Justice for Sal

After five years, the family of a Virginia optometrist killed by a SWAT team finally gets some closure.

Last week The Washington Post reported that Sal Culosi's parents have reached a $2 million settlement with Fairfax County, Virginia, police Detective Deval Bullock, who shot and killed the 38-year-old optometrist during a January 2006 SWAT raid on his home. The unusual settlement reflects the outrageous facts of this case, in which an unarmed man suspected of nothing more than betting on sports was recklessly gunned down during an unnecessarily violent operation.

The SWAT team came to Culosi's house because another Fairfax County detective, David Baucum, overheard him and some friends wagering on a college football game at a bar. "To Sal, betting a few bills on the Redskins was a stress reliever, done among friends," a friend of Culosi's told me shortly after his death. "None of us single, successful professionals ever thought that betting 50 bucks or so on the Virginia/Virginia Tech football game was a crime worthy of investigation." Baucum apparently did. After overhearing the wagering, Baucum befriended Culosi. During the next several months he talked Culosi into raising the stakes of what Culosi thought were friendly wagers. Eventually Culosi and Baucum bet more than $2,000 in a single day, enough under Virginia law for police to charge Culosi with running a gambling operation. That's when they brought in the SWAT team.

On the night of January 24, 2006, Baucum called Culosi and arranged a time to drop by to collect his winnings. When Culosi, barefoot and clad in a T-shirt and jeans, stepped out of his house to meet the man he thought was a friend, the SWAT team moved in. Moments later, Bullock, who had had been on duty since 4 a.m. and hadn't slept in 17 hours, killed him. Culosi's last words: "Dude, what are you doing?"

Culosi's parents, Sal and Anita Culosi, later learned that police stopped a nurse at Fairfax Hospital, where Culosi's body was taken after the raid, from notifying them that their son, one of three children, had been shot. (The optometrist's father is also named Salvatore, shortened to Sal, although the son was named after an uncle on his mother's side—ironically, a police officer who was killed in the line of duty.) The Culosis did not hear about the raid until five hours after their son had been shot and killed, preventing the devout Catholic family from administering last rites. 

In the months that followed, Baucum continued his investigation, badgering Culosi's grieving friends and relatives after pulling their names and numbers from the cell phone he was carrying and a computer taken from his home the night he was killed. Steve Gulley, Culosi's brother-in-law, told The Washington Post the following April that Baucum called him and menacingly asked, "How much are you into Sal for?" Scott Lunceford, a lifelong friend of Culosi's, told the Post Baucum called him and accused him of being a gambler. The calls, Gulley told the paper, smacked of intimidation aimed at discouraging a lawsuit.

Police departments in Northern Virginia are notoriously stingy with information, and the Culosis grew increasingly frustrated with Fairfax County Police Chief David Rohrer. The public did not even learn Bullock's name until The Washington Post's Tom Jackman reported it based on a tip from a confidential source. (The Fairfax County Police Department still has not released the name of the police officer who shot unarmed motorist David Masters in November 2009.) It took more than a year for the police department to issue its report (PDF) on Culosi's death. The report, prepared by Chief Rohrer's staff, claimed Bullock accidentally fired his gun—resulting in a direct hit that pierced Culosi's heart—after the door to Bullock's SUV recoiled and struck him in the arm as he was getting out of the vehicle. The report did at least acknowledge that Bullock inappropriately had his finger on the trigger of his weapon. It also conceded that in hindsight sending a SWAT team after an unarmed man accused of a nonviolent crime probably was a mistake, although it did not fault the department for doing so.

The Culosis were dubious. They believed Bullock mistook the cell phone their son was holding the night he was shot for a gun. They hired their own investigators, who determined, based on the department's own measurements of the crime scene, that when Bullock pulled the trigger he was away from his vehicle and much closer to Culosi than he had claimed. Using the recorded locations of shell casings, police vehicles, and Culosi's body, they produced computer animations (see below) showing that the incident could not have happened in the manner described by Chief Rohrer's report.

Bullock was suspended for three weeks without pay, a paltry punishment given that he killed an unarmed man. Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert Horan announced in March 2006 that he would not be filing criminal charges against Bullock. That was not surprising. Horan, who retired in 2008, had never brought criminal charges against a police officer in his 40 years on the job. Horan described the shooting as an accident. Yet the same month that Bullock killed Culosi, a 19-year-old man in neighboring Prince William County was charged with involuntary manslaughter after a gun he was showing to a friend accidentally discharged and killed the friend. And just a week before Horan cleared Bullock, a youth in Chesapeake, Virginia, was convicted on the same charge for accidentally firing a gun from the backseat of a car, killing the driver.

Bullock's colleagues on the police force nevertheless criticized what they called an excessively harsh punishment. Officer Marshall Thielen, president of the Fairfax County police officers union, told The Washington Post the punishment "may be politically motivated because of all the media attention." Union attorney Edward J. Nuttall told the paper that the suspension was "way off the charts" and that an oral or written reprimand would have been more appropriate.

