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


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 telephone number

-----Original Message-----
From: []
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,

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