In a month that saw the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death and the 1965 Watts Riots, police officers in Virginia and Georgia have been charged in the deaths of civilians — one of whom was unarmed and another who was handcuffed when he died.
Fairfax County police officer Adam D. Torres was charged with second-degree murder in the death of John Geer on Monday. The indictment of the officer who shot and killed the 46-year-old two years ago is said to be the first time in the 75-year history of the Fairfax County Police Department that an officer has been charged in connection with an on-duty shooting, The Washington Post reports.
The incident began when Geer’s longtime partner called police on Aug. 29, 2013 to report a domestic dispute. According to the Post, Maura Harrington told the 911 dispatcher that Geer had guns in the home. Torres told detectives that when he arrived at the home with another officer, Geer showed them a holstered handgun and declared he would use it if needed.
From The Washington Post:
Torres then scrambled behind a tree in the front yard and aimed his gun at Geer from 17 feet away, according to the report. Neil also pulled his gun but aimed it at the ground. Geer soon placed his weapon on the ground, and the officers told investigators that they did not see it again during the course of encounter. Officer Rodney Barnes, who was a trained negotiator, arrived on the scene and relieved Neil. He began talking with Geer and later told detectives that he felt Geer was comfortable with him.
As they spoke, Geer stood with his hands resting on top of a storm door, but officers said he refused Barnes’s requests to come out of the house. Geer repeatedly asked Torres to lower his weapon. Officers said that Torres would comply but that Torres would raise it again when Geer periodically asked to scratch his nose. Neil radioed to colleagues that Geer had said he wanted to take his own life, and “he might do a suicide-by-cop type of situation.”
At 3:34 p.m. as Barnes continued to negotiate with Geer, Torres fired one shot at Geer without warning, surprising the other officers, they told investigators. Geer retreated inside the home, and the police report states Torres told Barnes, “I’m sorry.”
Torres has since been terminated. When asked how he felt about the decision, Geer’s father said it was “unfortunate” that the family had to wait so long for justice.
In Georgia, two former officers have also been charged in the 2014 death of a man they stunned with a Taser while handcuffed.
Gregory Lewis Towns, Jr. was reportedly stunned several times by Marcus Eberhart and Howard Weems Jr. as he lay handcuffed after a short chase. His death was ruled a homicide by a medical examiner.
According to WFSB:
Police responded to an apartment complex in Atlanta after reports of a domestic dispute involving Towns. Police said when officers arrived, Towns ran into the woods but did not get very far. Records show police found Towns, who weighed 281 lbs., sitting on the ground and catching his breath, after a chase of less than a mile, and he asked officers at least 10 times to be allowed to rest before going with them.
According to the suit and logs from the Tasers, the devices were activated 14 times over the following 29 minutes with the two officers pressing the electrified prongs against Towns’ skin.
The former officers were indicted on charges of murder, manslaughter, and “violation of oath by a public officer” in the death of the 24-year-old, WFSB reports. Both are no longer employed with the East Point Police Department.
Don’t Miss Our Hottest Stories! Get The NewsOne Flip App for iPhone: Flip, Skip — Or Send Us a Tip!