Shortly after the release of Rohrer's report, Sal and Anita Culosi filed a federal lawsuit against Bullock, Rohrer, and Fairfax County, charging that Bullock had violated Culosi's civil rights and that Rohrer and Fairfax County were negligent in training and had implemented bad policies that resulted in Culosi's death. The courts eventually removed Rohrer and Fairfax County from the lawsuit—a tough blow because the Culosis told me one of their main goals was to change the way Fairfax County uses its SWAT team. They could not comprehend why an optometrist with no criminal record who was accused of gambling on football games would merit a SWAT team. According to Rohrer's report, 46 percent of all search warrants in the county are served with SWAT teams. (A department spokesperson said shortly after the shooting that SWAT teams were used to serve all of the county’s warrants.) The removal of Rohrer and Fairfax County from the suit left only Bullock, although all of his legal fees and any judgment against him would be paid by Fairfax County and therefore by taxpayers. 

The same year Fairfax County taxpayers paid for the five-month-long investigation into Sal Culosi’s casual wagering, Virginia's government spent $20 million promoting the state lottery. In March 2006, two months after its ridiculous gambling investigation resulted in the death of an unarmed man, the Fairfax County Police Department issued a press release (no longer available on the department's website) warning residents not to participate in office betting pools tied to the NCAA men's basketball tournament. The title: "Illegal Gambling Not Worth the Risk."

In a heartbreaking entry on a website she set up for her son, Anita Culosi addressed him directly last week:

I'll beg your forgiveness Son…because I am not able…to go the distance. They call it…settlement. I call it something else…and because of that…my heart…is not settled…and my hope for justice…and my promise to you…have both been compromised...I believe in my heart that we would have won in court but I was told to consider the risk of that not happening...Our family has already been through almost 5 years of pain, frustration, disappointments, and stress...and there was the opinion that even if we won the county would appeal and that would mean a few more years and resources fighting what could still be a losing battle.

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  • Suki||

    Good morning Radley!

  • Restoras||

    It would be interesting to see a compilation of statistics on these events. It certainly seems that their frequency has been increasing. Does it indicate a relentless trend towards a de facto police state?

    Fairfax county is lucky to have gotten off with only a $2 million settlement.

  • ||

    Cato had one a year or so back, based on Radley's work.

    Unfortunately, my web-fu isn't good enough to find it.

  • omg||

    http://www.cato.org/raidmap/

    And lo, the raidmap descended from the heavens, and fascist pigs everywhere cowered; for they were afraid.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    That map doesn't even scratch the surface. There are some incidents listed here that aren't marked on the map:

    www.swatreform.org/cases.shtml

  • ||

    The taxpayers fork over two million bucks, and the perps get off scot-free.

    -jcr

  • Realist||

    So sad....so true.

  • Kristen||

    I'm a Fairfax County taxpayer, and I had hoped for a larger settlement.

  • Taylor Brown||

    America in a nutshell

  • gluxamosis||

    Radley, please, for the love of the Hindu-floaty thing . . . stop! This sort of news makes me want to say things that have to do with pig roasts and wild-boar hunts, etc.

  • Tom||

    Hindu-floaty thing

    Nice reference to one of the most inane scenes in cinema history, which also happens to demonstrate the ignorance and arbitrary, inconsistent values of environmentalists.

  • Joe M||

    RAGE!

  • ||

    Every time you hear someone smear libertarianism as being impractical, remember that "practical" is when they send in a SWAT team because someone was collecting on a football bet.

  • The Mossy Spaniard||

    This.

  • ||

    What makes it even goofier is that this is the kind of scenario they claim will occur if the government doesn't have a monopoly on violence.

  • WasabiPeas||

    when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

  • Thomas Paine||

    I said that

  • Old Mexican||

    Honestly, reading about this case brought tears to my eyes. A family lost a son in what I see is a senseless murder, yet all the family could obtain as closesure was a measly $2 million (and that came from their taxes as well as their neighbors'.)

    A man, a life, a productive member of society was EXECUTED for using his OWN MONEY in a high-risk bet. He didn't commit murder or destroyed someone's property or otherwise abridged someone else's rights, he was exercising his OWN rights as a free person, and received a swift DEATH SENTENCE, with no trial, for it. That's the bottom line.

  • theunknown||

    I agree. It was his choice and he was killed for it.

  • John Boehner||

    "reading about this case brought tears to my eyes"

    Me too!

  • Realist||

    Well said.

  • Dave||

    Well said. He didn't even commit any real crime - only a crime in the mind of the murdering fascist hypocrites in government.

    At the same time the government murders somebody for their basic right to gamble their own money, it's running its own gambling operation.

    No better than the mafia.

    And the murderers get off scot-free while taxpayers pay the settlement - a measly settlement for such a horrific crime.

    Excuse me, while I vomit.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Uhm... it's okay because of uhm... social contract or something?

