Sunday, January 24, 2010

4 Years - Still No Justice For Sal

Four years of hoping and praying, that in that better place, you are happy and resting in peace. Four years that seem like yesterday and forever; at the same time.
Four years that have changed everyone, and everything, in our family. Our lives will never be the same again.

We love you Son, and the promise made to you Four years ago is not forgotten.

We appeared in your behalf, On October 28, 2009 before the 4th Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond. We are still waiting on a decision regarding our Oral Argument, that is petitioning that court to reinstate the County, Police Chief, and Lt. Kellam, back into our civil suit.

I will update this site as I am able…as the waiting continues...and legalities dictate.

May God bless you Sal, and for all the kindness and compassion that has been shown to all of us by friends as well as strangers, may God bless them too.

Sal, Anita and Family

 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

3 Years – Still No Justice for Sal

We are now in the Third Year of the incredible loss of our dearly loved Son and Brother.

From March ’07 when we filed our suit, to the present, we have been pursuing the legal system and keeping our promise to Sal, that in his behalf, we would do all that we could, in seeking the justice owed to him and our family.

Since beginning this legal journey we have had an uphill battle. Shown little concern, or cooperation, we have had to conduct our own investigation because the explanations provided by the FCPD left us with many unanswered questions. We sat through numerous depositions, listening to upsetting and painful accounts of what took place, before and after Sal was shot and killed. With only one witness to the actual moment, and others claiming not to have seen anything, it was and is terribly difficult to believe that it happened the way it was stated.

We have enlisted the expertise of several noted persons in their respective fields. We have appeared in court several times to rebut Defense motions to dismiss our eight counts: four against the County and four against the officer who shot Sal. The four against the County were dismissed by the judge; the four counts against the Officer remain.

At this time all counts are being appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond where we are hoping all appeals will be decided in our favor. We will be waiting on that court’s judgment probably until late spring or early summer, and we have had our trial date stayed pending their decisions.

We apologize to our Son and to all of you…for not keeping this site updated. Our best intentions in posting incremental updates, although they were written by us, somehow never made it to this site, as circumstances distracted us and focused our attention to “legal” matters.

Please continue to remember Sal, keeping him and our family in your prayers as we continue forward in his name.

With Our Gratitude and May God Bless Each of You.

Sal, Anita and Family

 

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Nearly 14 Months and Still No Justice for Sal

Last year on January 24, 2006, our son, Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi was shot and killed by a member of the Fairfax County, Virginia Police SWAT Team while being served with what should have been a routine documents search warrant. Over a year has passed and despite all our efforts, the county continues to refuse to answer our questions. This leaves us no recourse but to pursue truth and accountability through the courts.

Today our attorneys filed a lawsuit against Fairfax County, Police Chief David M. Rohrer and SWAT Officer Deval V. Bullock seeking $12 million damages for improper policies, actions and inactions by the Fairfax County Police Department that led to the unjust shooting death of our son. A copy of the lawsuit is available here and you can also read about it in the statement issued by our attorneys.

How did we get here? Over the last year, our family has tried repeatedly to find out what happened to Sal. We want access to the same information that was available to Commonwealth Attorney Robert Horan, Jr. when he elected not to bring involuntary manslaughter charges against Officer Deval V. Bullock or present the facts to a grand jury to make a determination. We want access to the same information that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is privy to. We want access to the same information available to Chief Rohrer and the Fairfax County Police Internal Affairs Division. We want access to the same information the FBI and the Department of Justice are currently evaluating. Yet despite repeated requests to Fairfax County officials, our family has been denied access to the truth.

Left with no alternative, in early January we sent a “letter of demand” to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors stating our intention to file suit as required by Virginia law. At that point, it was our hope to have meaningful discussions with the county that would keep us out of court. We wanted access to all the information available to the county on what happened to Sal. From that, we hoped to propose - and that Fairfax County Police would adopt - policy changes that would leave a positive legacy from such a senseless tragedy, and would provide the public assurance that adequate preventative steps had been taken so that what happened to Sal, would never happen again to another Fairfax County citizen.

Among the policy changes, we would like to see the establishment of an independent Civilian Review Board; a policy to use SWAT teams only when there is a serious threat of harm; a requirement that any officer who shoots another person in the line of duty immediately be given a blood test for alcohol, drugs and steroids; a policy to record all SWAT team operations on video tape and a policy to immediately notify the family when death occurs - not five hours later, thereby depriving Sal of last rites that would have been provided by his Catholic faith. These are common sense policies, many of which are in place in other communities around the country. Fairfax County should support these same best practices.

But it’s hard to know if these policies are enough without access to the truth and that’s where we came to an impasse. Although the County knows that in good conscience we could never reach any settlement without knowing what happened to our son, the County refused to make that information fully available to us pre-litigation.

Time and again since October of last year, we have not updated this site with the exception of Sal’s Birthday on December 17th, as a courtesy to the County. We waited for one reason or another to get some news from any source that could provide it…we read whatever you read. Throughout January, we also waited in vain while giving the county and the FCPD the time they invariably said they needed to address each of the earlier and more recent requests we made of them including access to the same information that was the basis for Chief Rohrer’s conclusions cited in his January 11, 2007 report. It is clear at this point after all our efforts that the County has no intention of being forthcoming leaving us no recourse but to file suit.

Today we filed suit and our hope is that a jury will hold Fairfax County, Chief Rohrer and Officer Bullock accountable for their unconscionable disregard for Sal’s life, his rights and, by inference, the rights of all Fairfax County citizens. While a jury cannot prescribe policy changes as part of a verdict, they can send a strong message to Fairfax County that they are accountable for their actions and no longer can afford to ignore their fiduciary obligation to provide meaningful oversight over the police department.

