The "I was tired" defense works.


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F4GIB
March 30, 2006, 08:23 PM
According to [district Attorney] Horan, Officer Bullock has no recollection of pulling the trigger. An examination of the pistol determined it was working properly, Horan said.

Police officers are trained to keep their finger off the trigger until they are prepared to fire on a suspect. In this case, Horan said, Bullock believed his finger was not on the trigger. "He thought his finger was straight," Horan said. "He has no explanation for how it happened."
* * *

One factor that may have contributed to the accidental shooting was fatigue.... When Culosi was shot that night, the officer had been awake for nearly 17 hours.
* * *

"There's no doubt in our mind that if the shooter had not been a police officer, he would be facing criminal charges," Attorney DiMuro said.

* * *

Other recent cases of accidental deaths in Virginia have resulted in felony manslaughter charges.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, a 19-year-old Prince William County man was charged with involuntary manslaughter after the gun he was showing off to an 18-year-old friend accidentally discharged and killed the friend.

http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/article.asp?article=63663&paper=0&cat=109

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Car Knocker
March 30, 2006, 08:55 PM
Links, please.

Fly320s
March 30, 2006, 09:02 PM
Which shooting was this?

Sindawe
March 30, 2006, 09:07 PM
This one: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/23/AR2006032301117.html

The Fairfax County police officer who shot an unarmed man to death in January will not be charged with a crime, the county's chief prosecutor announced this afternoon.

From the start, Fairfax police declared that the killing of Salvatore J. Culosi Jr., 37, was an accident and that the SWAT officer who fired had done so unintentionally. Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said that when a person fires a gun without malice and unintentionally kills someone, "they do not commit a crime."


Attorneys for and the family of Northern Virginia Optometrist Salvatore J. Culosi held a press conference to react to news that Commonwealth Attorney Robert Horan will not bring charges against the officer who shot Dr. Culosi. (


"I feel for the family of the victim in this case," Horan said. "You have to. But I also feel for the police officer. This is a good police officer. Fine record, almost 17 years. He's as shattered by this as any good police officer should be."

Police had been investigating whether Culosi, an optometrist with offices in Manassas and Warrenton, was a sports bookmaker. An undercover officer had been placing bets with Culosi for nearly four months and arrived outside Culosi's townhouse in the Fair Lakes area on Jan. 24 to collect $1,500 in winnings, Horan said.

Continues at link above.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Funny, being "tired" has never been an excuse for mistakes in the places *I've* worked.

Standing Wolf
March 30, 2006, 09:28 PM
"There's no doubt in our mind that if the shooter had not been a police officer, he would be facing criminal charges," Attorney DiMuro said.

Special privileges for special people.

DRZinn
March 30, 2006, 10:19 PM
He'd been awake for 17 hours? That's fatiguing?? That's like getting up at 6 and still being up at 11!

MedGrl
March 30, 2006, 11:31 PM
Speaking as an escapee form the Fairfax County Public School system...Fairfax County is the armpit of administrations. They are one of the wealthiest counties in the nation and are so poorly run that it sickens me. I am honestly not surprised that the officer is getting off scott free. I saw it happen in school all the time. One kid would haul off and slug another and then give some lame "I'm the victem it wasn't my fault" exscuse and the administration would give them the "there there" treatment.:fire:

Hawkmoon
March 31, 2006, 12:02 AM
Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said that when a person fires a gun without malice and unintentionally kills someone, "they do not commit a crime."
Negligent homicide isn't a crime in Virginia?

Don Gwinn
March 31, 2006, 12:25 AM
Ummmm . . . wow.

I had not realized that the guy was charged with being a bookmaker. . . . a guy who takes bets on sporting events. I guess SWAT is used based on the anticipated risk of serving the warrant rather than the seriousness of the charges, but dang. . . arresting people for gambling never made sense to me.

F4GIB
March 31, 2006, 12:47 AM
I guess SWAT is used based on the anticipated risk of serving the warrant

Unfortunately, no. They did no analysis of risk, just have a department policy of using SWAT whenever they can (good practice?).

