Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Fuzzy Logic by Elected Officials

Yesterday, WTOP Radio 103.5 FM reported that Commonwealth Attorney Robert Horan is standing by his decision not to criminally charge the Fairfax County police officer who unjustly shot and killed our son, Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi. Mr. Horan maintains that you cannot charge a police officer with a crime that does not exist in Virginia statutes. He claims that because there is not a negligent homicide statute, the officer who shot and killed Sal cannot be charged.

Mr. Horan is attempting to deflect attention away from his decision not to charge the officer or bring evidence before a grand jury to make that decision. He has yet to explain how he came to the conclusion that the officer who shot and killed our son cannot be charged under one of the manslaughter statutes that DO EXIST in Virginia.

Blogger Tomato 7 points out a recent case in Portsmouth, VA where an accidental shooting resulted in an involuntary manslaughter conviction. While in the Portsmouth case, the shooter – a lifetime friend of the victim - at first attempted to conceal what actually happened, we don’t really see the difference between concealment and the officer’s amnesia as to how his finger ended up pulling the trigger resulting in the death of our son. If the Portsmouth kids had been in charge of investigating themselves as was the case with Fairfax County Police, certainly the outcome would have been different. As Tomato 7 points out, “one set of rules for them, another for us.”

WTOP also reported that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors did meet yesterday behind closed doors with Chief Rohrer. We have no information on exactly what took place other than what WTOP reported. Penny Gross, Fairfax County Supervisor for the Mason District where we live, told WTOP that “I don’t think we want to micromanage the police department; however, I do think we need to be able to give some answers, some responses.”

Ms. Gross has been responsive to our family, and we were touched when she sent a personal condolence note to us after Sal’s death – the only County Official to do so. But we are very disappointed in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisor’s official comments regarding the closed door meeting with Chief Rohrer because they don’t go far enough.

Each member of the Board of Supervisors is elected by the citizens of Fairfax County. They are not just here to provide answers or rubber stamp departmental decisions. The Board has a fiduciary responsibility to question the leadership of, and policies and actions made by department heads and their staffs, and to demand accountability and changes that reflect the mandate of the citizens they represent. While we recognize there may be reasons for some closed door meetings, a Board that remains silent on its process and timeline for sharing information with the public does not inspire confidence.

The Board of Supervisors is responsible for hiring the Chief of Police. The Chief reports to the County Executive, both of whom serve at the pleasure of the Board. We are encouraged by the steps Ms. Gross is attempting to take but she is only one Supervisor. Where is the leadership across the Board?

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.

Sal and Anita Culosi
Proud Parents of Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi