FAIRFAX, Va. --A former Fairfax Countypolice officer accused of fatally shooting a man who had his hands up during a 2013 standoff pleaded guilty Monday to involuntary manslaughter, prosecutors said.
The prosecutors noted the former officer was angry about the breakup of his marriage and unfit for duty when he responded to a domestic dispute.
Adam Torres, 33, struck the plea bargain just before his murder trial was scheduled to begin in Fairfax, nearly three years after Torres shot and killed John Geer, 46, of Springfield.
Torres spoke very briefly at the end of the hearing, saying, "I am truly sorry ... There are no words I can say to adequately express my remorse."
Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh said he agreed to the plea, in part, to spare Geer's daughters from testifying. He said that while Geer's longtime partner, Maura Harrington, supports the plea bargain, Geer's mother does not.
The plea calls for Torres to serve a 12-month sentence. Sentencing is set for June. The judge accepted the deal, but reserved the right to reject it after he reviews a presentence report.
Torres was unfit for duty after fighting with his wife when he was called to Geer's home, prosecutors said. He's accused of shooting Geer after a 40-minute standoff. Torres has said he thought Geer was dropping his hands and might be reaching for a nearby handgun.
While Geer was killed in 2013, Torres was not indicted until 2015. The two-year delay led to allegations that Fairfax County was stonewalling the investigation. The prosecutor said the county's own lawyers refused to provide internal police documents he needed to conduct his investigation. A lawsuit and an inquiry from Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, prodded the county to relent.
At a pretrial hearing last month, defense attorneys sought to suppress numerous statements Torres made to other officers before and after the shooting about his anger over his marriage and his concerns that his wife was cheating on him. On three different days in the year leading up to the shooting, either Torres or his supervisors decided he was emotionally unfit to work because of his distress over his marital woes, prosecutor Robert McClain said.
Defense lawyers argued that the statements were irrelevant, unfairly prejudicial to their client, and should not be used against him because he felt compelled to speak to supervisors to keep his job. Prosecutors said the statements were relevant to establish Torres' state of mind, and said Torres made the statements voluntarily.
Judge Robert Smith ruled that the statements made immediately after the shooting and in the days after are admissible, but the September 2012 discussions with his supervisor were not.