WASHINGTON – The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the Eastern District of Virginia, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced today that there is insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against a Fairfax County Police Department officer who shot and killed Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi Jr. on January 24, 2006.
Officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Civil Rights Division, and the FBI met earlier today with representatives of Dr. Culosi’s family to advise them of this decision.
The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the FBI conducted an independent investigation of the shooting incident and carefully reviewed all of the evidence. During the investigation, federal officials reviewed reports generated by the Fairfax County Police Department Criminal Investigations Bureau; forensic evidence reports; the autopsy report for Dr. Culosi; and the opinion of Dr. Roger M. Enoka, a human movement consultant. FBI agents also re-interviewed a number of witnesses who were previously interviewed by local investigators. After careful examination of all of the evidence, the Department of Justice, the USAO, and the FBI determined that the tragic incident did not constitute a prosecutable violation of the federal criminal civil rights statutes.
In order to prove a violation of the applicable federal criminal civil rights laws, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a law enforcement officer willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right. Neither accident, mistake, fear, nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish such a criminal violation.
Experienced civil rights prosecutors reviewed the voluminous reports generated during the investigation. Based on that review, federal officials determined that the evidence was insufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officer who fatally shot Dr. Culosi acted willfully, that is with the specific intent to do something the law forbids. Accordingly, the Department has closed this investigation without prosecution.
The Civil Rights Division, the USAO, and the FBI devoted many hours and significant resources to a complete and careful review of the events surrounding Dr. Culosi’s tragic death. The decision not to pursue criminal charges is based on painstaking analysis of the facts developed during a lengthy and thorough investigation. The Department of Justice remains committed to investigations of this kind and stands ready to devote the resources required to ensure that all allegations of serious civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated. The Department of Justice aggressively prosecutes criminal civil rights violations whenever the evidence developed in these investigations warrants doing so.