The undercover had been dealing with him for weeks. He had no recond of violence or anything before this. He was non-threatening. He was unarmed. He was a run-of-the-mill accountant not Billy-the Kid.

mbt2001
March 31, 2006, 11:18 AM
You know, I am not saying that the officer should go to jail on felony counts, however there are some folks who have gone to jail on Felony counts for the same thing.


OH YEAH, I loved the part where it said AT THE TIME of the shooting, Salvatore Culosi Jr., an optometrist, was unarmed and speaking with the undercover detective about the Pittsburgh Steelers' participation in the upcoming Super Bowl. After Culosi handed the undercover detective $1,500 in gambling winnings...

And THEN they try to arrest the suspect...

John Hicks
March 31, 2006, 11:55 AM
I'm inclined to side with the officer on this one. No intent means no murder. Also, an accident without neglegence is not even manslaughter.

However, the civil liability should still remain. The department is at fault for creating the "tense" situation by using SWAT for non-violent warrants. The department is at fault for having people on extended duty. And the department is at fault for the actions of its members.

I hope the family of this guy sues and wins big. Of course, that just means they will raise property assessments or the car tax again to pay for it. :fire:

JH

molonlabe
March 31, 2006, 12:07 PM
lot of truth in this
http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=2345539&postcount=4

duckslayer
March 31, 2006, 12:26 PM
accident without neglegence is not even manslaughter

So if one intentionally points a gun at someone then accidentally (or negligently) pulls the trigger, there is no negligence? I always thought that was called involuntary manslaughter.

K-Romulus
March 31, 2006, 12:36 PM
He was a run-of-the-mill accountant not Billy-the Kid.

Actually, he was a successful optometrist who owned not one, but two, clinics . . .

Anyway, here is some more info that managed to slip through the cracks:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/24/AR2006032401873.html

FBI Is Asked to Investigate Fatal Police Shooting
Family Questions Impartiality of Department, Prosecutor After Officer Isn't Charged

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 25, 2006; Page B04

. . . . .

Defense attorney and former Fairfax prosecutor Edward J. Nuttall, who also represents the Fairfax police union, said Horan is right. "You have to have intent for a crime to have occurred or negligence which rises to the level of recklessness," Nuttall said.

Horan said yesterday: "Simple negligence is not enough to prove a crime. You have to get to the point of criminal negligence -- willful, wanton, reckless disregard for human life." He said other states have a negligent-homicide statute, but Virginia's General Assembly has rejected attempts to install one.

(Edited to fix the following line)
Here is what I believe to be the relevant law in Virginia on involuntary manslaughter, in case someone wants to take Horan's advice literally about "no harm, no foul":

Gooden v. Commonwealth, 226 Va. 565 (Va. 1984) (case where a hunter was convicted for accidentally killing another hunter 400m away because he was "shooting blindly" at something in the nearby brush):

Involuntary manslaughter is defined as the accidental killing of a person, contrary to the intention of the parties, during the prosecution of an unlawful, but not felonious, act, or during the improper performance of some lawful act . . . The "improper" performance of the lawful act, to constitute involuntary manslaughter, must amount to an unlawful commission of such lawful act, not merely a negligent performance. The negligence must be criminal negligence . . . The accidental killing must be the proximate result of a lawful act performed in a manner "so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard of human life."

The Va. Supreme Court talked about "gross, wanton, and culpable" in Barrett v. Commonwealth, 268 Va. 170 (Va. 2004) (case where a kid's mom was convicted for her infant's bathtub drowning):

The term "gross, wanton, and culpable" describes conduct. The word "gross" means "aggravated or increased negligence" while the word "culpable" means "deserving of blame or censure." . . . "'Gross negligence' is culpable or criminal when accompanied by acts of commission or omission of a wanton or wilful nature, showing a reckless or indifferent disregard of the rights of others, under circumstances reasonably calculated to produce injury, or which make it not improbable that injury will be occasioned, and the offender knows, or is charged with the knowledge of, the probable result of his acts."

