New documents released by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors show that police officers disagree about what led up to the killing of unarmed 46-year-old Springfield, Va. resident John Geer, and that despite that contradiction, no disciplinary action has been taken against the officer who killed Mr. Geer.
In August 2013, John Geer was shot dead in the doorway of his Virginia home by Fairfax County police. He wasn’t armed or threatening police, and had committed no crime.
Now, 18 months after his death, Geer’s story is just starting to make news, due to a judge’s request at the end of last month that made all 11,000 pages documents pertaining to the investigation of Mr. Geer’s death available online. If you are so inclined, you can take a look at the documents here.
For those of you who don’t feel like combing through thousands of documents, here is a brief recap of what happened: In August 2013, Geer’s common law wife called the cops to his house, complaining that she was breaking up with him, and he was angrily throwing her possessions out on the front lawn as a result. She informed the police that Geer did in fact own a legally licensed weapon, but that it was secured, and that he had not been drinking.
Four police subsequently showed up to Geer’s house, and upon seeing them, Geer retreated back into his home. Just a few minutes later, police negotiator Rodney Barnes showed up to begin trying to persuade Geer out onto his porch, with the four officers standing, weapons drawn, behind him. Geer told Barnes he was afraid of being killed by the police, and that, “I don’t want to get shot.”
Once Geer was standing in the doorway to his porch, behind his screen door, Barnes asked Geer if he had a weapon, and Geer informed him he did, retrieved it, and held it aloft and holstered for Barnes to see, before setting it aside. With his hands raised, Geer asked if he could slowly scratch his nose, which Barnes allowed.
“I know if I reach down or drop my hands I can get shot,” Geer told Barnes, before pointing to nearby officer Adam Torres, who kept training his pistol at Geer’s chest, and pleading with Barnes to have Torres point his pistol away from him.
He offered to come be voluntarily handcuffed if Torres and the other officers aiming their guns at him would move “way back.” Geer then asked to scratch his nose again.
Upon that request, Torres fired, crumpling Geer with a fatal bullet to his chest, and setting off what would appear to be a large-scale cover-up by the Fairfax county police.
Torres maintains he saw Geer drop his hands quickly toward his waist, as if he was searching for a weapon. But the three other officers, Barnes, and two civilian witnesses contradicted his account during the department’s investigation.
“I didn’t see that,” Barnes said regarding Torres’ account, “And I never took my eyes off of Geer.”
Every other witness at the scene, also disagreed with Torres’ account, saying Geer never reached for his waist. Yet, nothing occurred as a result of the investigation. Police have stonewalled reporters, and county officials have buried the case, sending it to federal officials to investigate, claiming a conflict of interest.
Eighteen months later, Torres remains on the force. The incident strongly resembles to the killing of Sal Culosi by Fairfax police in 2006.
Barnes, reportedly angry immediately after the shooting, asked, “Who the fuck shot?” Torres admitted he shot Geer, and according to the report, began grumbling about how he was sorry, how his wrist was hurting, and how he had just had a large fight at home with his wife.
Torres now says he doesn’t remember why he said all of that following the shooting. But he did make one thing clear during his interview with investigators.
“I don’t feel sorry for shooting the guy at all.”