For His Own Good

The government claims that it is important to crack down on gambling because people who gamble might do themselves financial harm.  Of course, just like the teenager who is thrown in jail because it is better for him than smoking marijuana, so goes the case of Salvatore Culosi:

"¦ Salvatore Culosi "¦ was a 37-year old optometrist in the
Washington, D.C. suburb of Fairfax, Virginia. According to friends,
Culosi was a wealthy, self-made man. He was easygoing and friendly, a
guy who enjoyed his success.

He was also a small-time gambler. Culosi and his friends
regularly met at bars in the area to watch sports, and frequently
wagered on the outcomes of games. The wagers weren't insignificant "”
$50, $100, sometimes more on a given afternoon. But the small circle of
friends also had the means to back up their wagers. No one was betting
the mortgage, here"¦

Fairfax police detective David J. Baucom met Culosi in a bar
one evening last October, befriended him, and was soon making wagers
himself"¦ Baucom began upping the ante, encouraging Culosi to wager
larger sums than what the friends were used to"¦

Baucom eventually encouraged Culosi to wager at least $2,000
in a single day, the lower threshold under which Culosi could be
charged under state law with "conducting an illegal gambling
operation." On January 24 of this year, Detective Baucom assembled the
Fairfax County SWAT team, and marched off to Culosi's home to arrest

According to press accounts, police affidavits, and the
resulting investigation by the Fairfax prosecutor's office, Baucom
called Culosi that evening, and told him he'd be by to collect his
winnings. With the SWAT team at the ready just behind him, Baucom
waited outside Culosi's home in an SUV. As Culosi emerged from the
doorway, clad only in a t-shirt and jeans, SWAT officer Deval Bullock's
finger apparently slipped to the trigger of his Heckler & Koch MP5
semiautomatic weapon, already aimed at the unarmed Culosi.

The gun fired, releasing a bullet that entered Culosi's side,
then ripped through his chest and struck his heart, killing him


  1. Esox Lucius:

    Holy Shit...

    I wasn't expecting that. I am speechless...

  2. Dan:

    That is sickening.

  3. Dan:

    By the way, this is old news. It didn't happen this year. It happened in 2006. Still a very disturbing story.

  4. Dan:

    The officer who accidentally fired the shot, by the way, was suspended without pay for several weeks and taken off of SWAT duty. Apparently the door of his squad car hit him as he exited the car, causing his finger to accidentally pull the trigger. That's the story, anyway.

  5. EconStudent:

    This is the one case in which I would be very much in favor of a major wrongful death lawsuit against the police department. There was a case recently in Colorado in which four older gentlemen were arrested for running an illegal gambling operation, because they took 5% of the nightly pot to buy snacks and beer for the group, which counts as the house taking a cut! Luckily, no one was killed when they were broken up.

  6. Rocky Mountain:

    Why did the police need a swat team to arrest a guy this way? I think a phone call asking him to come down to the station would undoubtedly have worked. All police aren't idiots but it sounds like these got their training by watching TV. Anyway, betting $2,000 with a friend is a crime? I'll be sure and limit my bets to $1,999.99 next time.

  7. Rocky Mountain:

    Why did the police need a swat team to arrest a guy this way? I think a phone call asking him to come down to the station would undoubtedly have worked. All police aren't idiots but it sounds like these got their training by watching TV. Anyway, betting $2,000 with a friend is a crime? I'll be sure and limit my bets to $1,999.99 next time.

  8. Mike Geitner:

    Did these cops train in Waco?

  9. Mike Geitner:

    Did these cops train in Waco?

  10. Mike Geitner:

    Did these cops train in Waco?

  11. Mike Geitner:

    Did these cops train in Waco?

  12. Josh:

    A SWAT team, what the hell? Wouldn't you think two police officers could bring this guy in? At most four. Probably without MP5s or APCs, even.

  13. Dr. T:

    I am certain there is much more to this story than we have read. Why would a police department spend so much time and effort to nail an optometrist on a private gambling charge? I suspect the optometrist got on some powerful or well-connected person's shit list, and the person used his connections to start an investigation. I also suspect that the use of a full SWAT team was designed to punish and frighten the optometrist. Another possible explanation is more evil.

    All gun safety training programs tell you to not point your gun at something unless you intend to shoot it. Much worse is to point your gun and put your finger in the trigger guard. It's hard for me to believe a trained policeman, in a non-life-threatening situation, would do both while exiting a vehicle. The more evil explanation was that the shooting was a hit. Perhaps the entire investigation, entrapment, and SWAT team arrest was cover for a murder.

  14. Caby Smith:

    Hi all... I knew Dr. Culosi, and believe me, he was the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet. I don't believe for a moment that it was a "hit", Dr. Culosi was too nice to have ever irritated anyone that much. Unfortunately, it was an over use of force... poor training, and I believe, criminal negligence. That doesn’t mean I think the SWAT cop is a bad guy… I’m a supporter of the police; I think they have a hard job. But I think in the long run, the cop that shot him would be better off if he had been prosecuted… now he has to live the rest of his life feeling as though he has gotten away with murder. If he had been punished properly, he would be able to move on with his life, and come to terms with his horrible mistake. My friend Sal is gone, I can’t change that… but we all remain in danger until we stop covering up mistakes on the part of the police force.

    Caby Smith

  15. Dan:

    Great post, Caby, and I agree with every word. Sorry you lost your friend.

  16. ddbb:

    I believe Radley Balko at has covered this case in detail.

  17. Mrs. C:

    There has been no resoultion to date...

    We are waiting for the court to get back to us... since Dec. 14, 2007...and are told it is ask the court...why it is taking the time that it is.

    While we are pursuing the legal our only recourse...I know in the end...we all will stand before God...and be accountable to Him. May He show those responsible...for the unjust treatment...and killing of my son...the mercy that Sal...and my family in my son's behalf...are thus far being denied.

    A human son's and was a gift from God...unique...irreplaceable...fragile...and priceless.

    I visit my son's resting place weekly...we are all family is not...and can never be the same...and we all miss Sal...and grieve for day at a time...and moment to moment. He was and is very loved.

    Please keep our family...and our your thoughts and we continue to seek the justice owed to him.

    God bless those of you who recognize the injustice of what was done.

  18. aslinsibel:

    This is nice to know about the people who were very cruel and they should very careful about things while purchasing the guns.


  19. Kevin Smith:


    I would like to have more services from ur side

    Kevin Smith.