The Va. Supreme Court also described "gross negligence" thusly:

We have defined gross negligence as "that degree of negligence which shows indifference to others as constitutes an utter disregard of prudence amounting to a complete neglect of the safety of [another]. It must be such a degree of negligence as would shock fair minded men although something less than willful recklessness." Ferguson v. Ferguson, 212 Va. 86, 92, 181 S.E.2d 648, 653 (1971)

Sooo . . . I am not getting Horan's argument here . . .

Contrast this case with the case of the Montgomery County, MD, police officer whose shotgun "Went Off" while he was pointing it at an unarmed teenage girl holding a bag of Fritos. (State v. Albrecht, 336 Md. 475 (Md. Ct. App., 1994)).

Different state, different law, yada yada, but here is what one judge on that MD court said:



As Judge Messitte noted, the "overriding question" in this case was whether Albrecht's conduct constituted a "gross and wanton deviation from reasonable conduct" such as would support convictions of involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment. As such, the evidence presented at trial, both in the form of documentary and testimonial evidence, focused upon the issue of whether Albrecht had acted as a reasonable police officer under the circumstances. . . .

Albrecht did not intentionally pull the trigger, but the trial judge was justified in finding he negligently, carelessly or even recklessly pulled the trigger. There was no external cause for the shotgun discharge, and the fact that Albrecht may have been "startled into pulling the trigger" of a loaded, racked, and aimed shotgun need not, as a matter of law, excuse his carelessness in doing so. The pulling of the trigger could be found to be a careless act that, when considered along with all the antecedent acts, at least tips the scale to permit a finding of gross negligence.

Police officers do not have to act like heroes in old silent film westerns and always let the bad guys draw first. They are entitled to draw their weapons and be ready to use them when confronted with a tense, dangerous situation. But when a police officer intentionally places himself or herself a mere trigger pull away from taking the life of an innocent person, if the officer then carelessly pulls that trigger and kills an innocent person, a finding of manslaughter or reckless endangerment is not erroneous as a matter of law. "Accidently" pulling a trigger of a loaded, aimed shotgun can constitute involuntary manslaughter just as "accidently" swerving a truck into a group of school children standing by the side of the road at a bus stop can constitute involuntary manslaughter.

Horan should do a better job explaining his actions . . .

GTSteve03
March 31, 2006, 12:37 PM
So if one intentionally points a gun at someone then accidentally (or negligently) pulls the trigger, there is no negligence? I always thought that was called involuntary manslaughter.
No no no, see cops are allowed to point their guns at whomever they please, even if they're unarmed, and if they whoops let their finger slip and put a round thru someone, it's just an accident. No harm, no foul right? I mean, other than the guy that's layin' on the ground in a pool of his own blood. :rolleyes:

Mainsail
March 31, 2006, 12:54 PM
The excuse is that he'd been awake 17 whole hours? We have aircrews flying 24 hour days. That means from the time they show up at Command Post ready to fly (forgetting the time they spent showering and eating) until the time they shut down engines after the mission is 24 hours.

When they feel the need to BS you, it sure makes it appear they are hiding something.

zahc
March 31, 2006, 01:02 PM
the officer had been awake for nearly 17 hours.

Boo hoo. By the time I get to bed today (or any weekend) I will have been up for 21 hours (6AM-3AM).

only1asterisk
March 31, 2006, 01:27 PM
There have been times when I was at work for 17+ hours. Who are they trying to kid?

David

Cuda
March 31, 2006, 01:29 PM
I must use that "unintentionally" shot the person defense next time...

C

Daniel T
March 31, 2006, 01:33 PM
...next time?

:p

Cuda
March 31, 2006, 01:43 PM
I guess "...next time?" infers I have. I always intentionally shoot.:) :) :) Unintentional creates to much colateral damage to explain.