  • ||

    I agree, and want to scream. And did you know that when this cop goes before his pension board he will say that because of this shooting he has not slept well since and therefore the board will likely add 25% onto his retirement for "traumatic disability". This is the truth , they do it every day..

  • ||

    Don't forget, he wasn't betting $2,000 on football until after a five-month investigation where the undercover officer needled him into breaking the law. Equivalent to going to the store to buy cigs, only to have an undercover officer harass you until you buy some pot.

  • omg||

    Baucum apparently did. After overhearing the wagering, Baucum befriended Culosi. During the next several months he talked Culosi into raising the stakes of what Culosi thought were friendly wagers.

    So wait, how is this not entrapment?

  • ||

    A New Professional did it. Ergo, it is not entrapment.

  • ||

    because the gambling was on-going & pre-dated the police involvement.

  • ||

    One can only hope that OhioOrrin is soon befriended by a cop himself.

  • ||

    The troll's right. The bust was legal. Which just illustrates that there is a difference in many cases between what's legal and what's right.

  • ||

    I don't think he was trolling... what he stated was a fact of our criminal justice system.

    I, however, disagree with the way the system works and I do think that it is entrapment, because he may never have engaged in such a high risk bet had he not been goaded into it by the LEO.

  • Zeb||

    OhioOrrin is always trolling.

  • LarryA||

    Agree reluctantly.

    If a Leo observes a crime he should arrest the offender, and the offender should face whatever punishment is appropriate.

    If an officer fails to arrest for a minor violation simply so he can entice the offender into a more serious violation not only should that be entrapment, but the officer should be charged with participating in whatever offenses are committed in the process.

    “I’m going to sucker this perp into making a $2K bet so we can really screw him” is total crap.

  • Joe M||

    Well, yeah, I mean, how fucked in the head do you have to be that you "befriend" someone for the sole purpose of eventually putting them in jail for a crime which you intend to entice them to commit?

    Like, dude, get a fuckin' hobby.

  • ||

    fucked in the head enough to want to be a pig in the first place...

    y

  • ||

    Hey, there are a lot of good/great/brave/heroic cops out there. This slime bucket and the ones that supported him deserve your calumny. Leave other LEOs out of it with your put down.

  • QuietDesperation||

    Are there? I had a couple friends who were cops years ago. They quit after just a couple years because they couldn't stand working in "a sea of abusive douchebags" as one put it. Sometimes I'd go with them to shoot pool and hang at the local cop bar, so I saw a lot of these guys. I'd put the "power mad fuckhead" rate at about 80% based on the endless stories of people they committed abuses against.

  • some guy||

    Apparently his hobby, like most authoritarians, is creating problems to solve.

  • cynical||

    "Eventually Culosi and Baucum bet more than $2,000 in a single day, enough under Virginia law for police to charge Culosi with running a gambling operation."

    It seems to suggest that what he was doing was not illegal before the cop got involved, or at least was not the same crime.

  • theunknown||

    Lets play weigh the sins. He was gambling which is a sin in the bible but the police shoot him. That is a much worse sin. The total amount of evil done would have been less if the fuckin police left it alone to begin with.

  • The Mossy Spaniard||

    Analyzing these issues using the concept of sin is something I find myself doing a lot; some people absolutely will not reconsider their opinions unless they hear it that way.

    Scenario A: Guy smokes crack, neglects important things.
    Scenario B: Guy arrests crack smoker, berates him, handles him roughly, costs him additional money and opportunity and brands him for life.

  • ||

    The problem with sin is that earthly governments are not given authority from God to handle such matters. God did so once with Israel, but nowhere else, and even then He actually entered into the agreement, and all of Israel, ALL, agreed.

    In the meantime, governments may handle justice, justice being the protection of people, and property. So if one chooses to gamble, there is no theft happening, no fraud, no harm done to a person and it's of one owns volition then no violation of justice.

  • Realist||

    "The problem with sin is that earthly governments are not given authority from God to handle such matters." What's with all this religious, bible, god bullshit? We do not live in a Theocracy, though that is what the social conservatives want.

  • ||

    The issue was raised. If you read my comment closely enough, you will see that I'm pointing out that the scriptures themselves advocate against a theocracy, and as far as earthly governments go, that those who claim to follow God should understand that libertarianism is that which most closely follows the biblical model for government.

  • Realist||

    That's just wonderful...I'm an atheist.

  • .||

    "What's with all this religious, bible, god bullshit?"

    Libertarianism is a religion.

  • ||

    gambling which is a sin in the bible

    Citation needed.

  • ||

    I was just looking for that myself.

    Not to mention the fact that I don't really care what a bunch of zealots living thousands of years ago thought about it.

  • ||

    Addendum: The word "gambling" or "gaming" (its 16th Century equivalent that would have been used in the KJV) does not appear in the Bible.

    OTOH, there are numerous instances where the main actors "cast lots" to decide an issue.

  • Realist||

    Then why do you have a bible?

  • ||

    Self defense.