We intend to keep a promise made to our beloved son, Salvatore, more than one year ago as we knelt before him on Jan. 30th, the day he was laid to rest and the last time we would be able to kiss him and whisper in his ear…that we will look into those faces that wrongfully robbed him of his future, in such a violent, unnecessary way… costing him and us his life… and we will seek the justice he is owed by them for what they did.

This blog will be used to share the truth with the Citizens of Fairfax County on what happened to our son. At the appropriate times, we will post what we learn and when county officials refuse to honor our inquiries, we will share that too. Armed with the truth, we hope the Citizens of Fairfax County will demand comprehensive police policy reforms that guarantee transparency, accountability and preventative changes to ensure that what happened to Sal and our family, never again happens to any other Fairfax County citizen. Only then will there be Justice for Sal and Justice for all County Citizens.

Please dear friends, continue to monitor this site and support us with your prayers…we deeply appreciate your being there for us in this long and arduous process.

God Bless You.

Sal & Anita

 

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Today is Sal’s Birthday – Still No Justice

Our son, Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi, should have been celebrating his 38th birthday today. Instead of celebrating with him, we mourn his loss. We will be attending a noon mass and receiving communion as our gift to him, then we will go to the cemetery to spend some time visiting his resting place. There will be no blowing out of a candle and making a birthday wish…we have been robbed of our Salvatore. Unless you have buried a child you cannot know our grief and pain, but we are grateful for your continued prayers and support.

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, Tom Jackman at the Washington Post reported that a Fairfax County Police Internal Affairs report recommends that the Officer who unjustly shot and killed Sal be suspended for three weeks without pay and removed from the SWAT team. If this recommendation is true, then the Police Internal Affairs division clearly has no ability to be objective.

The Post did a follow up editorial and our family also responded with a Letter to the Editor of The Post expressing our disbelief that such a lenient punishment would be recommended for killing our son without cause. We urge you to read these articles.

Fairfax County Police Chief David M. Rohrer has the authority to reject the lenient punishment recommended by Internal Affairs, and hold Officer Bullock accountable to higher standards that reflect the severity of unjustly killing a man in a non threatening situation. We call on him to do so, and to raise standards across the board including adopting a policy to only use SWAT teams when there is an imminent threat.

Please join us in emailing Chief Rohrer, Chairman Connolly and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Tell them it’s time to show leadership and common sense. Ask them to adopt a policy to only use SWAT teams in imminent threat situations. Ask them to reject the lenient punishment recommended by Internal Affairs. Ask them to require immediate blood testing for drugs, alcohol and steroids of officers involved in shootings to remove any questions of whether the officer was fit for duty. Ask them to hold Officer Bullock accountable to higher standards that reflect the severity of his actions, the best interests of this community and best practices in law enforcement nationwide. At the very least, he should never carry a weapon again.

Today as we reflect on our son’s life, we turn back to almost a year ago to the eulogy lovingly written and delivered by our daughter - Sal’s sister Constance. We share it with you today as a reminder of how precious life is, and how senseless it was for our son’s to be cut short through reckless actions.

We thank you for your continued prayers and support. And we ask that you let Fairfax County know that you haven’t forgotten about Sal.

Sal and Anita Culosi
salandanita@justiceforsal.com

Eulogy for Salvatore J. Culosi

December 17, 1968 – January 24, 2006

I can remember the day my parents brought my brother Sal home from the hospital. It was Tuesday, December 17th , 1968. They told us they had a present for my sister and I.…and they meant that literally. They had brought him home in a large white gift box. It had to be large because Sal weighed ten pounds and was 23 inches long. My sister and I looked on with curiosity at this squirming little boy in a box. I thought he was a pretty interesting character and didn’t realize just how different he was from me and my sister until one of his first diaper changes. I have a tip for everyone. Never stand behind the head of a baby boy when he is being changed. I was only 3 ½ but will never forget being on the receiving end of nature’s call. Over the years we would come to learn of the many other differences that existed between boys and girls. We lived in an apartment when Sal was first born. In all of the time we lived there my sister and I never drove our big wheel through anyone’s window nor over anyone’s car. We never got hold of a friend’s father’s handcuffs and handcuffed an annoying neighborhood kid to a tree. We never undressed a friend’s cousin in a flooded laundry room, told her it was a pool and let her swim in it. Despite their Mothers’ watchful eyes Sal and his best buddy at the time did all of these things by the age of four. Maybe that is why we moved out of that neighborhood and into the house my parents now live in.

It was in our new neighborhood that Sal met Scott and Steven who would become his lifelong friends. Our house backed up to theirs and they spent years hopping the fence to play with each other as young boys and even more years driving around the corner to pick each other up for nights out with the boys until the owning of their own transportation translated to boys night out. Their friendship endured separations for college and optometry school and is as strong today as it ever was. Sal and Scott were especially close and I’ve always admired the friendship that they shared.

Sal was a good younger brother most of the time, but Cynthia and I did endure our share of torture at the hands of Sal. We had the upper hand when he was little but it soon became apparent that he was getting bigger and stronger than us and that the tables had turned. Even with two against one we could not escape the spit torture or Ultra Man attacks. His friends were constantly in and out of the house with their weird sounds, bizarre secret expressions and general goofiness. Sal was an entertainer as a boy. I don’t know how many times we would have to listen to him sing “My Country Tis of Thee” or “Peg of my Heart” with his squeaky little voice. And even though we lived in Virginia the extended family was regaled with these masterpieces whenever we went home for the holidays. And how could we ever forget his Elvis imitations. He actually thought he was going to be the next Elvis. In 1982 Sal became a big brother to Christopher. And even though there are 14 years between them they became good friends as adults. I don’t know if that is because Chris is mature beyond his years or that Sal has always been a kid at heart. He would always look at Chris’s antics and a smirk would come over his face. It was a combination of exasperation, amusement and love. They were kindred spirits in their love of the Steelers.

