A Fairfax County police union is strongly defending an officer charged in the 2013 killing of an unarmed Springfield man, calling his arrest “unbelievable” and blasting the handling of the case by the county’s top prosecutor, police department and its leaders.
The Fairfax Coalition of Police Local 5000 released a long and sharply worded statement Monday, a week after one of its members, Officer Adam D. Torres, was indicted by a special grand jury in the fatal shooting of John Geer, 46, during a domestic-dispute call.
“Officer Torres didn’t come to work that day looking to hurt or kill anyone,” the statement reads. “He didn’t get out of the car looking to hurt or kill anyone. What became abundantly clear soon after arriving on the scene that day almost two years ago was that he was dealing with an armed irrational subject that had made numerous threats to friends, family and police officers.”
The statement, from President Sean Corcoran, later added of Fairfax County police officers, “we could all be Adam Torres.”
The union also attacked Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh (D) for citing Torres’s “deteriorating” mental state at the time of the shooting in successfully arguing against bond for Torres at a hearing last week.
Among other issues, Morrogh told a judge that Torres had told his supervisors that his wife was having an affair and that she had traveled to Hawaii to be with a boyfriend before the shooting. The union said the argument was based on “conjecture, rumor and fallacies.”
“Hearing this salacious argument from what is supposed to be an officer of the court of the highest integrity was enough to make one retch,” the statement reads.
The statement went on to ding the judge who denied Torres bond as well as the police department and county officials for failing to support Torres and other officers on the force.
The statement is significant because it is the first from rank-and-file officers since Torres’s indictment and takes a sharply different tone from that of county leaders, who said Torres’s case should spur changes in how the department handles police shootings and communicates with the public.
It also highlights tensions between officers and Morrogh, after The Washington Post reported last week that Morrogh was angry that an internal affairs commander had secretly recorded a conversation with one of his deputies during the Geer investigation in February. Morrogh did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Torres has been charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Geer on Aug. 29, 2013. After being called to Geer’s home because he had fought with his partner, officers got into a 42-minute standoff with Geer as he stood in the doorway.
Geer showed officers a gun and said he wasn’t afraid to use it, officers at the scene told investigators. He then placed it on the ground and stood with his hands resting on top of a storm door. At one point, he told a negotiator that he didn’t want to die.
But Torres suddenly fired a single shot at Geer, who retreated inside his home and died.
Torres later told officers that Geer had quickly moved his hands downward as if reaching for a gun, but six other witnesses said Geer kept his hands up.
Don Geer, John Geer’s father, who witnessed the incident, and the family’s attorney, Mike Lieberman, said the union’s characterization of the situation that led to Geer’s shooting was not accurate.
“I’m quite sure John didn’t expect to die that day,” Lieberman said.
“If one was to read the record, John asked Torres to put his gun down and told the officers he didn’t want to die that day. He spoke calmly to them for 45 minutes with his hands above his head,” he added.
In response to the statement, Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. wrote in an e-mail that the police department “will always maintain the greatest respect for the criminal justice system, those who are tasked with its administration, and all the citizens who are called to serve their community as part of the justice process.”