WASHINGTON – Fairfax County has released the name of the police officer who shot a Springfield man along with additional details regarding the fatal 2013 shooting that has resulted in multiple investigations and a civil suit including that the victim threatened police with a gun.
Fairfax County police issued a statement late Monday afternoon identifying Patrolman Adam Torres as the officer who fired a single shot at John Geer on Aug. 29, 2013. An autopsy found that Geer bled to death.
Police had been called to Geer’s home by his long-time partner after an argument. Witnesses have said that Geer was unarmed.
His partner, Maura Harrington, sued the county for $12 million seeking detailed information about Geer’s killing, including the names of the officers involved. In December, a Fairfax judge ordered the county to release documents, evidences and the names of the officers involved.
Police are now saying that they were told that Geer had multiple guns in his home, that he “displayed” one of the guns and threatened officers with it and that he refused to remain outside and speak with responding officers.
But police also say that officers tried to negotiate with Geer and spoke with him for more than 30 minutes as Geer remained in the doorway to his Springfield home.
“When Geer began lowering his hands at one point during the negotiations, PFC Adam Torres fired a single shot that struck Geer. Geer immediately retreated inside the home and shut the front door,” according to the police statement.
Tactical officers were sent into the home, along with a tactical paramedic, to check on Geer, finding that he was already dead.
Officers also found a loaded, but holstered gun on the steps near the front door. Seven other guns were located inside the home, according to police.
But Geer’s father contests the police department’s account and says his son never had a gun in his hand.
“Some of the information that they (police) did release, it is tainted toward the police,” says Donald Geer of Fairfax Station. “I witnessed the situation and John was unarmed. To my knowledge police never saw a firearm.”
Torres has worked for the county police department for eight years. He was placed on administrative duty following the shooting and remains on administrative duty pending the outcome of the criminal and personnel investigations.
The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the shooting and not local prosecturos.
Fairfax County Board Chair Sharon Bulova says that the delay in releasing information about a police action shooting is an anomaly. Typically the name of the officer involved is released once the commonwealth’s attorney has decided whether or not charges should be filed, usually within a few weeks. But in this case, Ray Morrogh opted instead to pass the case along to the Justice Department, Bulova says.
There is no timeline when the federal investigation could be completed but the county has asked for a “timely resolution,” she says.
“I’m glad that we have a court order that requires us to release the information that people have been asking for,” she tells WTOP. “It essentially gives us the cover we need to be able to make an exception to our policy and to provide information about the officer and some details that we have not provided previously about the actual incident.”
She says that providing such transparency and clarity helps to maintain the public’s trust.
WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on Facebook.
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