As Sal grew he became accomplished at many things. He was an excellent soccer player and I think at least two of his nieces inherited some of his skill. He excelled in school making my parents very proud when he received the Math Excellence award his senior year in high school. He made them even prouder when he graduated from UVa and then from Optometry School. Academics came easily for Sal. His friends at SCO would tell my parents that Sal barely cracked the books but always came out with the highest grade. He had a gift for explaining things to others in a way they could easily understand them. He was methodical and showed patience in everything he did.

Academics were not the only thing that came easily to Sal. It was also easy for him to make friends. Sal had a great sense of humor, beautiful eyes and a beautiful smile. He was a humble guy. He had a gentle personality that drew people in and he had many many friends from every walk of life. Sal valued each person he met in Tinos and Eddies. His friends were very important to him. He even missed Mother’s Day one year to spend it with his buddy Steve Ryan who had recently lost his own mother. Doc, as he was called, was equally fond of his coworkers and patients at the Walmart. From his classmates to his teammates Sal held those friendships in high regard. Sal also had some special women in his life. Jennifer, Ellen and Tania all understand the grief each other is feeling. Tania most especially.

Sal loved Elvis, Billy Joel and Garth Brooks. He could sing them all and in my unbiased opinion sang Garth Brooks songs better than Garth. Sal was also a bit of a daredevil. From swinging like Tarzan over a creek to trying the expert slope the first time he went skiing Sal had no fear. I remember we got a good laugh when Sal got on the chair lift for the expert slope that first ski trip. I think he knew he was in trouble when he looked around and realized that his were the only skis that said “rental” on them. He started to have second thoughts but made it down the mountain in one piece.

Sal also loved a bargain. During his lunch hours at work he would browse through Walmart looking for the latest deals. I would sometimes get a call from him in the middle of the day asking me if I needed the latest sale item. Neither he nor I would need it but he had to buy it because it was such a good deal. Sometimes the deal was so good he’d buy two or more of the thing he didn’t need.

Sal was always there when you needed him. Whether it was helping to glue feathers onto a hat in Stephanie’s 1st grade class when I couldn’t find enough Moms to volunteer or coming to career day for Victoria’s grade he was happy to lend a hand. He was also a great support to me when I was sick. I don’t think he ever knew how much that meant to me.

Sal received a lot of attention in our family. He really never asked for it, it just came. We often referred to him as the “favorite” because he just was. He was very special to my parents. We could tell because my mother always gave him the extra artichoke and my Dad always gave him the extra homemade pizza meant for me. A first son who shared a name with another very special person in my mother’s life, Sal was able to fulfill a dream of his namesake…to become a doctor. To the sadness of us all he also shared in an untimely death.

No words could ever express how deeply we feel the loss of Sal. He came to us as a gift and now God has called that gift back home. We will carry fond memories of our son, brother, nephew, uncle, cousin, friend and boyfriend. We wish we could have had more time with you Sal. I will miss sitting across from you at holiday dinners. Our end of the table always had the most fun. I know you could read my mind as the chaos of those meals unfolded around us. I just had to catch your eye. We love you and will carry your spirit with us until we meet again. Rest in peace baby brother.

Written and delivered with love by Constance Culosi Gulley
St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Annandale, VA
Mass of Christian Burial, January 30, 2006

 

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

8 Months & Still No Justice For Sal

On Tuesday, September 12th, we attended a forum at the Cato Institute in Washington D.C. on the growing use of SWAT teams across America. The speakers were Radley Balko of the CATO Institute who briefly summarized his book Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America and retired police chief Norm Stamper, author of Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Expose of the Dark Side of Policing. The forum and its content were advertised on the Radley Balko website. Since our son was unjustly shot and killed, this website is among those we search daily for anything that might shed light on what is happening in our society that allows for police to treat citizens as enemies rather than those they are sworn to protect and serve.

We believe that Mr. Balko has taken a particular interest in our son’s tragic killing because it provides yet another example of how excessive use of force and mismanagement of a SWAT team was applied in an unwarranted situation. The result was an outrageously egregious act of gross negligence by a FCPD’s veteran SWAT officer who shot and killed our son. Oftentimes Mr. Balko’s writings cite our Salvatore’s inexcusable shooting and killing as the incredulous act that it was and is and we had wanted to e-mail Mr. Balko to thank him for keeping Sal’s name in the public arena. Unfortunately our focus was diverted while we waited for the Fairfax County Chief of Police to comply with the request made of him by the Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to provide us with an estimated timetable for completing their investigation. To our regret neither goal was realized.

As soon as Radley Balko’s column announced the CATO forum on this most important topic, we felt compelled to attend. Our primary focus was to meet Mr. Balko and personally thank him for his interest in our tragedy. We knew he would be intelligent, but his sincerity, compassion, decency and energy were also very apparent. He is very much like our son Salvatore. His book is very worthwhile reading and his talk was informative and enlightening. We ask that you visit the Radley Balko site and become aware of what is happening in our backyards or we will be destined to sleep walk until we are awakened by an overwhelming and unnecessary nightmare.

We also met Norm Stamper, a gracious, retired police chief and author of Breaking Rank, whose experience and humanity was evident from his proposals for police training. We were particularly taken by his sensitivity to the community the police are charged with serving and protecting. He proposes training that would ensure police officers properly use the authority of their badge and lethal weapons in a disciplined way with the utmost regard for all human life. He related the success he has had in this regard with mock raids/arrests where police trainees are “setup” as objects of the arrest but the arresting team is unaware of the “setup.” This type of training helps to humanize police officers so that they may experience what it is like to be on the receiving end of a raid/arrest by police that are wielding a lethal weapon that is pointed at you. It was a very insightful and thought provoking session.


