More on the Unprovoked Killing of Dr. Culosi by Virginia Police It has been some several weeks since I first talked about the shooting death of Dr. Salvatore Culosi by Deval V. Bullock.(1) In that time, my outrage has not diminished. At least once a week, I mention the incident to someone new, and in all cases it is the first time they have heard of it. I would really like to know why a clear act of aggression by the State against a citizen isn't the topic of constant national debate. Isn't that why the first amendment exists? So we can publish our grievances (actual or potential) against the State? In any event, I have come across some new information about this case. It turns out that the investigating officer, Fairfax police detective David J. Baucom, age 35, is also culpable in the shooting death of Dr. Culosi.
I don't know what the impetus was for Mr. Baucom to begin investigating Dr. Culosi, but the fact is that the amount of money wagered among the optometrist and his friends was far below the minimum amount under which someone could be charged under Virginia law with "conducting an illegal gambling operation."(2) Mr. Baucom had to infiltrate Dr. Culosi's group of friends and work on the optometrist for at least three months before he finally agreed to a wager involving $2000, which the smallest amount the state could charge him for.(3) And so it happened that "[o]n January 24 of this year, Detective Baucom assembled the Fairfax County SWAT team, and marched off to Culosi's home to arrest him."(4) What happened next is telling.
According to press accounts, police affidavits, and the resulting investigation by the Fairfax prosecutor's office, Baucom called Culosi that evening, and told him he'd be by to collect his winnings. With the SWAT team at the ready just behind him, Baucom waited outside Culosi's home in an SUV. . .Culosi emerged from the doorway, clad only in a t-shirt and jeans.(6)
Keep in mind that Mr. Baucom had "befriended" Dr. Culosi (and by "befriend", I really mean "lied to him about his actual purpose for approaching him so he could get the optometrist to do something that the detective could arrest him for). He had befriended him, and had gotten to know him over a period of several months. In other words, Mr. Baucom was in a position to know exactly what sort of person Dr. Culosi was. Yet, when it was time to make the arrest, he felt so threatened by Dr. Culosi that he "gave the sign for two SWAT officers to move in."(6) Mr. Baucom apparently thought that the t-shirt clad, unarmed man was such a grave threat that the SWAT team should be deployed. In any case, what happened next is already a matter of public record. SWAT officer Deval V. Bullock drew his .45-caliber H&K handgun, pointed it at Dr. Culosi, shouted "police" and then proceeded to shoot and kill him.(7) Typically, the language used to describe what happened is intended to divorce Mr. Bullock from the actual shooting.
For example, Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. likes to say that "[i]n the course of bringing his weapon up, it discharged. [Mr. Bullock] has no real explanation how."(8) Mr. Horan, and anyone who has any idea how guns work, should know exactly how the handgun discharged. Guns are inanimate objects. Inanimate objects cannot perform actions. A discharge is an action. Guns, therefore cannot discharge. The actor who discharged the handgun was Deval V. Bullock. The handgun was in his charge. He was responsible for keeping it, maintaining it, and using it. According to Mr. Horan, Mr. Bullock's "gun was tested and was not at fault."(9) This means that the handgun was, in a mechanical sense, working exactly as it was supposed to. Mr. Bullock actually had to point the weapon at Dr. Culosi and pull the trigger in order to shoot and kill him. This is exactly what happened. That he is not being charged is monstrous.
But this vile situation doesn't end with the shooting death of Dr. Culosi. Mr. Baucom has continued an aggressive -- and perhaps malicious -- investigation into the optometrist's gambling practices, "to the point of calling friends and acquaintances he'd gathered from the dead man's cell phone."(10) The detective even called Dr. Culosi's brother-in-law, Steve Gulley, and asked, using deliberately accusatory phrasing, "How much are you into Sal for?"(11) Mr. Gulley got the impression that "police were 'trying to intimidate people' who may assist Culosi's family in a civil suit against the county."(12) This is also the impression held by Ben DiMuro, the Culosi family's attorney.(13)
The most recent news to come out of all of this is good, though:
FBI investigators have opened a preliminary investigation into the case. So far, they have collected the case's file from the county police department and have spoken with key officials.
A full FBI investigation may be forthcoming, though it hinges on advice from Justice Department legal counsel.(14)
Now, I do not necessarily agree with the idea that the FBI should have jurisdiction over an action that took place within a state and with no interstate elements, but in this case, there is a clear instance of a man being killed by state authorities, and no redress being granted by that state. Here, FBI intervention could serve a beneficial end. And it would be nice to see them going after someone for an actual harm they committed against another.
Something needs to be done about this. The police need to learn that they cannot go around shooting people. A possible way that ordinary Americans can show their outrage is through police benevolence associations. When receiving a call asking for money, concerned Americans can ask whether any of the money they donate could ever go to the families of David J. Baucom or Deval V. Bullock of Fairfax County, Virginia. If the answer is yes, a refusal to donate accompanied with an explanation detailing the egregious actions of these two officers and the fact that the police in general seem to support them ought to shine some light on the situation. If the actions of a few cops start to really hurt all of them, they may start to police themselves. But as long as We the People keep letting the police act with impunity, they will continue to do just that.
(1) see: The Sovereign Editor. "Paramilitary style police squad shoots unarmed optometrist," Sovereign Commentary, 2006 March 24, http://sovrealm.blogspot.com/2006/03/paramilitary-style-police-squad-shoots.html.
(2) Balko, Radley. "In Virginia, the Death Penalty for Gambling", CATO Institute, Publications, 2006 May 02, paragraphs 4 & 7,http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6374.
(3) Ibid. at paragraphs 6 & 7.
(4) Ibid. at paragraph 7.
(5) Ibid. at paragraph 8.
(6) Jackman, Tom. "No Charges in Shooting of Unarmed Man", The Washington Post, Metro, Crime, Page B05, 2006 March 24, paragraph 10, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/23/AR2006032301820.html.
(7) Ibid. at paragraphs 4, 11, & 12.
(8) Ibid. at paragraph 11.
(9) Ibid. at paragraph 14.
(10) Balko at paragraph 12.
(11) Jackman, Tom. "No Charges in Shooting of Unarmed Man", The Washington Post, Metro, Crime, Page B01, 2006 April 14, paragraph 13, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/13/AR2006041302046.html.
(12) Ibid. at paragraph 15.
(13) McNeill, Brian. "FBI Might Investigate Culosi Shooting", The Connection Newspapers, 2006 April 20, paragraph 8, http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/article.asp?article=64615&paper=0&cat=109.
(14) Ibid. at paragraph 3.
Subject Matter: Police State Tyranny
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