This story has been updated to include the date that Officer Adam Torres was terminated.
The Fairfax County police officer who fatally shot an unarmed man in Springfield has been fired, police confirmed Friday, adding another chapter to a nearly two-year saga that has bewildered residents and baffled county politicians.
Officer Adam D. Torres, 32, fired one round that killed John B. Geer, 46, who was standing in the doorway of his townhouse during a 42-minute standoff after a domestic disturbance call. No charges have been filed against Torres, but a special grand jury began hearing testimony and reviewing evidence in the case last week and is scheduled to meet again Aug. 17.
County police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said Friday that Torres was “no longer an employee of the FCPD” but declined to say when he was fired. She said Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. “will have a statement to the community at the conclusion of the special grand jury deliberations and process.”
[Update: Torres was fired on July 31, Fairfax police said Monday.]
Torres and his attorney, John F. Carroll, did not return messages seeking comment.
Don Geer, the victim’s father, said Friday: “I think it’s long past due. It should’ve been done a long, long time ago. I guess we’re beginning to see some justice being served.”
Torres joined the Fairfax department in January 2006, shortly after he graduated from George Mason University with a degree in administration of justice. Torres, who spent his formative years in Springfield and graduated from Hayfield Secondary School, is married with two young children.
Geer had lived with his partner, Maura Harrington, for 24 years and had two teenage daughters. On Aug. 29, 2013, Harrington informed Geer that she was moving out of their townhouse on Pebble Brook Court, and Geer responded by tossing Harrington’s belongings onto the front yard.
Harrington called 911, and Torres and Officer David Neil responded. Geer turned and walked inside, standing with his hands on the screen-door frame. Torres has told investigators that Geer held up a holstered handgun, said, “I have a gun. I will use it if I need to because you guys have guns,” and then placed it on the floor.
Other officers soon arrived, including Officer Rodney Barnes, a former Navy seaman and trained negotiator, and Officers David Parker and Benjamin Kushner. Barnes told detectives that he was speaking cordially with Geer as Torres kept his pistol aimed at Geer’s chest from about 17 feet. Parker and Kushner were behind Torres.
Suddenly, while Barnes was still trying to persuade Geer to come outside, Torres fired one shot. Geer spun around, closed the front door and fell. Barnes reported hearing movement inside the house, and officers were aware that Geer had other guns. Police waited an hour before rendering aid, but Geer was dead just inside the door.
Torres, accompanied by Carroll, his attorney, told detectives four days after the shooting that Geer “brought both his hands down in a quick motion towards his waist, and I fired a shot right through the screen door and hit him.”
But Barnes, Parker, Kushner and a fourth officer, Lt. Ron Manzo, all said Geer had his hands near his head or shoulders. Don Geer and John Geer’s best friend, Jeff Stewart, also witnessed the shooting and said Geer’s hands were near his head.
Torres was placed on paid administrative duty. The homicide unit investigated, as it does all police shootings, and by November 2013 had presented much of its case to Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh.
But when Morrogh asked to see Torres’s prior internal affairs cases, the police chief refused, even though such filess had been provided to the prosecutor in prior police shootings, Morrogh has said. In January 2014, with the two sides at an impasse, Morrogh referred the case to the Justice Department, which apparently obtained the internal affairs files but has taken no action.
After the passing of a year, during which Geer’s family waited for authorities to take action, Harrington sued Roessler in September on behalf of her two daughters. The police department then launched an internal affairs investigation, which it typically does not undertake until a decision on criminal charges is made.
Fairfax police and county lawyers still resisted releasing any information about the case, saying it was under federal investigation. But after the Justice Department issued a letter stating it did not object to the release of information, Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Randy I. Bellows ordered the county in December to provide its case file to attorneys for Geer’s family.
In January, police released Torres’s name for the first time, 16 months after the shooting. Later that month, the officers involved were interviewed by internal affairs. And on Jan. 30, the county published the case file online.
In April, the county agreed to settle the lawsuit and pay Geer’s daughters $2.95 million.
The nine-member special grand jury was empaneled in June and last week began hearing from witnesses, including Harrington, Don Geer, Stewart and the four officers nearest Torres at the time of the shooting. Torres did not appear.
Of Torres’s firing, Harrington said Friday, “It’s about time,” but she declined to comment further. Michael Lieberman, the family’s attorney, said the firing “should have happened two years ago. There’s nothing that happened in the last 23 months that they didn’t know right away, and they let him stay on the payroll for two years. Fairfax County needs to urgently change their procedures.”