Mourners await answers

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Mourners await answers
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Family, friends, politicians and Fairfax County police officers gathered together on Forest Haven Ave. in the Alexandria area of Fairfax Sunday amid drizzling rain and somber faces, to plant a macintosh tree honoring Ashley McIntosh, the 33-year-old kindergarten aide who was killed when a Fairfax County police cruiser struck her car on Feb. 12.

The gathering was initiated after McIntoshs concerned family and friends initiated a petition supporting an in-depth and unbiased investigation by the countys police force, which police officials have assured, but have not yet provided.

Obviously the agency enjoys a good reputation amongst the community and has for a long time, said Fairfax County Police Captain and Commander of the Mt. Vernon section, Mike Kline. So were hoping that that the trust weve built over many, many decades will allow the community to understand that we will do the right thing.

The officer involved in the crash, a 22-year-old woman with less than a years experience on the police force, is now working in an administrative capacity, Kline said, which is routine when an officer gets involved in something of this magnitude.

Nearly two months have passed since McIntosh was killed, and family and friends still await an official investigative report from the county. They made their worries known at the tree-planting ceremony. 

We hope that authorities will recognize our power in numbers, our strength to persevere and our desire to conduct a fair and impartial investigation into my sisters accident, said Meredith Heller, McIntoshs sister. This community of people deserves and demands to understand how this tragic event occurred.

Im worried theyre going to cover their own, and that lady will be a police officer forever, said Kate Hendricks, a 23-year-long friend of McIntoshs. I dont know how this usually works, but two months sounds like a really long time when I feel like a regular citizen would be in jail awaiting trial.

Eight weeks without an official investigation report is not out of the ordinary, according to Kline.

Fairfax County Supervisor Gerry Hyland was on hand, speaking after friends and family, assuring a comprehensive and unbiased investigation by the police. Your loss is felt by every single member of the force, Hyland said. When that investigative report is finished we will review that report, and I can tell you with no uncertainty that if I feel that report is not objective, thorough, fair and a full investigation into this matter, I will be the first one to say, Go outside of Fairfax County and investigate this matter.

Though Hyland and Fairfax Police Chief David Rohrer said they could not discuss the cases specifics, Hyland highlighted sirens audibility, or lack thereof, as an issue.

The only question that remains is the question of the speed of the vehicle when the officer entered the intersection, Hyland said.

Chief Rohrer addressed the gloomy crowd after McIntoshs sister presented him the petition, complete with names and comments.

I do accept this petition, Chief Rohrer said. But let me just say Ive already promised and I continue to promise a full, impartial, comprehensive and balanced investigation.

Im here because I want to be here, Roher added. In any case of this magnitude, it does take time.

Family members ended the ceremony by shoveling dirt onto the McIntosh tree. 
Upon the investigations completion it will be up to the Commonwealths Attorney to provide the next legal steps in the process.

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