During the question and answer period, we asked Chief Stamper if he would endorse immediate mandatory drug testing for all officers involved in any shooting. He indicated that he would support such a policy and expanded by saying that taking some blood to test for substances that could impede performance did not seem unreasonable because it helps to clarify and either dismiss or substantiate any questions about the circumstances of the shooting. Since we do not know if the FCPD has such a “testing policy” for its officers involved in shootings, we could only hope they will soon adopt such a policy, if they have not already done so.

Every life is precious and we must treat each situation individually, particularly when there is no evidence of a victim having a criminal record, ever owning a weapon or demonstrating violent behavior. The use of SWAT teams when there is no imminent threat is not only very bad policy but is also a wasteful allocation of scarce police resources intended for other menacing threats and terrorism as it may appear in our communities. Without clear, sensible policies and a Civilian Complaint Review Board, there is usually no true accountability or the transparency that grieving families should expect to receive. When the law is applied in one manner to the citizens of Fairfax and differently to Fairfax police, credibility as well as justice is sacrificed.

The fact is that any accidental shooting of anyone by a civilian would normally result in some sort of criminal/manslaughter charge. However, there are apparently different rules if the shooter is a police officer. After a supposedly thorough investigation, the Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney concluded on one single point; that is, there was no malfunction of the weapon used by the SWAT officer who shot and killed our son. He then attributed tiredness…, no malice intended…and the lack of a negligent homicide law in the Commonwealth of Virginia as reasons for not pursuing criminal charges against the officer. “His conclusion” has circumvented a grand jury’s knowledge, review and determination of the facts.

On what basis should anyone believe that the person doing the shooting had no malice? “Malice” means the desire to cause injury or distress to another. The first principle of handling a weapon is to NEVER POINT A LOADED WEAPON AT ANYONE YOU DO NOT INTEND TO SHOOT. Are we to accept that in the serving of a document search warrant a SWAT officer who has a weapon drawn, pointed at the vital area of another human being, has his finger on the trigger and then pulls that trigger had no intention of shooting or, at least, causing injury to that person? Then what…? A veteran SWAT officer confronting a non-threatening person by pointing and shooting a paramilitary weapon , loaded with bullets that are designed to make no exit wound so as to cause the most catastrophic internal injuries in order to STOP a person cold should be well aware of the results his actions can cause. He knows the capabilities of weapons and bullets. This is deadly force. No malice…. then perhaps a cold-blooded disregard for life?

It is now approaching nine months since our (non-violent, compliant, unarmed, never owning a weapon, in his stocking feet) son was shot and killed by a SWAT officer of the Fairfax County Police Department… We still have not been informed about the disposition of that officer whose negligence in the use of his weapon ended our son’s life nor has his name been officially released by the FCPD. Something is terribly wrong and still must be addressed.

We speak of JUSTICE…for our son there wasn’t any and there will never be a justifiable reason for this to have happened to him… The Officer, the FCPD, the Rules and Protocols, the Commonwealth Law, and the ability to have one person circumvent a Grand Jury involvement… these are the persons and issues that demand JUSTICE BE SERVED. Without accountability, transparency, challenge and change, every citizen of Fairfax County could be subjected to the same set of rules that allow for approaching any of us, for whatever reasons permissible, in the very same manner, and resulting in the same tragic ending.

We anxiously wait for FBI inquires to be completed and being apprised of their findings as we prepare to take the next steps in seeking justice on behalf of our beloved son Salvatore...and, in truth, for all of us.

Sal and Anita
Proud Parents of Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi
SalandAnita@JusticeforSal.com

 

Monday, September 11, 2006

7 Months & Still No Justice For Sal

The seventh month anniversary, August 24th, of our son Salvatore’s unjust shooting and killing by a Fairfax County veteran SWAT officer in the process of serving him with a document search warrant, again finds us at a mass offered in Sal’s memory and receiving communion in his behalf. This date was suppose to be a family celebration marking his father’s birthday but none of us feels like we will be able to celebrate much of anything since Sal has been taken from us.

Since no “official” information has/had come to us directly from the FCPD as requested by the Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors telling the Chief to inform our family regarding the estimated time frame for the conclusion of the internal affairs investigation, I decided to call the FCPD and ask for myself. As Sal’s mother it is my solemn duty and promise to my son to be his advocate. After being passed from one person to another I finally spoke to a FCPD Lieutenant. My question after identifying myself was, “could you please tell me if the internal affairs investigation has been concluded?” I was told that he could not answer me because “concluded” may mean one thing to you (me) and another to me (him/the department?).

He then asked if Chief Rohrer had been in touch with us. I answered no; and when I offered that no one has spoken to us or told us anything since this happened to our son, he sounded somewhat taken aback. He then suggested I compose myself as I had become audibly upset from the frustration of not being able to speak to anyone else in a position to answer my simple inquiry, (not the specifics of their findings, but just if the internal affairs investigation was over) and the heartbreak of living with the reality every day that my son is gone for no justifiable reason. He then asked if I had lawyers. When I answered yes, he seemed to imply that since I have retained lawyers, I would only get information through them; although for the many weeks that we had not retained counsel, no one from the FCPD was reaching out to us. He then said that my counsel should speak to the county counsel, a Mr. Bob Ross. He then told me to have a “good day.” There will be no more “good days” because I am a grieving mother whose son was unjustly shot and killed by one who is sworn to protect and serve.