:D :D

C

BigG
March 31, 2006, 01:44 PM
...when a person fires a gun without malice and unintentionally kills someone, "they do not commit a crime.

How did this guy ever get a job? Pointing a gun at a person is pretty malicious in itself and demonstrates intent. :scrutiny:

k_dawg
March 31, 2006, 01:44 PM
I wonder where are the people, who would claim this is "cop bashing" are?

engineer151515
March 31, 2006, 02:19 PM
I wonder where are the people, who would claim this is "cop bashing" are?

Some of them have retired to a forum that "talks" about "Glocks" and refuse to post on THR anymore.

From what I read.

ebd10
March 31, 2006, 02:20 PM
I believe this to be a variation on "The dog ate my homework" defense. This is why I tell people that when dealing with police, treat them like a Rottweiler that you don't know; no sudden moves, no loud voices, don't turn your back on them if you can avoid it, and never trust them, no matter how friendly they appear.

psychophipps
March 31, 2006, 02:40 PM
I have the distinct feeling that this much more a case of the 'Blue Wall' than anything else. If any one of us non-LE people popped off an unarmed man in a non-life and death shoot and said, "But I've been been up for a whole 17 hours!" then our families would start a search for stock options in 'Soap on a Rope' for good reason.
I can understand where they're coming from in some regards. They're all cops and they have a crappy job in most respects with equally crappy pay. Everyone they talk to is basically a lying git and they have all sorts of crackheads trying to sue for 'police brutality' when they get face planted for resisting the arresting officers.
The problem starts for the police in that area when they defend their fellow officers who have obviously screwed the pooch. I can see going to bat for a potentially clean shoot but when some asshat pulls his weapon and basically NDs into some random, you seriously need to, y'know...investigate the situation and treat it as any other case of manslaughter. Suspend them. Kick them off the force. Can you honestly say that you want some dink like that backing you up on a felony stop? I sure as hell wouldn't.

Mark(psycho)Phipps( HAHAHA! )

F4GIB
March 31, 2006, 03:19 PM
Gambling is an illegal activity in Virginia. You break the law, there's always the chance you could be compromised by the police,

"Compromised"?

"Compromised" is equivalent to KILLED?

Gambling isn't yet a capitol offense in Virginia is it?

molonlabe
March 31, 2006, 03:44 PM
Quote:
I wonder where are the people, who would claim this is "cop bashing" are?


Some of them have retired to a forum that "talks" about "Glocks" and refuse to post on THR anymore.



They are probably over at TFL. The last time I brought up the dangers of the militarization of our police force they sacked me and their rudeness got the thread closed. At this time all I need to do is sit back and wait for more than 1% of the population to notice this. It will get worse you know.

cmidkiff
March 31, 2006, 03:51 PM
I've been up about 17 hours when I unholster at bed time _every night_. Being a little tired doesn't excuse you from following the 4 rules!

Let's review:
1) All guns are loaded - Yup, broke that one
2) Never point at something you aren't willing to kill - Yup, that one too
3) Finger off the trigger - Yet another one shattered
4) Be sure of your target - Four out of four

Criminal negligence seems like it would be easy to prove. Manslaughter wouldn't be any more difficult. Seems the only reason that charges were not filed is that there was no will to file charges on the part of the prosecutor. Hey... Isn't he an elected official? Seems like an important point to remember at the polls!

mbt2001
March 31, 2006, 04:57 PM
I guess what gets me is the way in which he came after the perp. Seems to me that you are asking for accidents.

But if that is the police departments SOP, then they should be the ones that get in trouble. I am fairly certain that the officer would do anything to have not fired that shot.

mbs357
March 31, 2006, 05:18 PM
He'd been awake for 17 hours? That's fatiguing?? That's like getting up at 6 and still being up at 11!
I get up anywhere from five to six and go to bed at around twelve.
Am I weird? >_>

DRZinn
March 31, 2006, 06:26 PM
My point was that that's nothing.

brickeyee
March 31, 2006, 11:30 PM
"I am fairly certain that the officer would do anything to have not fired that shot."

