- The Washington Times - Monday, August 17, 2015

A Fairfax County police officer was indicted by a grand jury Monday on second-degree murder charges two years after he fatally shot a Springfield man while responding to a domestic call at the man’s home.

Adam Torres, who has since been fired from the Fairfax County Police Department, was charged in the killing of 46-year-old John Geer. It is reportedly the first time in the police department’s history that criminal charges have been brought against an officer as a result of an on-duty shooting.

Officer Torres was among several officers who responded to Geer’s home on Aug. 29, 2013, after Geer’s longtime girlfriend called police to report a disturbance. Geer was standing in the doorway of his home talking to officers when Officer Torres fired a single shot that struck him in the chest.

Geer’s family, who was at the scene of the shooting, questioned the officer’s use of deadly force. They later filed a civil lawsuit against the department, which was settled in April for $2.95 million.

“Finally, justice is prevailing,” John Geer’s father Don Geer, told NBC4. “It took a lot longer than we expected. Every step forward in this brings us closer to healing.”

The department was heavily criticized for the near-silence officials maintained on the case for more than a year — including by Sen. Charles Grassley, Iowa Republican.

The indictment comes on the heels of a series of nationally-prominent cases concerning police use of deadly force, especially against minorities. However, the Geer shooting — which involved a Hispanic officer and a white civilian — happened before the Ferguson killing of Michael Brown that truly galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement.

Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. said in a brief statement issued Monday that he had “great respect” for the grand jury process.

“The loss of life is tragic for all,” Chief Roessler said. “We express our sympathy to the Geer family, support to our great community and the men and women of the Fairfax County Police Department.”

Chief Roessler said at a news conference Monday evening that Officer Torres was fired July 31 for violating the department’s policy on use of force.

“Use of force was not reasonable or necessary in this matter,” he said.

He said that Officer Torres was cooperating with officials Monday. Officer Torres turned himself into policy custody Monday evening and was jailed without bond. 

The initial version of events as described by Fairfax County police, stated that officers were advised Geer owned multiple firearms and displayed a gun while talking with officers.

Police said that when Geer began lowering his hands while talking with officers that Officer Torres fired one shot. Geer spun around back inside the home and did not respond to officers after that. When police entered the home about an hour later, Geer was dead. Investigators found a loaded, holstered firearm on the landing of the stairs near where Geer had stood in the doorway.

Earlier this year, the police department released more than 11,000 documents related to the shooting. Among the documents released were transcripts of interviews with other officers on the scene that day who contradicted Officer Torres‘ version of events.

“When the shot happened, his hands were up,” said Officer Rodney Barnes, according to the transcripts.

It was not immediately clear when Officer Torres would have his first court hearing in the case.

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