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Police shoot, kill unarmed bookie

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Mr. James, Jan 26, 2006.

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  1. Mr. James

    Mr. James Well-Known Member

    Whiskey Tango Hotel, over? Why did he clear leather??

    Fairfax Police Say Shooting Was Accident
    Officer Kills Optometrist Suspected of Gambling
    By Tom Jackman
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, January 26, 2006; A01

    Fairfax County's police chief said yesterday that one of his officers accidentally shot and killed an optometrist outside the unarmed man's townhouse Tuesday night as an undercover detective was about to arrest him on suspicion of gambling on sports.

    Police had been secretly making bets with Salvatore J. Culosi Jr., 37, since October as part of a gambling investigation, according to court records. They planned to search his home in the Fair Oaks area, just off Lee Highway, shortly after 9:30 p.m.

    Culosi came out of his townhouse on Cavalier Landing Court about 9:35 p.m. and was standing next to the detective's sport-utility vehicle, police said, when the detective gave a signal to tactical officers assembled nearby to move in and arrest Culosi.

    "As they approached him . . . one officer's weapon, a handgun, was unintentionally discharged," said Fairfax Police Chief David M. Rohrer.

    Culosi was not making any threatening moves when he was shot once in the upper part of his body, police said. He was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

    The last fatal police shooting in Fairfax was in September 2000, when an officer killed a man threatening him with a woodcutting tool.

    "On behalf of the Fairfax County Police Department and myself, I wish to express our condolences and our sincere sympathy to Mr. Culosi's family and friends," Rohrer said. He declined to answer questions after making the statement.

    Police departments generally do not accept responsibility for an officer-involved shooting before an investigation is completed.

    Culosi's family in Annandale was grief-stricken and declined to be interviewed. Culosi's older sister, Constance Culosi Gulley, issued a statement saying that her brother was "a respected local businessman and doctor with his whole life ahead of him and didn't deserve to have his life end this way."

    Culosi grew up just off Annandale Road, graduated from Bishop O'Connell High School and the University of Virginia, then attended the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis and became a doctor of optometry. He opened practices in Manassas and Warrenton that are attached to Wal-Mart stores.

    The officer, a 17-year veteran assigned to the police tactical unit, was not identified. He was placed on leave with pay while police conduct both an internal administrative investigation and a criminal investigation. Rohrer also expressed support for the officer, calling him a valued veteran of the department.

    Lt. Richard Perez, a police spokesman, said he could not say how or why the gun discharged.

    "When you draw the weapon, you always try to assess what the potential threat is going to be," Perez said. He said the officers in the tactical squad are "highly trained officers. Do unintentional shootings occur? Absolutely. We're humans, and these kind of things do occur."

    Perez said he did not know what type of handgun Culosi was shot with.

    After several years without any shootings, officers shot and wounded several people last year, including one of their own officers in an accidental shooting. A robbery suspect was shot this month on Route 1. In the nearly 39 years that Robert F. Horan Jr. has been the chief prosecutor in Fairfax, no officer has been charged with improperly shooting someone.

    Rohrer said in his statement that the tactical squad routinely performs arrests and provides support for detectives executing search warrants. The chief said in his statement that "we will fully review, as always, our policies, practices and this operation in detail."

    Culosi's family said that "police action that results in the death of an unarmed, nonthreatening person calls for a full and open investigation. We hope proper steps are taken by county police to ensure other families won't have to endure similar pain."

    Culosi was a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan, longtime friend Steve Lunceford said. Culosi excelled at soccer, playing on travel teams as a youth and for the O'Connell varsity. He was not married and had no children.

    "He was gregarious, outgoing, loved to sing off-key at weddings," Lunceford said. "For this to happen, it's surreal. The police need to account for and be held accountable for their actions."

    Deon Chapman said he became a casual friend of Culosi's after meeting him at a pool tournament at a Fairfax bar about 10 years ago. "He was a laid-back guy, funny guy. . . . I've never known him to even carry a pocketknife. This is a college boy, clean-cut." He also said he had no idea that Culosi might have been a bookie.

    In an affidavit for the search warrant, Detective David J. Baucom, who often investigates sports gambling in Fairfax, said he met Culosi at a bar in October and started making NFL bets with him by cell phone. Baucom said he placed more than $28,000 in bets on games through last Sunday and met Culosi about every two weeks to pay his debts or collect his winnings, either at a restaurant or Culosi's home. Through Jan. 16, Baucom had lost more than $5,500 to Culosi, his affidavit stated.

