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Virginia Police Officer Arraigned on Murder Charge

Updated on August 21, 2015

Case Raises Questions of When Police Are Personally Liable in Shootings

A Fairfax County grand jury in August 2015 indicted a former police officer on charges he murdered an unarmed Springfield man in the doorway of his home.

Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh sought a bench warrant for Adam D. Torres, making him the first police officer in the county’s history to be indicted for murder after shooting someone while on duty.

Torres was fired from his job at the Fairfax County Police Department after shooting 46-year-old John Geer.

Police were called to Geer’s house after neighbors reported a domestic disturbance. Geer had been arguing with his girlfriend.

He reportedly held his hands over his head but had a holstered gun at his feet when he was shot.

The shooting prompted public protests and a county review of police policies and training on use of deadly force. It also coincided with other controversial police shootings in Baltimore, New York and Ferguson, Mo.

The grand jury heard testimony from nearly 20 witnesses over six days before returning the second-degree murder indictment. Forrest was arraigned this week in Fairfax County Circuit Court.

Torres told investigators that during a 42-minute standoff on Aug. 29, 2013, Geer displayed the holstered handgun and told two police officers, I have a gun; I will use it if I need to because you guys have guns.

As a police negotiator spoke with Geer, Torres reportedly fired one shot at the homeowner, which surprised the other officers. Geer retreated into his townhouse, where he died minutes later.

Torres later told investigators he did not fire the shot accidentally. He said it was a justified shooting. Torres is represented by attorney John F. Carroll.

Torres fainted in court during his arraignment when a judge set the trial for Dec. 14, 2015.

A Virginia police shooting case is raising issues of when police officers are criminally liable for shooting people in the line of duty.
A Virginia police shooting case is raising issues of when police officers are criminally liable for shooting people in the line of duty.

When Are Police Criminally Liable?

Should a police officer face criminal charges when he thinks he is shooting someone in the line of duty?

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      Tom Ramstack 24 months ago

      I see your point about making a critical decision. In this case, even the hostage negotiator who was on the scene was surprised when the police officer fired his gun. It's going to be a tough criminal case for a jury and one that probably will have repercussions in national news stories.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 24 months ago from Northern California, USA

      Excellent commentary. It is difficult to know what is in the mind of police officers at the moment they shoot their gun. If I were to ponder and come up with an answer, my guess would be that most officers believe their life is in danger. If I put myself in the shoes of the officer in this story, under the same circumstance, I might shoot the person too. I have been around guns long enough to know that bullets are fast. It only takes a moment for someone to grab and shoot. I'd rather shoot you before you shoot me. Granted, some officers are far too trigger happy for my comfort level, but I hope I am not naïve in believing most officers strive to uphold the law. They carry guns to help them toward that objective. Sometimes, they have to make that critical decision to take the shot and hope it was the right one.