Category Archives: Police Watch

More Police Shooting Justice

In almost any other profession, if you make a mistake that results in someone’s death, you’ll lose your job. Apparently, that rule doesn’t apply if you’re a cop in Fairfax County, Virginia:

Fairfax County police officials want to suspend for three weeks without pay the officer who accidentally shot and killed Salvatore J. Culosi, an unarmed optometrist being investigated for sports gambling, according to an internal affairs report.

The punishment recommended for Officer Deval V. Bullock in the shooting, which occurred in January, has outraged fellow officers, who said it is too harsh, and Culosi’s family, who said Bullock should never again be employed in law enforcement.

“Any sanction short of this we consider to be nothing more than permission to go out once again and have the opportunity to unjustly kill,” Culosi’s parents, Salvatore and Anita Culosi, said in a statement.

Fairfax officers said the proposed suspension would go far beyond what is typically imposed for an accidental shooting. “The discipline is very disproportionate to prior [shooting] cases,” said Officer Marshall Thielen, president of the Fairfax police officers union. “This was a case where an officer was trying to do everything right, with good intentions. I feel the punishment may be politically motivated because of all the media attention” over the case.

There’s been no small degree of suspicion about what happened in this case, and the officer’s version of events just don’t seem to make sense:

On the night of Jan. 24, the report says, Bullock was getting out of his vehicle when he was bumped on his left side by the vehicle’s door, causing his right hand to “involuntarily make a fist and depress the trigger” of his .45-caliber handgun.

Culosi, 37, was standing outside an undercover police vehicle, which was parked behind his townhouse in the Fair Oaks area. After Culosi was alleged to have paid the undercover officer, who was investigating accusations that he was a sports bookmaker, the officer signaled for two SWAT officers, including Bullock, to make the arrest.

Instead, Bullock, 40, fired one shot into Culosi’s side, killing him almost instantly.

Although police deemed Bullock’s actions accidental, the internal affairs report by Maj. Thomas Ryan says Bullock rushed to get out of his vehicle and arrest Culosi. “This hurried movement caused you to lose sight of your surroundings,” Ryan wrote, “and compromised the safety of your weapon while the muzzle was pointed in the direction of Mr. Culosi.

All of this over an illegal gambling arrest.

Another Police Shooting

This time in New York City. Apparently this dangerous menace to society’s crime was swiping an unmarked police car.

Officers shot three men who had just left a bachelor party held at a Queens strip club early Saturday morning, leaving the groom dead on the day of his wedding, said police, witnesses and relatives.

The shooting happened just after 4 a.m. around 143-39 95th Ave. in the Jamaica section of Queens, near Club Kalua, said Officer Kathleen Price, a police department spokeswoman.

It was not immediately clear what provoked the shooting, but the incident drew outcry from community leaders and family who demanded answers about how it happened. Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the New York Police Department, declined comment Saturday morning.

The man who died was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, said Sgt. Mike Wysokowski, another spokesman. The other two were taken to Mary Immaculate Hospital nearby, with one in critical condition and the other stable. The three men ranged in age from 23 to 31 years old.

Relatives said the dead groom was Sean Bell, 23, a father of two.

Robert Porter, who identified himself as Bell’s first cousin, said he was supposed to be a DJ at the wedding. He said about 250 people were invited to the ceremony and were flying in from all over the country.

“I can’t really express myself. It’s a numb feeling,” Porter said. “I still don’t want to believe it, a beautiful day like this, and he was going to have a beautiful wedding, he was going to live forever with his wife and children. And this happened.”

There were no reports that any officers were wounded in the incident. As many as eight officers may have been involved, but it was not immediately clear what roles each played, Wysokowski said.

Denise Ford, who said her son was one of the surviving shooting victims, said the men’s car hit an unmarked police vehicle. Two cars inside a large area covered by police officers Saturday morning appeared damaged. But police on Saturday did not immediately confirm that one of them was an unmarked department car.

“All I know, they was celebrating,” Ford told reporters at the scene Saturday morning. “The guy was getting married today.”

When I was in driver’s ed, I was taught that whenever I hit a car accidentally I exchange insurance information with the other driver. Apparently, New York’s bravest are taught when one of their cars are hit, to shoot the driver and the passengers of the car that hit it. Of course the cops aren’t talking to the press about this incident. It’s hard to see at the first media reports how to see this shooting is justified.

If this is a case of cops simply snapping when one of their cars were hit, then the NYPD seriously need to check their hiring procedures to keep those who can’t handle stress out of the force. If this is going to be a typical internal affairs investigation where the police are going to stall and try and coverup the actions of these eight cops, then the citizens of New York and Americans in general need to be outraged.

UPDATE: It appears the more we know about the circumstances of the shooting, the less it appears justified.

Mr. Bell’s car then backed up onto a sidewalk, hit a storefront’s rolled-down protective gate and nearly struck an undercover officer before shooting forward and slamming into the police van again, the police said.

In response, five police officers fired at least 50 rounds at the men’s car, a silver Nissan Altima; the bullets ripped into other cars and slammed through an apartment window near the shooting scene on Liverpool Street near 94th Avenue.

Apparently, the three guys had a bit too much to drink at their bachelor party and hit the unmarked police van and swerved all over and hit the police van again. Now if someone hit my car and I got out and emptied the gun I had on me, I would be arrested and charged with manslaughter and it would have been classified as an act of road rage. But something tells me that these five cops won’t be arrested and charged with manslaughter or even fired from the NYPD.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at The and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.
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