    It really blows a believer's mind when an atheist knows the Bible better than the believer. (I prefer the KJV - the poetry is much better than in other translations.)

  • Mensan||

    Most of the athiests that I know (including myself) know the Bible better than most believers. That's why we're athiests.

  • juris imprudent||

    Amen!

  • Irub||

    +1 to this. I am one such atheist myself.

  • Realist||

    Very good.

  • Kristen||

    Me too...I've read the goddamn thing cover-to-cover. My religious Christian friends only read what their priest/preacher quotes in the pulpit.

  • Guest||

    I use one to wipe my ass with

  • LarryA||

    If it's a sin for Sal to gamble, how is it not a sin for Virginia to do so?

  • Dave||

    Exactly, how the fuck can anyone justify limiting the right of people to gamble while the government runs its own gambling operation? Even the anti-gambling fascists should choke on that hypocrisy. But the mainstream media never seems to give a shit.

  • ||

    Because to them, the lottery isn't "gambling". Because when you have a numbers racket administered by the state, it somehow magically becomes OK, even though it is the shittiest odds of all time and is essentially a tax on stupid people.

    If a private company was given the right to administer the lottery, and even gave better odds, these same people would be screaming bloody murder about it.

    They're not logical, they worship the state, and that's not going to change, unfortunately.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    For the same reason a cop negligently shooting an unarmed harmless man isn't murder, or at least manslaughter? The two seem related, somehow.

  • ||

    Eh...

    The same way you can justify taxation while calling civilian thieves criminals.

    Nothing that is immoral for civilians, is immoral for the government so long as they get money out of it.

    It is called "euphemism".

  • CatoTheElder||

    If the State can absolve the sin of murder, it can absolve any sin.

    And the State absolves murder every day.

  • Kristen||

    Becuz teh lotteriez is for teh childrenz!

  • Realist||

    "He was gambling which is a sin in the bible but the police shoot him." What the fuck are they, bible police?

  • ||

    You need to actually read the Bible. Nowhere does it say gambling is a sin. At least read Acts 1.26 and then tell us how the replacement apostle for Judas was chosen.

  • hmm||

    Kinda makes you scared to take new friends and question the relationship you may have with friends that are officers.

    Personally I don't even trust the cops bound to me by oath, be that oath of marriage or fraternal oath, and that's pretty sad. I've gotten to the point where I don't even trust people I've known almost 20 years that are cops.

  • hmm||

    I've probably said it here before, but I avoid cops at the gun club like the plague. I'm cordial, but that's it. No playing with my guns, no looking at my weapons, and definitely no discussion of what I own or where I live.

    And here I thought I was being paranoid.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I know an jail guard, but have known him since we were kids. Short of that, I would not trust a cop.

    Of course, I don't think that guy identified himself as a cop to Mr. Culosi.

  • hmm||

    I've got a friend I've known 15 plus years and I wouldn't be comfortable talking about a lot of things given the recent bullshit with cops and him being a cop.

  • JB||

    Cops are some of the biggest criminals out there...much worse than your average Joe.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I wouldn't voluntarily allow a pig anywhere near my home, my place of business, my vehicle, my kids, my friends, my financial transactions, my entertainment, or my conversations.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    And remember- cops can be anyone. Your bank teller, your librarian, your friend, your kid's teacher, your kid, your trusted drug dealer/client, your resident assistant, the human resources department at work, the guy selling Starter jackets on the street.

  • Guy selling Starter jackets||

    Cabron! Why you gotta blow up my spot?

  • ||

    Wait, those puffy starter jackets still exist?

  • Kristen||

    I had a friend who became a cop. She's still on my Facebook page, but I no longer socialize with her. When she put on that uniform, she was no longer worthy of my trust. Oh, and she's an active drunk.

  • ||

    Bullock was suspended for three weeks without pay,

    So the killer cop is still roaming the streets, armed, armored with sovereign immunity, and backed up by a complicit justice system?

    Hope you feel safer, Fairfaxers!

  • ||

    Fairfax county is infected by it's proximity to DC.

  • BakedPenguin||

    So is Prince George's County.

  • ||

    Federal Courts is usually a dry topic, but the unit on sovereign immunity bothered me because I regularly read these types of stories. Cops and prosecutors should be held to a higher standard than citizens when it comes to obeying the law.

  • ||

    Bullock was suspended for three weeks without pay,

    OMG! Such horrible punishment! I bet he just hated sitting on the beach.

  • the right does it too||

    This filthy swine should be tracked down like a mad dog and hounded relentlessly until he either moves or commits suicide. Preferably the later.

  • ||

    Today's Daily Brickbat has an interesting contrast coming out of Australia:

    http://reason.com/brickbat/2011/01/17/a-day-at-the-beach

    Looks like Aussies aren't badgelickers.

  • ||

    Based on it's history, Australia probably has a pretty negative opinion of law enforcement.

  • ||

    Unfortunately Australia also has a negative opinion of self-defense these days

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Whats the difference between the revenuers and thugs who would rob the guy knowing he has about 2k cash in the house?

