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Police shooting of unarmed man with hands up: No accountability

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Interesting that, although 4 officers saw that the shooting was totally unjustified, the department still protects the policeman who shot the man to death. The police protect their own. Tom Jackman reports in the Washington Post:

John B. Geer stood with his hands on top of the storm door of his Springfield, Va., townhouse and calmly said to four Fairfax County police officers with guns pointed at him: “I don’t want anybody to get shot . . . .And I don’t wanna get shot, ’cause I don’t want to die today.”

But as one officer tried to ease Geer through the standoff, another officer, Adam D. Torres, shot and killed Geer from 17 feet away, telling investigators that he saw Geer move his hands to his waist and thought he might be reaching for a weapon, according to newly released documents from the county.

The other three officers, and a lieutenant watching from a distance, said they saw no such thing, the documents show.

How and why Geer died that afternoon in August 2013 after police responded to a domestic dispute at his home have remained a mystery, as police and prosecutors have declined to comment on the case for 17 months. But Friday night, under a court order obtained by lawyers for the Geer family, Fairfax released more than 11,000 pages of documents that shed new light on the police shooting.

The other officers contradicted Torres’s story, all agreeing that Geer had his hands above his shoulders, did not move them to his waist and was unarmed when he was shot.

The documents also show that Torres was involved in an argument with his wife in the 16 minutes leading up to his arrival at Geer’s home that may have caused him to miss key facts about Geer and the situation at the townhouse. He also did not issue a warning to Geer before he pulled the trigger.“When the shot happened, his hands were up,” Officer Rodney Barnes, who had been talking to Geer at the moment of the shooting, told investigators that evening. “I’m not here to throw [Torres] under the bus or anything like that, but I didn’t see what he saw.”

The documents, which include police investigative reports, transcripts, timelines, photos and dispatcher audiotapes, indicate that Torres said he considered Geer “a credible threat,” because he had placed a holstered gun at his feet at the beginning of the standoff. But the other three officers told investigators that they never considered firing at Geer.

“It’s not good,” Officer David Parker, who was crouching 15 feet behind Torres, told investigators. “He killed that guy and he didn’t have to.”

But Torres said he thought Geer could have had another weapon hidden at his waist. “It was not accidental,” Torres told investigators. “No, it was justified. I have no doubt about that at all. I don’t feel sorry for shooting the guy at all.”

The files also reveal for the first time why the Fairfax prosecutor shifted the case to the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria: an internal affairs investigation into a loud, angry “meltdown” Torres had in the Fairfax County Courthouse. In that incident, five months before the Geer shooting, Torres repeatedly cursed at an assistant county prosecutor and stormed out of the courthouse, according to the prosecutor’s statement included in the released documents.

But county police refused to make the internal affairs file available to Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh. A frustrated Morrogh has said he passed the investigation to the Justice Department because he was unable to get anywhere with the Fairfax police department. [A policeman shot and killed someone who was unarmed with his hands raised, but the department still protects him: that is the situation with the police in the US today. – LG]

Mike Lieberman, an attorney for the Geer family, said: “If this was a similar situation involving two ordinary citizens, there is little doubt that any individual who shot an unarmed man who was holding his hands up in the air and claiming that he did not want to hurt anyone would have been arrested and charged.“Within days of the shooting, the police department, at the highest levels, knew of the gross discrepancies between Officer Torres’s version of the events and the accounts provided by every other eyewitness.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 January 2015 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Law Enforcement

One Response

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  1. Reblogged this on Brian By Experience.

    Brian Dead Rift Webb

    1 February 2015 at 2:19 pm

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