cover 24/7 home care for Betty as well as past and future emotional damages.

"I'm so thankful that the jury understood what it means to be in the golden years of your life and then to have the rest of your life lived out in pain and disability,” Frederick said.

Long says she never expected this much money.

“I can't believe that it's really true. Who would think that an old lady, 90-years-old, would become a millionaire?” Long said.

While the settlement helps both families heal, they say there will never be enough money to make up for the loss of David Fear.

“Dave, bless his heart, he gave his life to save mine and he will forever be my angel,” Long said.

Long plans to share the money with her family as a way to say "thank you" for taking care of her.

Frederick hopes the verdict results in policy changes to ensure police dogs are trained and retired properly in the future.

"I think a significant factor was the betrayal by the PD to Alex Geiger in failing to train him and failing to warn him and actually lying to him about why he needs to buy the dog,” Frederick said. “We had many officers come and testify what the City of Exeter Police Department should have done. K9s are a valuable resource and tool for law enforcement and the military and it just needs to be done in the right way. I'm really hoping that one of the positive outcomes of this will be some legislation for training for all police departments.”

KSBY News reached out to the City of Exeter for comment on the verdict and did not hear back.