A former Exeter police officer has been charged with two felony counts of failing to maintain control of a dangerous animal.
On Dec. 13, Grover Beach police officers responded to a dog attack. A Belgian Malinois and a German shepherd escaped from their owner’s home and attacked Betty Long, 85, and David Foster, 64.
Foster died three days later. Long suffered major injuries.
The Belgian Malinois, a retired police dog, was identified by authorities as the aggressor and was euthanized the same day.
Police released the name of the owner on Dec. 22. The animals belonged to Alex Geiger, 25, a four-year law enforcement officer who had been with the Grover Beach Police Department since September 2016, according to Chief of Police John Peters.
“We continue to express our deepest sympathies to the families of [Fear] and [Long] during this very difficult time,” Peters said.
An arrest warrant was issued for Geiger on Feb. 1. He was able to make bail and is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 21.
He issued the following statement:
“I can’t begin to imagine the pain and sadness that the families of [Fear] and [Long] are going through as a result of this tragic incident,” Geiger wrote. “I know my words cannot change what happened, but I wish to express my sympathies and prayers to the Fear family during this difficult time. I am also praying for [Long] and her family and I wish her a speedy recovery.”
Geiger has since resigned from the department and is no longer an employee with the city of Grover Beach, officials said.
Prior to Grover Beach, Geiger was an officer with Exeter Police Department. The Belgian Malinois was a trained police dog and Geiger’s partner in Exeter. When he left the department, he took the dog with him as a pet.
Exeter Chief of Police Cliff Bush could not be reached for comment.
On Feb. 2, the San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s Office filed two felony charges against Geiger – failing to maintain control of a dangerous animal. District Attorney Dan Dow said that Geiger knew that the animal was dangerous and “failed to use ordinary care in keeping the animal.”
According to the DA, this is the first known case in the county of a dog mauling leading to death of a person. The maximum punishment Geiger faces, if convicted, is three years and eight months in state prison.