    Toughest mob there is.

  • Imp of the Perverse||

    Well I suppose we can call it official. The badge is a license to murder scot-free.

  • hmm||

    I don't know what the squirrels did to this site, but if they don't start addressing the epic load times I'm going to open squirrel season early.

    And yes I'm a crazy gun nut with a semi-auto shotgun named The Squirrelmatic with a high capacity "clip."

  • hmm||

    fuck it's even slow in Chrome.

  • ||

    So, how long was this site just down? (And dammit, it took my rather pithy comment with it...)

  • Amakudari||

    It's the fucking Twitter API calls that are doing it (like 95% sure). That's what causes the epic load times for H&R but not the home page or the individual articles.

  • hmm||

    Reason, contract this man to fix your shit. Shoot one squirrel and hang his carcass at the entrance as an example.

  • omg||

    Holy shit you're right. I was having the slow-ass load times as well, but I checked my script blocker and realized that twitter.com was allowed for some reason. Now twitter is safely blocked and my load times are normal again.

  • ||

    All I can say is this.

    If this had been my son, Bullock would already be dead. What was done was murder. The fact that a rogue police officer in a rogue police department makes it worse not better. A pattern rather than an isolated case.

  • ||

    "Our family has already been through almost 5 years of pain, frustration, disappointments, and stress...and there was the opinion that even if we won the county would appeal and that would mean a few more years and resources fighting what could still be a losing battle."

    And that's the name of the game, citizens.. a safe bet with insurance by the government paid by taxpayers that you'll fold instead of upping the ante..

  • Sal Paradise||

    Nice try, Balko. I always wear a cup on MLK Day.

  • ||

    I got a firefox addon that slips a cup into my pants whenever I load reason.com.

  • ||

    We have checks and balances for each branch of government, except the police and prosecutors have no checks, and work with prosecutorial immunity most of the time.
    We need a check for them, individuals do not have the resources to fight the state or get justice, this settlement is one of the best you ever hear of. Usually the people just give up under the constant badgering of police harassment for years.

  • Dave||

    Yes, one of the best settlements and still total crap.

    The settlement should have been in the tens of millions AND paid personally by the shooter, the police chief and anybody else implicated in this horrific crime. And that's not all. The shooter, police chief and anybody else responsible for the policies allowing this to happen should be fired and criminally charged and punished.

    That would be real justice. But in this corrupt fascist society, it won't happen.

  • Atanarjuat||

    I wonder if Officer Douchebag feels any remorse for killing the man he pretended to befriend. Probably not given the way he badgered the deceased's family.

  • Atanarjuat||

    Furthermore, how is he seen around the police station? Does the accidental murder give him a macabre credential among the other tuff-guys who haven't killed and people or pets yet, or is he (rightly, IMO) seen as a clumsy fool who shouldn't be trusted around firearms?

  • Atanarjuat||

    and => any

  • omg||

    Well, I believe there were 2 different people here(Baucum and Bullock), one of them befriended/entrapped the hapless victim, and the other was an insomniac lunatic who kills 'em all and lets Gahwd sort 'em out.

    I would like to hear their own opinions about how they handled the situation, though. See if they actually think it was a good idea for them to entrap and shoot an unarmed man...

  • the right does it too||

    Of course they would say it's alright. They DID it already. They are pigs...'nuff said.

  • ||

    Hey, c'mon. Gambling? Salvatore Culosi? Do the math. You know the guy was mobbed up.

  • BakedPenguin||

    The whole 4 years pre-med, 4 years in optometry school, the 20 years of optometry practice, all of it, just a clever front.

  • ||

    You think the mob don't need spectacles, huh, wise guy?

  • sevo||

    Where's the Pulitzer-Prize winning cartoonist commenting on this.
    I can easily see a machine gun labeled DEA or SWAT TEAM firing randomly into a crowd.
    C'mon, Benson! How about some honesty for change?

  • ||

    as if we dont have enought rightwing violence already

  • You really are||

    an ignorant fool.

  • ||

    PROVE THAT.

    Fucken dumbass liberals. As more comes out about Loughner, the less clothes they have on.

  • Realist||

    Fuckin' dumbass liberals.

  • sevo||

    "as if we dont have enought rightwing violence already"

    I presume a brain-dead lefty would somehow see this as applicable.

  • cynical||

    What? How can you advocate anti-government rhetoric at a time like this? What if some crazy person decided to personally whack the murderous police officer and some of his buddies?

    Besides, when the State kills, that's part of the plan. When loonies kill members of the State, that's when everyone panics.

  • Apogee||

    When loonies kill members of the State, that's when everyone panics.

    Not everyone, just those who get their paycheck from the State. One thing's for sure, based on the coverage, it's definitely not about the 'humanity'.

  • ||

    Culosi's last words: "Dude, what are you doing?"

    That shit sends chills down my spine. Unforgivable.

  • ||

    So.