    Lt. Steve Thompson, Baucom's supervisor in the police organized crime division, said in a recent interview that there is no shortage of sports bookies in Fairfax and that police investigate only those who meet certain criteria. He said that Fairfax typically goes after only those bookies with many customers who take in $100,000 in bets per week and that larger bookies will take in $300,000 to $400,000 on a busy football weekend.

    Last month, another investigation headed by Baucom resulted in the arrest of a man suspected of being a bookie who lives in Washington but operated in Fairfax. When police searched his safe deposit boxes, they seized nearly $350,000 in cash, court records show. Charges against that man are pending.

    After shooting Culosi, police searched his townhouse. The results of that search were not available yesterday.

    Perez said Culosi had not displayed a weapon or shown any violent tendencies while he was being investigated by Baucom. But Perez said police had to be prepared for any possibility, because "the unexpected can occur."

    Staff writers Allan Lengel and Carol Morello contributed to this report.

    © 2006 The Washington Post Company

    Fairfax County Police Department statement:

    Fairfax County Police Department
    Public Information Office
    4100 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, Va. 22030
    703-246-2253. TTY 703-204-2264. Fax 703-246-4253

    News Release 06/024/2994/MAJ/(8)
    January 25, 2006

    Police Shooting

    Last night, at approximately 9:35 p.m. members of the Fairfax County Police Department’s Organized Crime and Narcotics Division and Tactical Unit conducted an operation in the 11600 block of Cavalier Landing Court. The detectives and officers were serving a search warrant based on an ongoing investigation of an illegal gambling operation.

    The target of the investigation, Salvatore Culosi, a 37-year-old male, was outside the residence as members of the TAC Unit approached. One officer’s weapon, a handgun, unintentionally discharged. The bullet struck Mr. Culosi in the upper body. He received immediate medical care and was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital where he died a short time later.

    Colonel David M. Rohrer, Chief of the Fairfax County Police Department, issued the following statement:

    On behalf of the Fairfax County Police Department and myself, I wish to express our condolences and sincere sympathy to Mr. Culosi’s family and friends.

    We also acknowledge and accept that we have a responsibility to Mr. Culosi’s family, to the community, and to our officers to conduct a comprehensive, balanced, and fair investigation and we are committed to performing that responsibility. I pledge that we will fully review, as always, our policies, practices, and this operation in detail.

    In the days ahead, as we move forward in our investigation, we will also share our findings with the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

    Although my primary focus for this announcement is to express our condolences to the Culosi family and to clarify our preliminary findings, I would be remiss to also not express my support for the officer involved. He is a 17-year veteran of our Department, and he is a valued member. My support goes out to him and his family.

    This case has impacted and profoundly saddened us all.

    The officer involved has been placed on routine administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigations. He has been a valued member of the TAC Unit for seven years.

    To request this information in an alternate format, call the Public Information Office at 703.246.2253. TTY 703-204-2264
  2. 1 old 0311

    1 old 0311 member

    OOPS! Somebody is going to spend a lot of time in court. " Tell me Officer.....
    Have you ever heard to keep your finger OFF the trigger till you are ready to fire?"

  3. gonzo_beyondo

    gonzo_beyondo Well-Known Member

    Maybe the Officer with the "unintentional discharge" was one of Culosi's regular customers?

    Seems rather odd, overall, to say the least.

    "...could not say how or why the gun discharged."
    "...did not know what type of handgun Culosi was shot with."

    LOL! My goodness these guys are professional! Unbelieveable. :banghead:
  4. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus


    Lemme see if I got this straight...

    An optometrist was placin' bets on games...something that we've all done at one time or another...and he was approached as if he were a crack dealer that had an "Armed&Dangerous" advisory?:scrutiny:

    Guess we'd better stop bettin' on the Super Bowl, lads...They're serious about these football pools.
  5. ball3006

    ball3006 Well-Known Member

    The manufacturer of the gun....

    is sure to face a heavy legal battle proving it was not the gun's fault.........sounds like a "we better make sure this guy does not talk" to me........chris3
  6. WT

    WT Well-Known Member

    In my area the police settlement would be about $2.5-$3.0 million. Since the poor guy did not have a wife or family they will probably try to get it dropped to peanuts ..... maybe bury the poor b*stard in Potters Field.

