Back in 2006, Sal Culosi was hanging out in a local Fairfax County, Virginia bar with a group of his friends discussing football and about wagering on an upcoming game. Detective David Baucum, who was off duty at the time, overheard the group of thirty something's dialogue and decided to take it upon himself to befriend Sal in order to start his own investigation of the group's alleged illegal gambling.
Sal and his friend's activities weren't technically in violation of Virginia's law regarding gambling, but Detective Baucum took care of that little Catch-22 by convincing Sal to up the ante to the point of breaking the law. How convenient for law enforcement to be able to utilize the law for their benefit, but I digress. Moving along...
Over the next few months of this unwarranted "investigation," Baucum would take what Sal considered to be fun wagers between friends in order to make watching sports more interesting, to a whole new level. Eventually Sal and Detective Baucum were betting more than $2,000 in a single day and under Virginia law, that was enough for police to charge Sal with running a gambling operation.
Before we move on it's important to remember that Sal and his friends were merely wagering small amounts of money on sporting events until this hard-on of a cop decided to try and fast-track his way to the top of the law enforcement career ladder by coaxing them to raise the stakes to an illegal proportion. Is Sal completely innocent in this consequence? I'm afraid not, but what happens next proves that innocent American's are being unduly policed while serious crimes go unattended.
"To Sal, betting a few bills on the Redskins was a stress reliever, done among friends," a friend of Sal's avowed. "None of us single, successful professionals ever thought that betting fifty bucks or so on the Virginia-Virginia Tech football game was a crime worthy of investigation."
On the night of January 24, 2006, Detective Baucum phoned Sal to arrange a time to stop by Sal's home in order to collect some recent winnings. Baucum arrived at the house and knocked on the door, Sal stepped outside, barefooted and wearing a T-shirt and jeans, to give Baucum his money. That's when the SWAT team moved in and for some reason found it necessary to take Sal's life.
Detective Deval Bullock, who had been on duty since 4:00 a.m. and hadn't slept in 17 hours, fired a bullet that pierced Sal's heart. Unfortunately Sal's very last words were directed to the guy he thought was his friend: "Dude, what are you doing?"
A mere two months after its ridiculous, unprovoked gambling investigation resulted in the death of an unarmed man, the Fairfax County Police Department issued a press release titled "Illegal Gambling Not Worth the Risk," which warned county residents not to participate in office betting pools associated with the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
Given the immediacy of said press release to Sal's unjustified death, residents could be forgiven for thinking the police department believed wagering on sports was a crime punishable by a SWAT team-style execution.
This sad, outlandish story may be dated, but it isn't an isolated situation. And until we hold these individuals accountable for their asinine actions they will continue their storm-trooper tactics that kill innocent American citizens each year. Be the change, become involved.
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