    When do we start to blame Palin?

  • ||

    I think you're looking for another thread dude, this one has nothing to do with Tucson.

  • ||

    There's no such thing as the wrong thread from blaming Sarah Palin.

  • ||

    Bingo.

  • ||

    It sure doesn't feel like justice for Sal to me...

  • ||

    Thanks Radley, for staying on this...

  • Lucy||

    Radley Balko -- because not even your nonexistent lady balls should go unpunched.

  • Zeb||

    I am certainly not advocating that anyone take matters into their own hands, but these assholes, both the guy who investigated him and the one who shot him deserve death as much as anyone does. If there is going to be a death penalty in VA, it should be specially reserved for people like this who are supposedly working to protect people.

  • the right does it too||

    It is way past time for us to rein in these filthy freakin' swine.

  • Mike M.||

    I wonder what authoritarian government-worshipping douchebags like Frank Rich think about incidents like this one, if they even bother to think about them at all.

  • Denial||

    What am I, a big river in Egypt?

  • Apogee||

    Now how exactly would Frank Rich profit from writing about something like this? At least without a Republican in the WH?

    You don't really think the guy gives a shit about injustice, do you?

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    "Justice for Sal"?? That's really the title of this column?? For most people going through what the Culosis went through, justice (or "closure") would only come with seeing their sons murderers sent to prison for armed home invasion and murder.

  • ||

    RTFA, yo.

    "Shortly after Sal Culosi's death, his family started a blog in his memory called 'Justice for Sal.' After five years of battling stubborn public officials, an obfuscatory police bureaucracy, and a legal system designed to make it as difficult as possible to hold the government accountable, Sal and Anita Culosi should finally allow themselves to exhale. As much as anyone can in a case like this, they have found the justice they've been seeking."

    The article title is a reference to the name of the blog started by Sal's parents. Sheesh.

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    I read it, sport.

    Obviously Sal's parents coined the name for their blog well before they realized that there'd be no one held accountable for their son's murder. And sure, it was an appropriate name for their blog, given what they were chronicling over the course of five long, painful years.

    But now that the case has been adjudicated--and hardly in a way that could be considered "just"--I think it's an entirely inappropriate title for the article.

  • ||

    1. Family starts site seeking justice
    2. Family does not recieve justice
    3. You get nutpunched even harder because of the unrequited justice of the situation.

    Conclusion: Entirely Appropriate Title

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    Ah, so you believe Balko was ladling on the irony here. Okay, I can go with that!

  • Apogee||

    Balko doesn't use a ladle, he uses a pneumatic hammer.

  • ICP||

    Irony, how does it work?

  • ICP||

    Bah, beat me to it.

  • James Solbakken||

    Never ever forget, it was the pigs who killed Jesus Christ, after they mocked Him, and beat Him, and crowned Him with thorns.
    It's just the way pigs are, everywhere all the time.
    The problem with pigs is not that they are willing to murder the only begotten Son of God, that's who and what they are as individual creeps. The problem is an imperious system that wants their pigs to murder the Son of God and everybody else who gets in their way.

  • Imp of the Perverse||

    Um, I'm pretty sure that your Jesus fella wanted the Roman cops to kill him. Otherwise, he could have just changed all their bodily fluids into tang, or sambuca, or something. He could turn any liquid into any sort of beverage. He was cool like that.

  • ||

    Blood libel!!!

    Nah just kidding that sounds about right.

  • robc||

    The report did at least acknowledge that Bullock inappropriately had his finger on the trigger of his weapon.

    Ive said this before but worth repeating. Anyone who has had any gun training whatsoever knows that you only put your finger on the trigger as a prelude to pulling it.

    Finger on trigger == Intent to fire immediately.

    Period. End of story.

  • ||

    "Inappropriately", eh?

    What about "negligently"? Or even "wrongfully"?

  • Apogee||

    Or how about "intentionally"?

  • robc||

    Im with Apogee.

    I dont think it qualifies as negligently.

  • TallDave||

    "He's an optometrist! Get him!"

  • BoscoH||

    The way the officer started his investigation sounds like a bad salesman surfing fishbowls at lunch spots for business card leads. Just terrible.

  • MT||

    I've heard these thoughts echoed around here before, so I'm sure I'm not the only one here.

    I'm not usually the paranoid type, but as homeowner and a gun owner, this type of news legitimately scares me.

    I can't really put it into words. I mean, police breaking into people's homes in the middle of the night. Or even in the middle of the day? getting killed, even when unarmed.

    How does this bode for us that do have home defense weapons? I know if I hear a crash in the night I will have my shotgun out. How do I know the cops won't shoot first and ask questions later?

    it's a sad day when a man has to question protecting his own property and family, all because the very real possibility that he will be killed by policemen.

    Stories like this one in particular really drive it home. Do you think you're innocent? perhaps not in the eyes of certain cops with shaky practices. Even if you are completely innocent and the cops aren't looking into you, you still aren't safe. Just look at all of the innocent bystanders who's castles have been wrongly invaded.

