An unarmed Virginia man had his hands in the air when he was shot and killed by a Fairfax County police officer in 2013, according to four other police officers who were at the scene, the Washington Post is reporting.
John B. Geer, 46, was killed at his Springfield, Va. townhouse in August of 2013, by Fairfax police officer Adam D. Torres who told investigators that he shot Geer because he had reached for his waist for what Torres thought might be a weapon.
However, in documents released Friday, four other police officers at the scene state that Geer had his hands in the air when Torres shot him from 17 feet away.
Police had been dispatched to Geer’s home on a domestic dispute call on August 29, 2013 , to find a distraught Geer barricaded in the home and refusing to come out.
According to one witness, Geer came out off the house telling officers surrounding the home, “I don’t want anybody to get shot . . . . And I don’t wanna get shot, ’cause I don’t want to die today.”
But as one officer was coaxing Geer to come out of the house after the 44-minute standoff, Torres fired once without warning, striking Geer in the chest and killing him.
Officer Rodney Barnes, a trained negotiator, was still talking with Geer when Torres shot him, surprising him and the three other officers standing close by, the documents state. As Geer went back inside the home, closing the door, Barnes and Torres darted to the side of the townhouse.
“Who shot?” Barnes said he demanded angrily. “I did,” Torres said he told him, adding “I’m sorry.”
According to Barnes, “When the shot happened, his hands were up. I’m not here to throw [Torres] under the bus or anything like that, but I didn’t see what he saw.”
“It’s not good,” Officer David Parker, who was crouching 15 feet behind Torres, told investigators. “He killed that guy and he didn’t have to.”
Torres has maintained that he was justified shooting Geer, telling investigators, “It was not accidental. No, it was justified. I have no doubt about that at all. I don’t feel sorry for shooting the guy at all.”
According to the documents, Torres had been involved in an argument with his wife in the 16 minutes leading up to his arrival at Geer’s home which may have caused him to miss key facts about Geer and the situation at the townhouse.
In a discussion with investigators, Torres was asked, “Did you shoot Mr. Geer because you’re angry at your wife?” to which Torres replied, “No. Not at all.”
Geer’s family and friends have been waiting for information to be released on the 2013 shooting as the case was transferred to the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria following a dispute with the police department’s Internal Affairs division.
Geer family attorney Mike Lieberman criticized the delay, saying, “If this was a similar situation involving two ordinary citizens, there is little doubt that any individual who shot an unarmed man who was holding his hands up in the air and claiming that he did not want to hurt anyone would have been arrested and charged.”
Liberman added, “Within days of the shooting, the police department, at the highest levels, knew of the gross discrepancies between Officer Torres’s version of the events and the accounts provided by every other eyewitness.”