    It is a tragedy that they had to kill a Steeler's fan.
  7. CletusFudd

    CletusFudd Well-Known Member

    The crime here was that the government didn't get it's cut of the money. When mobsters don't get their money what do they do? They send in their enforcers to strong arm the guy.
  8. Camp David

    Camp David member

    Fairfax County is very hard on Optometrists! ;) Sorry.. that was entirely inappropriate!

    This is a very sad case and it happened very close to my backyard. I get nervous when I see the police most times; sadly such examples only fortify citizens' general mistrust of local law enforcement...

    I am sure what the Chief said is entirely accurate; that this was a horrible mistake... I take him at his word... still... late night busts of card games :uhoh: is probably not something that police should be doing.... particularly in Fairfax where gang activity should probably get the emphasis!

    I am so sorry for family....
  9. Maxwell

    Maxwell Well-Known Member

    ...as Ive said to people countless times before, citizens with weapons often have far better training than the police.

    This is just another sad case-in-point. :(
  10. 12-34hom

    12-34hom Well-Known Member

    Remember the 4 rules!!

    Tragic, one life lost - the other ruined. All because of carelessness + a dose of stupidity when in charge of a loaded firearm.

  11. K-Romulus

    K-Romulus Well-Known Member

    quick question to LEO's

    It seems the ND happened with the firearm pointing at the deceased's "upper part of his body." Since the tac-team was "moving in" to arrest him, that means the ND officer had his gun pointing at the optometrist while the officer was moving.

    Is this standard procedure for arrests? Or is this only for "high-risk" arrests? From what I know (admittedly not much), LEO's are trained to only point firearms at suspects after a certain "threat" threshold has been met, and to otherwise keep drawn firearms at low or "medium" ready, especially while moving along.

    Is this incident a result of poor training, or a major screw-up?:confused:
  12. DnPRK

    DnPRK Well-Known Member

    Sounds like a negligent homicide conviction for the officer and $3M award to the victim's family.
  13. R.H. Lee

    R.H. Lee Well-Known Member

    Why do they think they need a 'tactical squad' to arrest one suspected bookie??? It seems to me most PD's have too much money for too many toys and too much of a desire to play commando games.
  14. Nightfall

    Nightfall Well-Known Member

    I don't know about you folks, but I for one will sleep easier at night knowing people aren't spending their money on football wagers. Gambling is only moral when it's ran by the government, after all! We can't have private citizens providing a desired service for a profit... what do you think this is, a capitalist society? :rolleyes:
  15. NineseveN

    NineseveN member

    First off, :barf: .

    Over a bookie?

    Let's see, a non-violent bookie arrest gets a tac squad and undecover officers, but if my home is robbed, I get a report and a "good luck buddy" handshake at best. Something isn't right with that.
  16. GunnySkox

    GunnySkox Well-Known Member

    Thank goodness gambling is against the law, else somebody could get hurt!

    Got nothin' to say for or against the police in this situation (with the exception of the guy who drilled the bookie, he sucks, "accident" [quotes to imply negligence, as opposed to magical shootingthemselvesguns] or not), because I don't have enough information to judge the wiseness of using those various units against the bookie guy.

  17. buzz_knox

    buzz_knox Well-Known Member

    I believe it was Law and Order magazine that had an article about how the technique of muzzle dominance used by SWAT/HRT (aim at everyone when you can't tell perp from hostage) has trickled down to street cops, but without the required level of training.

    The current trend of pulling weapons regardless of the threat level has disastrous consequences. A suspect in Knoxville got shot in the back of the head by a cop running with his Glock in his hand. At least, that was the official story. Both running, and she got popped in the head from several yards away while running.

    No, we didn't buy the story either, but it did get Glock sued for "negligent design."
  18. kjeff50cal

    kjeff50cal Well-Known Member


  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Well-Known Member

    Nope, that's what happens if you or I are that stupid. Since it was a person with a badge - no matter how dumb, inept, or negligent - they will get two weeks of "Administrative Leave with pay" and the family will get a nice card apologizing for the "terrible accident".

  20. Sindawe

    Sindawe Well-Known Member

    Damn shame for the Optometrist and his family. The offending cop should never hold a job as a cop again. The fool who authorized the use of the tactical squad should be demoted at least, better yet given his walking papers. :cuss:
    It is quite simple really. The criminal can have is assets and property seized and forfeited under the premise that they are tainted by the fruits of a criminal enterprise. You however, as crime victim, can not.

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