Like turn down the overtime for the deer shooting he was performing in the early part of the same day?
I find it unlikely he had zero control over the working hours.
Sounds a little to gung ho to be involved in anything involving public safety.
At least fire him.
He pulled the trigger.

beerslurpy
April 1, 2006, 12:37 AM
Raising a handgun and pulling the trigger doesnt take long. If a suspect isnt violent, why not point the gun down and keep your trigger outside the trigger-guard? It might even put the guy at ease to know he is only being arrested by a cop and not being assassinated by a masked guy jumping out of the bushes with a gun.

Or are police officers now too highly trained to employ common sense?

It isnt cop bashing to observe that there is a double standard regarding police commission of crimes. There has been for decades. It just hasnt made the prime time in a big way yet. 99 percent of the public is still focused on the "only a few cops are bad" meme- which, while true, ignores the bigger problem of how we deal with those "few bad cops."

Forgiveness and prosecutorial discretion is called for in a few situations, but having a badge should not be a get out of jail free card. This is a lesson we do not want to teach cops, because the bad ones are the only ones who will take the lesson to heart.

k_dawg
April 1, 2006, 03:39 PM
99 percent of the public is still focused on the "only a few cops are bad" meme- which, while true, ignores the bigger problem of how we deal with those "few bad cops."

Well, those cops [ and their commanders ] who either turn a blind eye, or are part of the hypocritical double standard, are also "bad cops".

Art Eatman
April 1, 2006, 10:17 PM
I don't see it as bashing when one particular incident remains as the thread topic. Bashing is when the behavior of one LEO is extended to be representative of many LEOs.

And, in this particular case and many of the posts in the thread, the proper target is less the LEO than it is the local prosecutorial/judicial system.

Art

mbs357
April 2, 2006, 05:10 PM
Doc,
My point was that that's nothing.
Which was exactly my point. 17 hours is an average day. Now me, I don't have to get up at that time, and I could go to bed earlier, and I'm certainly not doing as much as he is, probably, but my point is yours: That's not too long to be up.

DRZinn
April 2, 2006, 05:28 PM
Which was exactly my point. 17 hours is an average day.I know, but it looked like you had misunderstood that I meant the same thing. At any rate, we've now wasted more time on it than it's worth.:neener:

Autolycus
April 3, 2006, 10:44 PM
At first I thought it said the officer was on duty for 17 hours...

He was AWAKE for 17 hours. This is a huge double standard. If I shot an unarmed man I would expect that me being awake for so long would not matter. How is it that people are not able to see the huge double standard. I am in complete agreement with the shock at the militarization of police. I support LEOs but I do not support this. I feel in complete agreement about the posters who claim that the LEOs on a certain Guntalk forum would hide behind the blue wall.

Hopefully the woman will win a lawsuit and the country will sit up and take notice that certain animals are more equal than other animals.

mbs357
April 3, 2006, 11:01 PM
I know, but it looked like you had misunderstood that I meant the same thing. At any rate, we've now wasted more time on it than it's worth.
Heh, I'm not suprised. I'm great at wasting time. :)
The only reason I get up at five is so I can browse THR for an extra hour before school...
:evil:

SalTx
April 3, 2006, 11:27 PM
Although it's been a few short years since I left the field, the last "academy" I attended they instructed us to draw with the finger on the trigger and keep it there until re-holstered. This was different from what I had experienced before..needless to say, on one or two occassions, while qualifying, I shot the dirt in front of my feet. Personally, I think the LEO should face charges of some type..at least should be gone from the field...wish I had that type of lattitude with the "real" criminals I've had to so politely arrest, transport, process, and guard..worked all aspects. I've also spent years where working double shifts due to "lack" of personnel was a 1-2 times a week normal...16 hours....and believe you me..that was no excuse to be rude, bitch, complain, call in sick the next day..at least to the supervisors. God forbid shooting someone DEAD!! Just my opinion.

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