Although we have heard “unofficially” that the FCPD Internal Affairs Investigation is finished and the SWAT officer has been informed of its findings, we are also told that he (the SWAT officer) now has the opportunity to challenge and or re-dress their findings. Additionally, we are still waiting for the FBI investigation to be concluded. Their report will be presented to the Department of Justice attorneys who will determine if further actions need to be taken.

Again we are hopeful that the Fairfax County Police Department Internal Affairs and the FBI investigations identify the shortcomings of police policies and procedures that led to the obvious use of excessive force against our son and that those involved in the events that led to the circumstances that precipitated his unjust shooting and killing be held accountable in addition to the officer who unjustly shot and killed our son, in a reckless, wanton and grossly negligent manner when Sal was known to be a non-threatening and non-violent person with no history of violence, who did not own a weapon, and was unarmed and compliant at the time of his being shot and killed.

A competent, astute, prudent, and professional police department would have policies that preclude the use of SWAT teams except for cases when there is an imminent threat. We recently read that San Jose, California and New Haven, Connecticut have such policies. The Fairfax County Police Department would serve its residents well by implementing a similar policy in addition to establishing a Citizens Complaint Review Board to address questionable incidents in a public forum where accountability, transparency and preventive change can be realized in order to prevent future tragedies and injustices from befalling other Fairfax County families and residents.

For those of you who had expected to hear from us because you had sent e-mails to this site, please accept our apologies for the oversight. Due to technical difficulties we were not aware of these messages until now. We have addressed this problem and look forward to your continued support.

We ask that all visitors to this site register to receive updates. You may register by entering your e-mail address in the window below Sal’s picture and then clicking “Subscribe Me!” If you want to send a personal note, send your e-mail to SalandAnita@JusticeforSal.com

Sal and Anita
Proud Parents of Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi
SalandAnita@JusticeforSal.com

 

Saturday, August 05, 2006

6 Months & Still No Justice For Sal

On July 24th, we attended a Mass and received Communion in honor and memory of our beloved son Salvatore as it was the six month anniversary of his unjustified shooting and killing at the hands of a SWAT officer in the act of serving a document search warrant.

We have not updated this site in the last three months in anticipation of a response from Chief Rohrer. We were hopeful that sheer decency would mandate that Chief Rohrer honor Supervisor Connolly’s request to respond to us “with an estimation of the time for the release of a report on the death of [our] son.” To date Chief Rohrer has failed to comply with this request.

This failure by Chief Rohrer is totally consistent with FCPD’s apparent “closed door” policy of not sharing any information with the public and makes us wonder if Chief Rohrer works for the Board of Supervisors or if the Board and Supervisor Connolly work for Chief Rohrer. If I were Mr. Connolly, I would want and expect compliance with my directive and I would want it now. Let us see who is in charge.

However, we understand that the FCPD has already concluded their Internal Affairs investigation but we have not received any information on their findings. We can only speculate that the delay in any response from the FCPD is connected to their trepidation that the ongoing investigation by the FBI may connect the dots differently than their “in house” investigation of themselves. We are grateful for the decision by the FBI to conduct a preliminary independent investigation of their own but appalled at the actions of the FCPD in still not releasing the findings of their own investigation. We could only hope that the FBI identifies the shortcomings of police policies and procedures that led to the obvious use of excessive force against our son. Any competent undercover detective who engaged our son would have known him to be both a non-threatening and non-violent person. Sal had no history of violence, did not own a weapon, and was unarmed and cooperative at the time of the killing.

Again our deepest appreciation to all those who continue to monitor this site looking for updates that we hoped we could provide in a timelier fashion. We recognize how very blessed our son was to have so many friends who valued him and miss him as we do. We appreciate the sentiments you have shared with us; they help us to find strength as we bear this cross. We ask you to continue to keep our family in your thoughts and pray that our loving Salvatore’s killing by a SWAT officer will not be forgotten but remembered for the incredulous act that it was and is.

May God send His blessings, graces and mercies to each of you.

With our most sincere affection and appreciation,

Sal and Anita
Proud Parents of Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi
salandanita@justiceforsal.com

 

Thursday, April 13, 2006

3 Months & Still No Justice For Sal

Next week it will be 3 months since our son, Salvatore J. Culosi was shot and killed by a Fairfax County police officer. Our family still has no answers and officials have been unresponsive to our requests.

Today our family held a press conference at the Fairfax County Police Headquarters to share with the public what we know and what we are still trying to find out. Most disturbing are recent developments that suggest inappropriate actions by the police department. You can read a transcript of the press conference here.

Tomorrow we will be posting a Call to Action on this website. We hope we can count on you.

Sal and Anita
Proud Parents of Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi
salandanita@justiceforsal.com

 

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Chairman Connolly Responds

Yesterday, we received an email from Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly in response to our original email to the Board on March 22, 2006. Several of you also forwarded copies of a similar response that was sent to community members who contacted him. We want to thank all of you for helping and encourage you to keep it up!!!

We are asking that you email the Board of Supervisors again and thank Chairman Connolly for taking this first step. But in the spirit of full transparency and accountability, ask him to provide answers to the outstanding issues we identified in our response email from March 29, 2006.

According to Chairman Connolly, Chief Rohrer will be contacting us with an estimation of the time for release of the investigative report. We haven’t heard from him yet. Also, even though the Washington Post has disclosed the name of the officer who shot and killed Sal, Chief Rohrer still refuses to name the officer publicly. Given the circumstances of this case, we think this is absolutely outrageous. We also think the public has a right to know why Chief Rohrer doesn’t think there may be a conflict of interest in directing and supervising an investigation of an officer who he has served with nearly his entire career.

