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Culosi wrongful death trial set for Jan.

Five years after optometrist Salvatore J. Culosi was shot to death outside his home by a Fairfax County police officer, that officer will go on trial in January, to face a wrongful death civil suit filed by Culosi's parents, court records show.

Culosi was 37 and being investigated by Fairfax undercover detectives for sports gambling on Jan. 24, 2006, when a SWAT team was called in to arrest him near his townhouse in the Fair Oaks area. But SWAT Officer Deval V. Bullock drew his .45-caliber handgun and fired at the unarmed Culosi, striking him once in the heart and killing him.

Both Fairfax prosecutors and federal investigators found that Bullock had committed no crime.

Fairfax Police Chief David M. Rohrer removed Bullock from the SWAT team and suspended him without pay for three weeks. Bullock is now a detective.

Culosi's parents filed suit in federal court in Alexandria in March 2007. The case was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, who dismissed the case against Fairfax County and Rohrer, but did not dismiss the case against Bullock.

Appeals of that ruling, first to Brinkema and then to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, by both the Culosis and Bullock, kept the case tied up for more than two years.
In February of this year, the federal appeals court rejected both sides, and sent the case back to Brinkema. A hearing was held in June, and the judge asked both sides to determine when their witnesses would be available to discuss the events of that night. They decided on Jan. 18.

The Culosis are represented by Alexandria lawyers Bernard J. DiMuro and Michael S. Lieberman. Bullock is represented by Fairfax lawyer David J. Fudala. Bullock's legal fees, and any damages that a jury might assess, are paid for by Fairfax County.

-- Tom Jackman

By Tom Jackman  |  September 7, 2010; 11:40 AM ET
Categories:  Fairfax , From the Courthouse , Police Shootings , Tom Jackman , Updates  
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Next: Fairfax firefighters raise most for MDA


Punishment seems a tad severe for sports gambling.

Posted by: nuke41 | September 7, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Let this case be a warning to all Fairfax Co citizenry. It's open season and you're the target. Your police department can kill you and your DA won't lift a finger to give you and your family justice. Good luck to the Culosi family. I hope you receive the justice Sal deserves.

Posted by: kmp1 | September 7, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

It is routine to suspend an officer with pay during an investigation when shots are fired, but it isn't routine to drug test an officer when a shooting occurs.

Posted by: blasmaic | September 7, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Its about time this went to court. I am normally inclined to defend officers in accidents but sending a SWAT team to apprehend a gambling optometrist is an incredible waste and resulted in this horrible accident. This was a crime that probably wouldn't have even resulted in any jail sentence. Clearly that shouldn't require SWAT.

Posted by: dtysko | September 7, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I agree it is about time. Too bad the chief isn't included in the suit. He's responsible for the department.

Posted by: Observer21 | September 7, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Good luck to the Culosi family on suing the Gestapo Police Dept. I guess it's OK for VA to sell lottery tickets, but not OK for Joe citizen to bet on anything unless VA can make a profit. Bullock should change his name to Bullshit because that's probably what he told his superiors & IAD after the shooting.

Posted by: billbarry1 | September 8, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

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