    It really is a frightening prospect.

  • sevo||

    "How does this bode for us that do have home defense weapons? I know if I hear a crash in the night I will have my shotgun out."

    If Balko's reporting is any guide, the only difference is that the cops will be able to claim the deceased was armed.

  • ||

    Put in your terms, about the only thing you can hope for is to take a couple of the fuckers with you.

  • John Smith||

    This story enraged me.
    And nowadays it's so common in the the U.S.
    It's a shame the government is unable to deal with this.
    Seems they don't realize that the general police force is from a low level quality, to say the least

    I live in the Philippines.
    Corruption and terrorists all around.
    But: DON'T BELIEVE YOUR GOVERNMENT WARNINGS: nobody will bother you, if you avoid the crisis areas.
    The same as you avoid some areas in New York during dark hours.
    The common Filipino is not interested in any politics, fuck, they have to make a living, that's all what counts.
    And I feel so safe in this country, I cross the whole country and don't see a camera to spy on my. Delicious.
    Don't have a home defense weapon because my wife is a bit hot tempered, and killing someone gonna cost at least a 1000 dollars to prevent the relatives from filing a case.
    My brother in law (drunk/drugs bastard) killed his neighbor and that cost my some 400 US$ to keep him out of jail.(pretty cheap anyway)
    Only thing I have is a very heavy knife, capable of severing the head of someone's body in one blow, but unluckily nobody tried to burglar my home. Pity.
    The area I live in got a lot of NPA members.
    Some communists that lost their way during the last 30 years or so.
    Terrorist according to the U.S. state department. (probably because they use fart in the swimming pool.)
    But the real reason is poverty: if you have nothing to loose, what's the value of your live? That's the issue.
    But the state department doesn't understand that. (I'm sure they read this, so put it in your pocket, assholes, policemen of the world, your days are over, China is the new superpower)
    The great thing is that the local police is very careful in what they do.
    If there is a rotten apple the NPA will deal with it.
    Same with businesses that treat their personnel badly.
    The live expectancy of Mr. Bullock or Mr. Rohrer? Maybe 3 days.
    Mr. Horan? A green stone in the cemetery dated a long time ago.
    And, believe it or not, it's the most safe part of the country.
    No robberies, no police brutality, no drugs problems (NPA doesn't like drugs, they warn dealers to stop, otherwise they kill them)
    In other parts of the country the NPA behaves more questionable, but here it's fine.
    And: here I can tell a guy with a big gun on a roadblock:"fuck you, I'm tired being stopped every 50 kilometers."
    Reply: "Sorry, I'm only doing what I'm told to do, I don't like it myself."
    Lovely.

  • Sean Mack||

    Just for an extra touch of madness, I'd like to mention that Fairfax Virginia was featured as a positive example in a (very dull) textbook called "Character and Cops: Ethics in Policing".

  • David||

    A whole host of things don't really add up here.

    Why is ineptitude at safe handling of a weapon somehow less blameworthy than a bad call in the dark as to whether something's a gun? That is, what on earth was the *motivation* behind the coverup?

    Anyway - presuming the facts are as presented here, it seems plain to me that the primary blame lies with Baucam, not Bullock. Bullock made a mistake, but as his job required him to be armed and making this kind of judgement in a split second; with far more opportunities to make a mistake there's only so far we can hold such a mistake against him. Baucam's decisions, made with time to consider them, are far more blameworthy. The situation, to begin with, seems likely to have been entrapment; that coupled with his ridiculous escalation led to someone getting shot. That should be grounds for an involuntary manslaughter charge, at least.

    Again, this is assuming the evidence actually supports the version presented here.

  • JB||

    At what point is someone going to open up on a police car and claim preemptive self-defense?

    You would have at least a few hundred cases to cite that an armed police officer represents a clear and present danger to your well-being.

  • Cyto||

    There's plenty of evidence that even with a video of the shooting the po-po would still operate with impunity. In their world claiming that one of them yelled "police" one time on the front porch at midnight is proof that you knew the guy kicking your door in was a cop. And the courts will back them up on it too.

  • David||

    It's certainly a strange world, where criminals are incapable of shouting "police!" That's not exactly a credential that's hard to forge...

  • ||

    http://www.123helpme.com/assets/9704.html

    Check it out, it encapsulates all I've got to say...

  • ||

    You sly devil you. I'm sure everyone falls for that trick at least a few times.

  • Moi||

    Tell me again why I shouldn't dance naked in my yard anytime a cop gets killed in the line of duty? Tell me again why I should be expected to have more respect for these criminals than I do for the most worthless amoungst us?

    It really it to late IMO. Nothing short of full fledged purging of these people will make any difference. They have become so entrenched and good at covering their asses we need to just be rid of their asses once and for all.

  • ||

    Cop kept his job and no charges were filed. They are a different class of people, not subject to the same laws as the rest of you. Now get back to your NFL games and your American Idiot episodes, sheep.

