As we take in the gun-to-a-snowball-fight travesty, a reminder that D.C.s MPD isn’t the only place around here to employ folks who shouldn’t have guns: Saturday’s Washington Post had a story from Tom Jackman that tried to keep some attention on last month’s killing of David Masters by a Fairfax County police officer.
Masters was shot from behind as he sat in his car after being pulled over. He didn’t have a weapon. Not even a snowball.
The police and other law officials in Fairfax County refuse to release any information about Masters killing.
From Jackman’s piece:
[Masters] drove 50 miles from his $3,600 trailer in Fredericksburg, stopped outside a landscaping business in Fairfax County and pulled a bunch of tall flowers out of a planter. A few minutes later, the police spotted him and signaled to him to pull over. At Route 1 and Fort Hunt Road, he stopped, and the officers got out of their car. And then, perhaps, Masters did something. The Fairfax police won’t say what. A furtive gesture? A yell? And a Fairfax officer shot through Masters’s rear passenger window and killed the unarmed man as he sat in his Chevrolet Blazer.
One month after the former Green Beret and disabled carpenter was slain, Fairfax police have not publicly said why Masters, 52, was shot in the middle of a busy intersection on the gray afternoon of Friday the 13th in November. They won’t say who fired the shots, what Masters did to provoke the shooting, how many shots were fired or what the many witnesses at the intersection told them they saw.
The killing of Masters is only the latest case of a police officer shooting unarmed folks in Fairfax County. And the silent routine is the M.O. the county always uses in these situations.
Two of the higher profile wholly unjustifiable killings by Fairfax County:
Sal Culosi, an optometrist with no police record, was shot by Deval Bullock, a Fairfax County SWAT team member, while standing not fully dressed outside his home in January 2006, as he talked to an undercover cop. Police said Culosi was about to be arrested for running a booking operation, though at the time of his murder the operation’s only betting client was apparently the undercover cop. Robert Horan, Fairfax County’s top prosecutor at the time, declined to press charges against Bullock for killing Culosi, who would have turned 41 last week. The killing was an accident, the county said. Bullock, a D.C. native, didn’t even get tossed off the force or have the .45 he killed Culosi with taken away. “I’m afraid of my government, all because of what I’ve seen here,” a friend of Culosi’s told me last year.
And, in 2000, Prince Jones, an unarmed Howard University student, was shot at least eight times in the back in a Falls Church driveway by Cpl. Carlton Jones (no relation), a P.G. County undercover cop who’d been following him for hours. Carlton Jones later said he had the wrong man. Horan declined to prosecute in that case, also. A civil court jury awarded Prince Jones’ survivors more than $3 million in a wrongful death suit.
Anybody objective source who looked into the evidence of the killings of Culosi or Prince Jones would be appalled. But there was no video, unlike in the snowball fight. And if there’s no video, the police get to write the story. So, not coincidentally, the public outcry for any action after both murders was almost non-existent.
Horan’s longtime assistant, Raymond Morrogh, is now commonwealth’s attorney for Fairfax County. Morrogh will decide whether to take action in Masters killing. So we’ll learned if he’ll continue his old boss’s pattern of allowing police officers to shoot unarmed men in Fairfax County.
But Morrogh has set a different sort of law-and-order tone for his jurisdiction. The same day Jackman’s story about Masters appeared, the Post also had an article about Erick Williamson, a man Morrogh prosecuted for walking around his Fairfax home while “intentionally nude.”