By remaining silent on these issues, and lacking any explanation to the contrary, Chief Rohrer leaves the impression that an inbred culture of favoritism and protectionism exists within the Fairfax County Police Department. Please email Chief Rohrer and let him know what you think.

As far as we know, those of you who have contacted Commonwealth Attorney Robert Horan have not heard a peep from him about why he did not feel it was possible to bring criminal charges against the officer who shot and killed Sal. We want to know why he feels that police officers are immune from being charged under the Commonwealth’s manslaughter statutes when these statutes are routinely applied against and result in convictions of citizens who “accidentally” shoot and kill someone. Has Mr. Horan forgotten that he is an elected official? Email Mr. Horan and let him know what you think!

Please remember with any emails you send to county officials to include your full name, address and telephone number.

Thank you again for all of your support. It continues to amaze us and is a great source of comfort to our family in this difficult time.

Sal and Anita
Proud Parents of Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi
salandanita@justiceforsal.com

 

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Fuzzy Logic by Elected Officials

Yesterday, WTOP Radio 103.5 FM reported that Commonwealth Attorney Robert Horan is standing by his decision not to criminally charge the Fairfax County police officer who unjustly shot and killed our son, Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi. Mr. Horan maintains that you cannot charge a police officer with a crime that does not exist in Virginia statutes. He claims that because there is not a negligent homicide statute, the officer who shot and killed Sal cannot be charged.

Mr. Horan is attempting to deflect attention away from his decision not to charge the officer or bring evidence before a grand jury to make that decision. He has yet to explain how he came to the conclusion that the officer who shot and killed our son cannot be charged under one of the manslaughter statutes that DO EXIST in Virginia.

Blogger Tomato 7 points out a recent case in Portsmouth, VA where an accidental shooting resulted in an involuntary manslaughter conviction. While in the Portsmouth case, the shooter – a lifetime friend of the victim - at first attempted to conceal what actually happened, we don’t really see the difference between concealment and the officer’s amnesia as to how his finger ended up pulling the trigger resulting in the death of our son. If the Portsmouth kids had been in charge of investigating themselves as was the case with Fairfax County Police, certainly the outcome would have been different. As Tomato 7 points out, “one set of rules for them, another for us.”

WTOP also reported that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors did meet yesterday behind closed doors with Chief Rohrer. We have no information on exactly what took place other than what WTOP reported. Penny Gross, Fairfax County Supervisor for the Mason District where we live, told WTOP that “I don’t think we want to micromanage the police department; however, I do think we need to be able to give some answers, some responses.”

Ms. Gross has been responsive to our family, and we were touched when she sent a personal condolence note to us after Sal’s death – the only County Official to do so. But we are very disappointed in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisor’s official comments regarding the closed door meeting with Chief Rohrer because they don’t go far enough.

Each member of the Board of Supervisors is elected by the citizens of Fairfax County. They are not just here to provide answers or rubber stamp departmental decisions. The Board has a fiduciary responsibility to question the leadership of, and policies and actions made by department heads and their staffs, and to demand accountability and changes that reflect the mandate of the citizens they represent. While we recognize there may be reasons for some closed door meetings, a Board that remains silent on its process and timeline for sharing information with the public does not inspire confidence.

The Board of Supervisors is responsible for hiring the Chief of Police. The Chief reports to the County Executive, both of whom serve at the pleasure of the Board. We are encouraged by the steps Ms. Gross is attempting to take but she is only one Supervisor. Where is the leadership across the Board?

There will be no justice for Sal until the full details of what happened are publicly disclosed, those who are responsible are held accountable for their actions, and police policies and tactics are changed to prevent another senseless tragedy like this from happening again.

Sal and Anita Culosi
Proud Parents of Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi

 

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Washington Post Weighs in Again

We will share more details with you next week, but wanted to make sure you saw the wonderful Washington Post Editorial that questions Commonwealth Attorney Robert Horan’s judgment and today’s article by Tom Jackman about our latest efforts to find Justice for Sal. Don’t forget to email Mr. Horan and let him know what you think about his decision not to press criminal charges against the Fairfax County police officer who recklessly shot and killed our son, Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi.

Sal and Anita
Proud Parents of Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi

 

Friday, March 24, 2006

Welcome Back

We appreciate all your kind words of support for our family in this difficult time. Please take a moment to read through our posts today. We need your help.

There will be no justice for Sal until the full details of what happened are publicly disclosed, those who are responsible are held accountable for their actions, and police policies and tactics are changed to prevent another senseless tragedy like this from happening again. With your help, we can accomplish these goals.

With love and appreciation,

Sal and Anita
Proud Parents of Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi

Judge & Jury - Tell Horan What YOU Think

Mr. Horan has served as Fairfax County Prosecutor for 39 years. This is an elected position, although you wouldn’t know it based on public reaction to his decision not to criminally charge the police officer who shot and killed our son, Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi. Unlike every member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and every other Commonwealth Attorney in Virginia, Mr. Horan doesn’t seem to keep an official website that would make it easy for the citizens of Fairfax County to communicate with him.

Mr. Horan’s interpretation of Virginia criminal laws is troubling. Under his interpretation, if a police officer anywhere in the state shoots an unarmed, compliant suspect in plain view, and he claims it was an accident, there is not enough evidence to charge the officer. If he’s right, there’s a terrible loophole in Virginia law that allows police officers to gun down anyone regardless of the circumstances without consequences as long as they claim it was an accident.

We think he’s wrong. Virginia Statutes on manslaughter are quite clear. More troubling, is Mr. Horan’s decision not to bring the case in front of a grand jury to decide. Is this the way Fairfax County citizens want their elected prosecutor to operate?

Tell Mr. Horan what you think. (after a deep, deep google search, we managed to find Commonwealth Attorney Robert Horan, Jr’s email address. If you are a citizen of Fairfax County, please make sure to include your name, address and phone # in your email. Perhaps – just perhaps – Mr. Horan might feel obliged to answer the constituents he’s charged to serve.

Sal and Anita
Proud Parents of Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi

Call to Action – Fairfax County Stand Up!

The day before learning that the Fairfax County Police officer who unjustly shot and killed Sal would face no criminal charges, our family sent an email to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors asking them for help. You can read our email below. Please take a moment and email the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and let them know you support our position. If you are a resident of Fairfax County, please be sure to include your full name, address and telephone number.

Sal and Anita
Proud Parents of Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi

SAMPLE

Subject: Salvatore J. Culosi

Members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors,

I am writing to lend my complete support to Mr. and Mrs. Salvatore J. Culosi’s email request dated 3/22/06 requesting action from your board related to the tragic and unjust shooting of their son by a Fairfax County Police officer. Fairfax County citizens expect nothing less than full transparency, absolute accountability and preventive changes to ensure that what happened to Dr. Culosi never happens again in this county.

Your Name
YOUR ADDRESS
CITY, STATE, ZIP
Your telephone number

-----Original Message-----
From: salandanita@justiceforsal.com [mailto:salandanita@justiceforsal.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 22, 2006 11:06 AM
To: Gerry Connolly; Penelope Gross; Linda Smyth
Cc: Sharon Bulova; Joan DuBois; Michael Frey; Anthony Griffin; Cathy Hudgins; Gerald Hyland; Dana Kauffman; Elaine McConnell
Subject: County Police Unjust Shooting of Our Son, Salvatore J. Culosi

Members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors:

Our son, Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi was a Northern Virginia optometrist, University of Virginia graduate, life-long resident of the county and homeowner in Providence District. He was unjustly shot and killed by a Fairfax County police officer nearly two months ago.

Sal was a kind and caring human being – loved and respected by his family, friends and patients. He was named after his uncle, a New York State Trooper who died in the line of duty.

Sal was under investigation by Fairfax County police for supposedly taking sports bets. So police sent a fully-armed, paramilitary SWAT team to his home to serve a routine search warrant and killed him with a .45 Heckler & Koch handgun – a powerful weapon typically used by U.S. military forces in combat. Sal was alone, unarmed and cooperative outside his home - in plain view when he was shot and killed. He had no criminal history, was a gentle man and did not own a weapon.

We note that the Fairfax County police assumed responsibility for wrongfully shooting and killing our son. We understand that policy prevents police from sharing criminal investigation results with the public or completing an internal affairs investigation until Commonwealth Attorney Robert F. Horan, Jr. indicates whether his office intends to press any charges against the officer who shot and killed Sal. As events unfold that will permit the police department to conduct their internal investigation, we ask the Fairfax Board of Supervisors to consider the following:

1. In the same press release announcing that shooting Sal was wrong and offering condolences to our family and Sal's friends, Chief Rohrer expressed 'support" for the officer who killed our son and praised the individual as a 'valued-member" of the department. According to the release, the officer who killed Sal is a 17 year veteran of the Fairfax County Police. He and Chief Rohrer, a 25 year veteran of the department, have served together for nearly their entire careers. We believe that Chief Rohrer's long-time association with this officer could affect Chief Rohrer's ability to supervise, direct or oversee a fair and impartial investigation, based on the chain of command. We are asking the Board of Supervisors to consider this carefully and take appropriate action.


2. Chief Rohrer has not released the name of the officer who shot and killed Sal to the public. Whether or not this is policy, enough time has passed that the name should be released to the public. Great care is being taken to protect the officer's name when very little care was taken to protect our son's life. Police should not be held to a lesser standard than what would apply to a member of the community shooting someone unjustly. We ask the Board of Supervisors and Mr. Griffin, as Chief Rohrer's direct supervisor, to request immediate public disclosure or a reasonable explanation of why the officer's name should continue to be withheld. Even the Vice President of the United States, a former Fairfax County resident, is not immune from having his name disclosed when he shoots someone.

3. Chief Rohrer has not publicly disclosed an estimated timeframe for when the criminal investigation will be complete or an estimated timeframe for conducting the internal affairs investigation once the Commonwealth's attorney has made a decision on whether or not to press charges against the officer who killed Sal. Given Chief Rohrer's considerable years of experience, we don't understand why he cannot provide an estimate of how long it will take to complete these investigations, as well as keep the public apprised regularly on progress. We expect nothing less than a thorough investigation, but we do not understand why Chief Rohrer is not being more forthcoming.

4. We ask that you conduct a complete inquiry into the Police Department's policies and tactics regarding the execution of search warrants and the use of deadly force, independent of any investigation that may be initiated by the department. This includes the specific policy, as we understand it, to use fully armed SWAT teams to execute all search warrants regardless of the circumstances. We ask that you have the Department and Chief Rohrer provide a full and complete factual justification for these polices. We ask you to determine for yourselves whether such policies are in the best interests and meet the mandate of citizens you are charged with serving and take appropriate action.

5. We understand that the Board of Supervisors is currently contemplating the county budget for 2007. In doing so, we ask that the Board NOT approve the currently proposed increases to the police department budget, including acceptance of any grants, until such time as these questions are answered. We are sure the police department has many legitimate needs and we are supportive of making sure that the police have the right tools and training to do their job, and know how and when to apply them, which was definitely not true when it came to Sal. But we do not believe the Board should rubber stamp the budget increases while Chief Rohrer remains silent.

Our family and friends, Sal's friends and patients and the citizens of Fairfax County have many questions but they cannot be answered unless there is absolute transparency and accountability. We ask for your help in restoring our confidence in this investigation.

