Seeking Justice For Police Negligence

Back in January, I wrote about the case of Salvatore Culosi, a Fairfax, Virginia man who was shot to death by police sent to arrest him in connection with an alleged illegal gambling operation. Today, Culosi’s parents filed a lawsuit against Fairfax County and several police officers in connection with Culosi’s death:

The parents of Salvatore Culosi, who was shot to death last year by a Fairfax County tactical officer, filed a federal lawsuit yesterday against the county, the police chief and the officer, alleging that police exercised gross negligence by using deadly force to arrest a suspected sports gambler.

Because, of course, there’s no greater threat to public safety than a guy who will give you 3-1 odds on the Wizards.

And, for those who have forgotten, here’s how this particular outrage went down:

On Jan. 24, 2006, police moved to arrest Culosi. A decision was made to use the tactical, or SWAT, team to detain Culosi while his apartment was searched. Bullock, 41, was one of two officers assigned to arrest Culosi while he met with the detective outside his apartment. Other officers were to handle the search.

According to a report issued by Rohrer in January, Bullock bounded out of his sport-utility vehicle, which was parked behind the detective’s, and pulled his .45-caliber pistol out of its holster. But his door “bounced back and jarred him,” Rohrer wrote, “causing him to lose his balance.”

Bullock fired one round into Culosi’s chest, killing him almost immediately. Culosi was not armed.

Rohrer’s public report said that using a SWAT team in such a low-risk case — Culosi never owned a weapon and had no history of violence — was unnecessary, and that police had developed a “comprehensive risk assessment form” to determine when a SWAT team should be used. He also established a Use of Force Review Committee to examine such incidents.

Bullock has not yet been formally disciplined. Rohrer wants to suspend him for three weeks without pay and remove him from the SWAT team, but Bullock appealed to County Executive Anthony H. Griffin, sources familiar with the case said. Griffin has yet to rule, and Bullock remains on administrative duties.

A SWAT team. Against a guy who was brokering bets on sports games. Tell me why this isn’t an outrage.