A Virginia man told police officers, “I don’t want to die today” just moments before he was fatally shot in a 2013 incident outside his home in Fairfax County, Virginia.
Other officers, who witnessed police officer Adam Torres shoot 46-year-old John Geer, told investigators Geer had his hands up and never lowered them to his waist.
The shooting occurred Aug. 29, 2013. It was the result of a standoff between police and Geer, who was reportedly distraught upon learning that his partner — and mother of his two children — was leaving him after 24 years. Police are said to have responded to the home after receiving a call that Geer was throwing the woman’s belongings out of the home and onto the front lawn.
Geer, who was shot in the chest, fell backwards into the home, slamming the front door as he fell. His family says he laid there for nearly an hour before a SWAT team entered the house and found him dead.
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The public and an attorney for Geer’s family are getting a look at the investigation records for the first time after the county released more than 11,000 documents and 54 audio recordings related to the case Friday night.
Geer’s father, Don Geer, recently told WRC News he was happy the family is finally getting more information because he has never believed Torres was justified in killing his son.
“It made me feel good that several of the officers say the same thing as I did,” Don Geer said. “Officer Torres saw something other than what we saw. I just can't feel he was justified in pulling the trigger.”
Among those officers whose accounts differ from Torres’ was Rodney Barnes, who can be heard in one of the newly released recordings saying John Geer had his hands up when he was shot while standing near his front door.
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“When the shot happened, his hands were up. I’m not here to throw [Torres] under the bus or anything like that, but I didn’t see what he saw,” Barnes said.
That account is among the things Michael Lieberman, an attorney for the family, will be looking into as he pursues a wrongful death lawsuit against the police.
“You have six eyewitnesses on one side and the shooter on the other side saying something else; tells me... that John Geer was shot wrongfully, unjustifiably,” Lieberman said.
In other recordings, posted to The Washington Post website, Torres can be heard telling investigators he saw the father-of-two reaching for his waist in the seconds before firing the single shot.
Getting the records was a hard fought battle for the family. It ultimately required a judge ordering the county to release them, according to a story from the Inquistr.
Next up for Lieberman will be a request to a Fairfax County judge to compel the police department to release records from their own internal affairs investigation into the shooting.
The case is also being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department.