Monday, September 11, 2006

7 Months & Still No Justice For Sal

The seventh month anniversary, August 24th, of our son Salvatore’s unjust shooting and killing by a Fairfax County veteran SWAT officer in the process of serving him with a document search warrant, again finds us at a mass offered in Sal’s memory and receiving communion in his behalf. This date was suppose to be a family celebration marking his father’s birthday but none of us feels like we will be able to celebrate much of anything since Sal has been taken from us.

Since no “official” information has/had come to us directly from the FCPD as requested by the Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors telling the Chief to inform our family regarding the estimated time frame for the conclusion of the internal affairs investigation, I decided to call the FCPD and ask for myself. As Sal’s mother it is my solemn duty and promise to my son to be his advocate. After being passed from one person to another I finally spoke to a FCPD Lieutenant. My question after identifying myself was, “could you please tell me if the internal affairs investigation has been concluded?” I was told that he could not answer me because “concluded” may mean one thing to you (me) and another to me (him/the department?).

He then asked if Chief Rohrer had been in touch with us. I answered no; and when I offered that no one has spoken to us or told us anything since this happened to our son, he sounded somewhat taken aback. He then suggested I compose myself as I had become audibly upset from the frustration of not being able to speak to anyone else in a position to answer my simple inquiry, (not the specifics of their findings, but just if the internal affairs investigation was over) and the heartbreak of living with the reality every day that my son is gone for no justifiable reason. He then asked if I had lawyers. When I answered yes, he seemed to imply that since I have retained lawyers, I would only get information through them; although for the many weeks that we had not retained counsel, no one from the FCPD was reaching out to us. He then said that my counsel should speak to the county counsel, a Mr. Bob Ross. He then told me to have a “good day.” There will be no more “good days” because I am a grieving mother whose son was unjustly shot and killed by one who is sworn to protect and serve.

Although we have heard “unofficially” that the FCPD Internal Affairs Investigation is finished and the SWAT officer has been informed of its findings, we are also told that he (the SWAT officer) now has the opportunity to challenge and or re-dress their findings. Additionally, we are still waiting for the FBI investigation to be concluded. Their report will be presented to the Department of Justice attorneys who will determine if further actions need to be taken.

Again we are hopeful that the Fairfax County Police Department Internal Affairs and the FBI investigations identify the shortcomings of police policies and procedures that led to the obvious use of excessive force against our son and that those involved in the events that led to the circumstances that precipitated his unjust shooting and killing be held accountable in addition to the officer who unjustly shot and killed our son, in a reckless, wanton and grossly negligent manner when Sal was known to be a non-threatening and non-violent person with no history of violence, who did not own a weapon, and was unarmed and compliant at the time of his being shot and killed.

A competent, astute, prudent, and professional police department would have policies that preclude the use of SWAT teams except for cases when there is an imminent threat. We recently read that San Jose, California and New Haven, Connecticut have such policies. The Fairfax County Police Department would serve its residents well by implementing a similar policy in addition to establishing a Citizens Complaint Review Board to address questionable incidents in a public forum where accountability, transparency and preventive change can be realized in order to prevent future tragedies and injustices from befalling other Fairfax County families and residents.

For those of you who had expected to hear from us because you had sent e-mails to this site, please accept our apologies for the oversight. Due to technical difficulties we were not aware of these messages until now. We have addressed this problem and look forward to your continued support.

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