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

6 comments:

Joe Cuccia said...

Dear Sal and Anita and Family,

Our continued heartfelt sympathies and condolences for the tragic, senseless loss of Sal. It was disconcerting (to say the least)to read that no criminal charges will be filed against the offending officer. (We can't say "negligent" officer because the police/county have yet to release any information beyond the fact that one of their officers shot Sal to death. Who knows? We tend to assume it was an "accidental" discharge. However, with no facts, no names, no timely inquiry or public access to the officer(s) involved, we can just as easily assume it was not an accident. The perpetrators certainly have had enough time to compare notes and concoct any story they please.
Every police rookie is drilled with the admonition to: "... keep your finger off the trigger, outside the trigger guard and pointed in a safe direction until you "intend" to fire". Why would a "cop's cop" - highly trained, seventeen year, tactical police, veteran officer - have his finger on the trigger and the muzzle pointed at the heart of an unarmed, non-threatening citizen?

Hopefully, through the commendable follow up editorials by the Washington Post and public outrage voiced in forums like this, we may one day know the truth. Until then, there can be no "Justice For Sal".

Law enforcement must never be allowed to behave as if they are above the law. As a matter of fact, they must be held to an even greater standard of accountability than the rest of us.

Has Fairfax County become a defacto police state with no accountability to the people? That title would seem to define accurately its current position and behavior - its policies and practices where paramilitary police squads can invade a community and violate a citizen's civil rights in the extreme without having to answer to anyone.

Your objectives listed in the masthead of this blog must be realized. We must ensure Transparency, Accountability and Change.

God Bless Sal. God Bless the Culosi Family.

Joe & Maria Cuccia

Rudolph DiGiacinto said...

The Colony of Virginia adopted the Common Law of England in March 1661. When Independence was declared a new government was formed and the Common Law of England was incorporated to still be in full force. The current code of Virginia § 1-200. The common law. “The common law of England, insofar as it is not repugnant to the principles of the Bill of Rights and Constitution of this Commonwealth, shall continue in full force within the same, and be the rule of decision, except as altered by the General Assembly.”

The great Virginia jurist St. George Tucker wrote his “Blackstones’s Commentaries” in 1803 on the Common Law of England and as it applied to Virginia law. Involuntary manslaughter was a common law crime and described as St. George Tucker as the following: “Any person guilty of involuntary manslaughter, happening in consequence of an unlawful act, may be prosecuted and punished as for a misdemeanor, only. L. V. 1796, c. 2, §. 12.” Under current Virginia law, the common law crime of involuntary manslaughter is found as § 18.2-36, “Involuntary manslaughter is punishable as a Class 5 felony.“ "Code §18.2-36 provides a sentence for the common law crime of involuntary manslaughter," James West v. Commonwealth, Va. App. (2004). In order for the common law crime of involuntary manslaughter to be invoked, the act “happening in consequence of an unlawful act” must occur. What was the unlawful act(s) the officer could have been committing?

§ 18.2-56.1. Reckless handling of firearms; reckless handling while hunting: “A. It shall be unlawful for any person to handle recklessly any firearm so as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person. Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.” This code has no exemption for police officers. The first two basic tenants of firearm safety are 1. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. 2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. The officer violated both safety rules. Purposely or willfully pointing a gun at an unarmed person who is not threatening him in any way and pulling the trigger rises to reckless handling especially since he knew his gun was loaded and it would fire.

"In Virginia malice may be inferred from the deliberate use of a deadly weapon in the absence of proof to the contrary…Malice is evidenced either when the accused acted with a sedate, deliberate mind, and formed design, or committed any purposeful and cruel act without any or without great provocation." Branch v. Commonwealth, 14 Va. App. 836, 841, 419 S.E.2d 422, 426 (1992) (citation omitted). Volitional acts, purposefully or willfully committed, are consistent with a finding of malice and inconsistent with inadvertence. See Porter v. Commonwealth, 17 Va. App. 58, 61, 435 S.E.2d 148, 149 (1993).- Daren Peck v. Commonwealth, VA. App. (2003). The officer purposely pointed his gun at the suspect and it appears he willfully pulled the trigger.

Under Virginia Code § 18.2-282. Pointing, holding, or brandishing firearm, air or gas operated weapon or object similar in appearance; penalty.

