Press Club

Report: Use of Deadly Force in Officer-Involved Shooting ‘Justified’

Prosecutors will not seek criminal charges against the Arlington County Police officer involved in the fatal shooting in Buckingham in May, concluding his use of deadly force was justified.

According to the complete investigation report, Officer Michael Laird “acted consistent with ACPD policies governing use of force” and his actions were “justifiable and necessary to defend himself and others present.”

The report includes this policy, which says officers can use force to “bring an incident or non-compliant suspect under control… and/or protect the lives or personal safety of themselves or others” so long as the force used is appropriate for the situation.

The deceased was 54-year-old Alfredo Rials-Torres, who was shot three times by police in the apartment he shared with his mother, 87-year-old Alicia Torres.

After investigating the incident, the Commonwealth’s Attorney concluded the victim attacked police officers without reason and he presented an “imminent danger of serious injury or death” to those present at the scene.

On May 19, the day of the shooting, Officer Laird and two other officers responded to a call reporting a domestic disturbance in an apartment building at 4219 2nd Road N.

The caller reported she could hear an elderly woman screaming in some kind of domestic altercation. In a later interview, she recalled hearing Ms. Torres tell her son, “I’m not your girlfriend and I will never have sex with you.”

The officers arrived at the apartment, where Ms. Torres opened the door. Statements from all three officers at the scene describe Rials-Torres coming to the door shortly thereafter, looking visibly angry and verbally aggressive as he told officers he would not speak with them.

Rials-Torres then attempted to close the apartment door, and an altercation ensued as the officers tried to keep it open. Laird said in a statement they “did not want to be locked out of the room with her being stuck in there with him.”

Laird unsuccessfully tried to use his Taser on Rials-Torres, instead striking and incapacitating one of the other officers on the small landing outside the apartment.

As he prepared to try again, Rials-Torres struck Laird in the face with a metal pole, causing a deep laceration from his mouth up his left cheek. Bleeding profusely, Laird was able to push through the door. Rials-Torres was still swinging the pole wildly, the report says.

It was then that Laird fired his service weapon three times, the first round striking Rials-Torres in the arm and the following rounds in the back as he spun around. The autopsy, conducted by a medial examiner named Dr. Jocelyn Posthumus, concluded one of the shots to the victim’s back caused his death.

In interviews after the shooting, Ms. Torres denied arguing with her son, insisted that he had not assaulted officers, but stated that he was schizophrenic and possibly off of his medications.

The 9-1-1 caller recalled previous and recent problems with Rials-Torres acting aggressively. Another neighbor said she heard arguing on the morning of the shooting and cited incidents when the victim would threaten other residents.

Rials-Torres also had a criminal history and was convicted of felony assault and resisting arrest in 1997.

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