  • josh||

    honestly, if it were my son, i'd have killed the bastard cop that killed him and the other bastard cop that started the whole thing. it would be delicious

  • Morte||

    Some freedoms they have in Virginia....they can't even gamble?

    Fear and control.

  • I wonder||

    So, who won the bet? I would guess it was Sal. Otherwise, the officer would have taken the money and ran.

  • ||

    This.is so fucking wrong this infuriates me fucking facist pigs

  • ||

    The cop needs to take a lethal injection.

  • ||

    That's too nice, he should be strapped in the electric chair and fried extra crispy.

  • ||

    This kind of dirty politics is done intentionally to make the police look bad to the public. There are bad cops but allowing them to get away with crimes like this is a great way to sell the message they're all bad. It's all part of a real agenda to rob people of justice.

  • ugginstock||

    OMG...

  • QuietDesperation||

    You can't go kill them yourselves, you folks saying that. Besides, it's better to at try and make them suffer.

    I'd set it up so Officer Killer and Officer Entrapment received little packages at random every few months, and definitely every Christmas. Little items (like from the "Things Remembered" shops) with "Sal" engraved on them.

    Wherever they lived for the rest of their lives, there would be billboards with Sal's picture and the words "Sal, murdered in cold blood on January 24, 2006. Find out why." and a URL to learn the story.

    Make it follow them for the rest of their lives. If one or both happens to kill themselves, oh well. Hey, suicide rate amongst cops is high, isn't it, or is that urban myth? At the very least some news outlet will pick up on it and it becomes a global news story, and these guys are identified for the world and all of history as miseryshits.

    Revenge served cold and all that. Death is too easy. Make their lives misery.

  • QuietDesperation||

    Too bad this wasn't in Los Angeles. Here they paid out $2 million to a fireman who got tricked into eating a little dog food by his coworkers (after he himself pulled far worse pranks on them for years). Based on that scale, the L.A. city council would probably settle for $850 billion.

  • Oregon Scott||

    This is one of the few areas where it makes sense for the federal government to have some power to prosecute people based on their actions within a state. I understand that this power was first "granted" because of civil rights abuses by police departments in the first place.

    As the saying goes, "It's not the crime. It's the cover-up." I think the FBI should launch an investigation into the investigation. For the official report to be that inconsistent with the evidence, somebody probably lied.

    Scott

  • ||

    2 million could go along way to being the next county commisioner

  • ||

    I was horrified by this story. First time I have heard anything about it.I am unable to contribute money, but I will spread this story far and wide to every friend, relative and aquaintance. My heart goes out to the family and loved ones of this innocent citizen. Something must be done to get these creepy bullys off of our public payrolls. How is it that this fool managed to pass the psyc exam that all public service agents with a badge must pass before being given a gun? Just plain scary that such tradgies occur all too often.Where will it end? When will it stop? Not until every man woman and child in this country takes action to prevent these psychos from being granted a badge and a gun.

  • ||

    This is horribly disturbing and disgraceful.

    Hmmm, the same county where they have raided bars to arrest people causing no public disturbance and charging them with public intoxication for drinking INSIDE privately owned establishments with no apologies for their heavy handed actions.

    http://www.prisonplanet.com/ba.....nkers.html

  • oscarhong||

    ````````````````````

  • nike running shoes||

    is good

  • Scarpe Nike Italia||

    is good

  • kangzhu||

    This plan has no merit

  • ||

    This is the saddest thing I've ever read :(

  • ||

    I would consider it appropriate for the entire Fairfax County PD to face the death penalty for this case. Along with the prosecutor who covered for them.

  • Jackwagon||

    NEVER trust police. They are mostly made up of the dumbest, sickest people in the country. They get picked for this dangerous career so that they have more of a chance to die and less of a chance to reproduce. I think mass executions are easier.

  • ||

    My friend had a relative (her whole family pretty much disowned him) who was a cop, ran into an elderly couple with his car, and killed them. He's still a cop; sounds like he didn't face any charges other than suspension.

    These people are like Barney Fife, but without the loveable stupidity; replaced with it is a selfish, reckless, and chauvinistic type.

  • Curtis||

    So what about the "befriending" cop who also partook in said bet? Doesn't that constitute a violation of that same law?

    He should be shot in the heart as punishment.

  • ||

    I just found a link to this horrifying story. I'm wondering if it was legal for the officer basically to lead the victim to place higher bets? Sounds like entrapment to me...it was the officer that compelled him to bet higher than he usually did, and I assume Sal would not have upped the stakes that high on his own without the officer talking him into it because he would have done so himself already without needing the officer's suggestion. Shameful that government will protect its own even when its own is so blatantly guilty.

  • L. Patersen||

    During the last couple of years I got the impression that the chance of unarmed individuals being murdered by an on duty police officer in the U.S. is on the rise.
    Most of them even get away with their murders.
    I'm even not surprised anymore, that's a sad thing.

  • alipay||

    good

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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