“A. It shall be unlawful for any person to point, hold or brandish any firearm or any air or gas operated weapon or any object similar in appearance, whether capable of being fired or not, in such manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another or hold a firearm or any air or gas operated weapon in a public place in such a manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another of being shot or injured.” From reports the suspect was not only unarmed but was cooperating with the police. Therefore, the officer who shot the suspect cannot claim the safe harbor provision of this code for police officers because it requires that the suspect be brandishing a weapon. “The threat to use deadly force by brandishing a deadly weapon has long been considered an assault. Harper v. Commonwealth, 196 Va. 723, 733, 85 S.E.2d 249, 255 (1955). In Merritt v. Commonwealth, 164 Va. 653, 658-59, 180 S.E. 395, 398 (1935), we said: "An assault is any attempt or offer with force or violence to do a corporeal hurt to another, whether from malice or wantonness, as by striking at him in a threatening or insulting manner, or with such other circumstances as denote at the time an intention, coupled with a present ability, of actual violence against his person, as by pointing a weapon at him when he is within reach of it. "Such a threat may give the threatened person a right to defend himself by the use of a deadly weapon. McGhee v. Commonwealth, 219 Va. 560, 562, 248 S.E.2d 808, 810 (1978). – Jon Douglas Alexander v. Commonwealth (2000)

It is clear from the above history of the law in Virginia that charges should have been brought against the officer and allowed the courts to decide the outcome. Commonwealth Attorney Robert Horan has substituted his opinion for that of a jury which violates Virginia Jurisprudence. He is undermining the entire criminal justice system and the people’s faith in the fair execution of the laws. “The government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men.


Sincerely,

Rudolph DiGiacinto
Founder &c.
www.virginia1774.org

Craig Dacales said...

Dear Sal, Anita, and Family,
I listened to the program on Chris Core, and I totally agreed with Mr. Core, on whether the policeman should have been charged with a crime. Whether what the policeman did is an accident or not, a jury needs to decide that, not the police department or the prosecutor. People are charged when someone dies even if it was an accident. Why do the police have immunity?
One other important point not discussed on Mr. Core's program. How do you know it was not done on purpose or was premeditated. Maybe, Dr. Culosi knew something the police did not want out. Maybe, there was a number of policeman who were gambling. Do you think all policeman are good? Of course not. This is not a perfect world. There needs to be some investigative journalism to try and find out the absolute truth. Maybe, Tom Jackman, the Washington Post writer, will do some investigative reporting. I have met Tom on two occasions a long time ago. So if I can be of any assistance let me know.
I worked part time for Dr. Culosi as an optometrist.

Craig Dacales

Craig Dacales said...

Dear Sal, Anita, and Family,
I listened to the program on Chris Core, and I totally agreed with Mr. Core, on whether the policeman should have been charged with a crime. Whether what the policeman did is an accident or not, a jury needs to decide that, not the police department or the prosecutor. People are charged when someone dies even if it was an accident. Why do the police have immunity?
One other important point not discussed on Mr. Core's program. How do you know it was not done on purpose or was premeditated. Maybe, Dr. Culosi knew something the police did not want out. Maybe, there was a number of policeman who were gambling. Do you think all policeman are good? Of course not. This is not a perfect world. There needs to be some investigative journalism to try and find out the absolute truth. Maybe, Tom Jackman, the Washington Post writer, will do some investigative reporting. I have met Tom on two occasions a long time ago. So if I can be of any assistance let me know.
I worked part time for Dr. Culosi as an optometrist.

Craig Dacales

9:20 AM

ken c said...

To Anita and Sal,

I know and grew up with Judge Horan's son Pat. I just wrote a personal letter to him. I told him he should have put himself in your shoes, if it were Pat who were shot and killed. Would he have made the same decision. I told him Justice has not been fulfilled in this case, and that he paved the way for any killer to join the force and exploit their sins, all in the name of "an accident". I love you and your family very much. I hope you guys are doing ok. You have done so much for me.

With Love
Ken Christensen (Son of Al Christensen)

ken c said...

To Anita and Sal,

I know and grew up with Judge Horan's son Pat. I just wrote a personal letter to him. I told him he should have put himself in your shoes, if it were Pat who were shot and killed. Would he have made the same decision. I told him Justice has not been fulfilled in this case, and that he paved the way for any killer to join the force and exploit their sins, all in the name of "an accident". I love you and your family very much. I hope you guys are doing ok. You have done so much for me.

With Love
Ken Christensen (Son of Al Christensen)