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Officer cleared in fatal shooting in Arlington

An investigation by Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos found that the county police officer who shot and killed a man during a chaotic confrontation at a Ballston apartment in May was justified in using deadly force.

Stamos's 17-page report issued Friday concluded that Officer Michael Laird had "compelling reasons to believe" that 54-year-old Alfredo Rials-Torres "presented an imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death to all present at the scene." Stamos wrote that Laird acted consistently with departmental policies when he shot and killed Rials-Torres, and she saw no basis for criminal charges.

“I consider this matter closed,” she wrote.

The Commonwealth Attorney’s full report on the shooting

Stamos's report also gave the most thorough accounting yet of the incident, based on her interviews with the officers involved and a review of the medical examiner's report and physical evidence, among other things. Stamos wrote that a neighbor in Gates of Ballston apartments first called police after having seen Rials-Torres arguing with his 87-year-old mother. Three officers, including Laird, arrived and made their way up toward the apartment, though only two could stand on the narrow landing in front of the door.

In her synopsis of the incident, Stamos wrote that Rials-Torres’s mother opened the door, looking shaken and scared. Rials-Torres then stepped in front of her, trying to shut the officers out.

That set off a confrontation, as Laird and Sgt. John Letos tried to make their way inside. Stamos wrote that Rials-Torres got a long metal pole and jabbed Laird in the face, and Laird, in trying to shoot Rials-Torres with a Taser, inadvertently struck Letos in the arm.

After Letos retreated, an injured Laird made his way into the apartment and shot Rials-Torres three times, Stamos wrote in her report. She wrote that the medical examiner concluded Rials-Torres was likely swinging the pole when he was shot — with the first bullet striking his arm and causing him to spin and the next two hitting his back.

The incident was the first fatal shooting by an Arlington County police officer since 2006.