Reflecting an Absence of Precaution

Monday, February 6, 2006

The accidental shooting by a Fairfax County police officer of a man who posed no threat ["Fairfax Police Say Shooting Was Accident; Officer Kills Optometrist Suspected of Gambling," front page, Jan. 26] reminded me of an incident years ago.

A sailor under my command accidentally discharged a Colt automatic pistol he had been cleaning.

No harm was done because he obeyed the second of two safety precautions that were in force.

The first safety precaution -- which he violated -- was: Never chamber a round unless you intend to fire. He had been trained in the proper safety procedures, but he had not been intensively drilled in them. That was my fault.

The second safety precaution -- which he obeyed -- was: Never point a gun at anyone unless you intend to use it.




Optometrist Salvatore J. Culosi Jr. was suspected only of being a sports bookie, and yet the Fairfax County Police Department used a SWAT team to carry out a search warrant against him.

A sports bookie isn't a violent criminal, so why was it necessary to use a SWAT team? We don't live in a police state, and Fairfax police shouldn't carry out all search warrants as though they were trying to apprehend Osama bin Laden.

It is possible that Mr. Culosi was a bookie. But, sadly, he paid for this bad decision with his life.



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