Former officer sentenced to 1 year in 2013 fatal shooting
FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) -- A former police officer in Virginia will be getting out of jail in less than a week after being sentenced Friday for the fatal on-duty shooting of a man who had his hands up when he was shot.
Adam Torres, who had been an officer with Fairfax County Police, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter earlier this year in the 2013 shooting death of John Geer, 46, of Springfield. The shooting came after a 40-minute standoff with police who had been called to a domestic dispute.
His plea deal required the judge to impose a 12-month sentence. The only question was whether Judge Robert Smith would accept the deal; he did so during a brief hearing Friday.
Torres has been jailed since his arrest in August. He has already served more than 10 months, and inmates typically receive time off their sentence under state rules for calculating time served. Maegan Timothy, spokeswoman for the Fairfax County Sheriff's Office, said Torres' release date is set for June 29.
Still, Torres' time in jail was "long enough to miss the birth of his son," said his wife, Danielle, after Friday's hearing. She was in court along with her newborn son.
Torres' lawyer, John Carroll, said the shooting was "a terrible tragedy first and foremost for the Geer family," but also had significant repercussions for Torres, who can no longer serve as a police officer.
"He started out that day doing his job, a job he can't do any longer," Carroll said.
Torres declined to speak at Friday's hearing. At his plea hearing back in April, he apologized for his actions.
Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh admitted mixed feelings about negotiating the plea; he brought murder charges initially and wanted to bring the case to trial, but he acknowledged that obtaining convictions against police officers is difficult, and said a plea deal spared Geer's children from having to testify.
Maura Harrington, Geer's longtime partner, supported the plea deal. However, Geer's mother, Anne Geer, opposed the deal and wanted a longer sentence.
"It's insulting to say the crime of murder is only worth one year in a protected cell," she told the judge at Friday's Hearing. "John will spend forever in his grave. This is not justice for John."
Prosecutors say Torres was angry over the breakup of his marriage and unfit for duty after fighting with his wife the day of the shooting.
Torres said he thought Geer was dropping his hands and might be reaching for a nearby handgun.
The standoff began when Harrington called 911. She had just told Geer she was moving out. Geer threatened to kill himself; Harrington informed dispatchers that Geer owned several firearms.
Torres was one of the first two officers on the scene. Later, a trained negotiator took command. Geer had a .357 Magnum pistol that he laid at his feet during the standoff, but he kept his hands up, witnesses said. He told the officers, "I have a gun because you have guns, and I might need mine." He also said "I don't want to die" and "I don't want to get shot."
The medical examiner determined Geer had a blood-alcohol level between .13 and .16, above the legal limit.
Torres became the first officer in the 75-year history of the Fairfax County police force to be convicted for his role in an on-duty shooting. The case prompted changes to procedures and use-of-force guidelines in the county, Virginia's largest locality with a population of more than 1 million.
Torres is white, as was Geer. Torres' prosecution occurred in the midst of a national debate over police use of force, particularly against African-Americans.