When we fully know what policies, tactics and decisions contributed to our son's death, we will ask again for your help in making sure that appropriate steps are taken to prevent this type of tragedy from happening in the future, and that those who are responsible be held accountable.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours sincerely,
BY EMAIL

Mr. and Mrs. Salvatore J. Culosi

(NOTE: Our street address and phone has been omitted from this copy for privacy purposes)

Tell Us Your Stories About Sal

We know how much Sal’s unjust death has saddened and outraged people across the country, but we’re going to ask everyone on the web a very special favor. We want this posting area to be exclusively dedicated to celebrating the memory of our son. We invite family, friends and especially Sal’s friends and patients to share their stories and pictures of Sal here.

This section of the site is not a place for sadness and anger. This is a place where we can all keep our memories of Sal alive. Out of respect for Sal, please only post in this area if you knew our son personally, loved him as we do and have a story that you’re willing to share with us and with the public.

If you would like to express your condolences, please take a moment to email us. Stories, pictures and memories are all we have. Please help us celebrate Sal’s life.

Sal and Anita
Proud Parents of Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi

What ARE they thinking?

We’ll let you decide. Last week, the Fairfax County Police Public Information Office put out a press release titled ”Illegal Gambling Not Worth the Risk.” Only thing is, they forgot to finish the sentence…..

In Fairfax County, VA, you can be shot and killed by the police for allegedly taking bets on sports games - even if you’re unarmed, outside your home, compliant and in plain view.

Sal and Anita Culosi
Proud Parents of Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi

A ‘Cop’s Cop’

If you want to learn more about Chief Rohrer, here’s a good article from Tom Jackman at the Washington Post. When Fairfax County Police Chief David M. Rohrer was promoted to Chief, his fellow officers praised him as a “cops cop.”

We understand that in the entire history of the police department, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has never hired a Chief from outside of the department. We think this is a little inbred and creates a culture that makes it very difficult to have any confidence that this department will ever be capable of investigating itself.

The heads of the Bureaus of Internal Affairs and Criminal Investigations both report to the Chief. The Chief is a 25 year veteran of the department. The still officially unnamed officer who shot and killed our son Sal is a 17 year veteran of the department. It is difficult to have confidence that Chief Rohrer is capable of directing and overseeing investigations fairly and impartially when in the same breadth of expressing condolences to our family, he said this.

Tell Chief Rohrer what you think.

Sal and Anita Culosi
Proud Parents of Salvatore J. Culosi

Words of Thanks to Bloggers

We want to thank all of the bloggers out there for your help in spreading the word about the senseless death of our son, Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi. We still cannot fathom why Fairfax County police found it necessary to send a fully-armed SWAT team to his home to serve a document search warrant for petty gambling. Sal was alone, unarmed and cooperative outside his home - in plain view when he was shot and killed. He had no criminal history, was a gentle man and did not own a weapon.

Please keep up your efforts! And please use this site as the definitive resource on Sal, what our family knows, and what we are doing about it. We need your help to make sure that there is Justice for Sal – full transparency, absolute accountability and preventive changes to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again.

Our family follows your posts daily by checking technorati and google’s blog search engines. We are just overwhelmed with gratitude for your efforts. You are the inspiration for creating this site.

There are too many of you out there to thank individually, but we do want to thank Radley Balko for getting the ball rolling. At some point, we plan to post links to a selection of your blogs. Please feel free to post a message here to bring yours to our attention.

If you have questions about this site, or suggestions on how we can improve it, please feel free to post here.

With deepest gratitude,

Sal and Anita Culosi
Proud Parents of Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi

 

Thursday, March 23, 2006

No Justice for Sal Today

This site is dedicated to the memory of our beloved son of 37 years, Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi. Sal was unjustly shot and killed by a member of the Fairfax County, VA police SWAT team on January 24, 2006. Sal was under investigation by Fairfax County police for supposedly taking sports bets. Police sent a fully-armed, paramilitary SWAT team to his home to serve a documents search warrant and killed him with a .45 Heckler & Koch handgun – a powerful weapon typically used by U.S. military forces in combat. Sal was alone, unarmed and cooperative outside his home - in plain view when he was shot and killed. He had no criminal history and did not own a weapon.

Sal was the most gentle and kindhearted human being. He had his whole life ahead of him. He was contributing to the community as an Optometrist. His practice at the WAL*MART’s in Warrenton and Manassas were established. His friends and patients are as saddened and outraged as we are that something so senseless could happen to our Sal.

A week ago today, our family decided we wanted to launch a blog site to keep the public informed on the status of the investigation into Sal’s death. For two months we’ve had no answers and we still don’t have answers. Our family and friends, Sal’s friends and patients and people we have never met from all over Fairfax County, VA and the country have come out of the woodwork wanting to help somehow right this terrible wrong. This site will provide resources for doing just that.

Our family was working really hard this morning - putting the finishing touches on the site so we could share it with you tomorrow - two months to the day that Sal was killed. Just before noon, we learned that Commonwealth Attorney, Robert Horan, would be announcing that charges would not be brought against the still unnamed officer who unjustly shot and killed Sal. Needless to say, we are devastated. We do not understand how Mr. Horan came to the conclusion that there is no evidence to bring criminal charges.

Our family is regrouping right now, but tomorrow, we will begin uploading more information to the site. Please stay tuned and come back! We will use this site to share what we learn with the public on exactly what happened to Sal.

There will be no Justice for Sal until the full details of what happened are publicly disclosed, those who are responsible are held accountable for their actions, and police policies and tactics are changed to prevent another senseless tragedy like this from happening again.

Please keep Sal and our family in your thoughts and prayers.

Salvatore J. and Anita Culosi
Proud Parents of Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi