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Posted at 4:59 PM ET, 01/18/2011

$2M Culosi settlement finalized

By Tom Jackman
Tom Jackman

In an empty federal courtroom in Alexandria Tuesday morning, the family of Salvatore J. Culosi formally settled their lawsuit against Fairfax County in exchange for a payment of $2 million from the county, for the 2006 shooting death of Culosi outside his townhouse in the Fair Oaks area.

The case arose after a Fairfax SWAT team descended on Culosi to arrest him on Jan. 24, 2006, after he allegedly had made a series of bets on football games with an undercover detective.

Officer Deval V. Bullock leapt out of his sport-utility vehicle, yelled "Police," and then fired one shot from his .45-caliber pistol. The bullet entered Culosi's side and pierced his aorta. Culosi, 37, was unarmed. Bullock said his door struck him on his left side, causing him to accidentally fire once with his right hand.

The Culosis sued Bullock, the county, Chief David M. Rohrer and Lt. James Kellam, the head of the SWAT team, in January 2007. U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema dismissed all but Bullock as defendants in the case, citing Virginia law providing immunity to government entities. Appeals of those rulings delayed the trial until Tuesday, and the two sides reached a settlement agreement last week.

Culosi's parents and three siblings were in the courtroom, and said they had hoped the lawsuit would bring about change in the police department's use of SWAT teams to make arrests of non-violent suspects.

Culosi's father, Salvatore J. Culosi, said the suit targeted Fairfax because "that guy doesn't go out and kill my son, but for those policies. That doesn't happen because these people don't bring out this kind of force. That's the tragedy."

The Culosis have not decided how to use the settlement money, which will be divided among the parents and siblings.

This item has been updated since it was first published.

In these 3D animations created for the lawyers of Culosi's family by Roder Evidence Consulting, the lawyers attempt to show that Officer Deval Bullock could not have exited his sport-utility vehicle, been struck by the door and accidentally fired one shot into Culosi's chest as Bullock claimed; and, also, that the trajectory of the fatal bullet through Culosi's body does not match the claim by Officer Deval Bullock that he fired from a distance of 20 feet.

By Tom Jackman  | January 18, 2011; 4:59 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax, From the Courthouse, Police Shootings, Tom Jackman, Updates  
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At first I thought this article covered the Maryland mayor whose dog was shot by a SWAT team. There is little doubt that DC-area SWAT teams have appeared trigger-happy in recent years. I personally have a security-oriented Federal job, have friends in various police departments, and am always alert for people who might be running in with guns. But the average citizen simply doesn't have the reaction time to process the shout "police" and react within 2 seconds to save his life. Too bad we are undermining confidence in law enforcement with these displays of force.

Posted by: Dave115 | January 18, 2011 4:55 PM | Report abuse

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