Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sean Lanigan is lucky: At least the Fairfax County Police didn't murder him

Fairfax County, Virginia, is a Washington, D.C., bedroom community, and most people there owe their employment either to government or to businesses that serve government workers. It also is the home of a brutal and marauding police force that is quick to gun down unarmed people and to make false accusations against good people.

The sad case of Sean Lanigan, a teacher in Fairfax County falsely accused of child molestation and the victim of police and prosecutorial misconduct, is only one of many victims in that county, where the police and prosecutors run amok because they can. But I say that Lanigan is lucky, given the fate of Salvatore Culosi, who was gunned down by a member of a Fairfax County SWAT team.

Culosi, an optometrist who bet on a few football games, had made the mistake of befriending a Fairfax County detective whom he met in a bar. David J. Baucom, the detective, decided to see if he could get Culosi to bet more money, and he finally talked him into betting $2,000 on a game, which meant Culosi could be arrested in Virginia for "running a gambling operation."

Keep in mind that this "crime" was masterminded by the police, and then the authorities sent a SWAT team to arrest Culosi. When police arrived, Culosi walked out unarmed, and then he was gunned down by officer Deval Bullock. (As this article in Reason shows, Bullock's official story was a lie, and all that he received for punishment was three weeks off from work.)

The police were not content in murdering an unarmed man (and if any of us were to shoot down -- even accidentally -- an unarmed person, we would be tried for murder, since we don't wear a blue costume and tin badge). Radley Balko's Reason article explains:
In the months that followed (the shooting), Baucum continued his investigation, badgering Culosi's grieving friends and relatives after pulling their names and numbers from the cell phone he was carrying and a computer taken from his home the night he was killed. Steve Gulley, Culosi's brother-in-law, told The Washington Post the following April that Baucum called him and menacingly asked, "How much are you into Sal for?" Scott Lunceford, a lifelong friend of Culosi's, told the Post Baucum called him and accused him of being a gambler. The calls, Gulley told the paper, smacked of intimidation aimed at discouraging a lawsuit.
In the end, the family of Sal Culosi settled with Fairfax County for $2 million, but no one at the department was prosecuted and only Bullock received a mild punishment.

Following the shooting, Fairfax Chief David Rohrer wrote a report of the incident which turned out to be fabricated. As Balko explains, in response to Rohrer's claim that the shooting was accidental, as Bullock was bumped by a car door and the gun simply went off:
The Culosis were dubious. They believed Bullock mistook the cell phone their son was holding the night he was shot for a gun. They hired their own investigators, who determined, based on the department's own measurements of the crime scene, that when Bullock pulled the trigger he was away from his vehicle and much closer to Culosi than he had claimed. Using the recorded locations of shell casings, police vehicles, and Culosi's body, they produced computer animations showing that the incident could not have happened in the manner described by Chief Rohrer's report.
Writing false reports is a crime called "obstruction of justice," but Rohrer did not have to worry about being charged.

However, in Lanigan's case, Fairfax police threw the possibility of charging people who were contradicting the story the cops wanted to be told with "obstruction of justice." (Again, if one wishes to lie, it helps to be wearing a blue costume and tin badge. After all, government workers are "heroes" in Northern Virginia.) Writes Tom Jackman, who covered this story for the Washington Post:
But when others – staff, parents – tried to tell (Fairfax Det. Nicole) Christian anything she didn’t want to hear, she threatened them with prosecution for obstruction of justice, the staff members and parents said. School district investigator Steve Kerr’s investigative report, written after Lanigan’s acquittal, confirmed those claims, noting that: “Because of the jury’s decision, the detective [Christian] advised that she will not pursue criminal charges against [staff member] or [staff member].”
In other words, in the Orwellian world of Northern Virginia, lies told by government employees in blue costumes are the truth, while the truth told by Mere Mundanes is considered to be a lie.

But, Christian's smarmy tactics did not stop with threats against witnesses with exculpatory evidence. No, it gets MUCH worse:
In addition, the accuser’s close friend and corroborating witness to the incident quickly tried to retract her story, her mother said, but Christian wasn’t hearing it. In a letter to the mother of the witness from assistant superintendent Kevin North after the trial, North confirmed that “you requested a re-interview with your daughter, which the detective declined.”

Police feel that child victims and witnesses can be manipulated or intimidated into changing their story, and the witness’s mother said Christian told her, “if she changes her story, they’re going to wonder why she changed her testimony. She said, ‘I know how to do my job. Don’t tell me how to do my job.’ ”

But when Christian and assistant Fairfax prosecutor Katie Pavluchuk approached the witness and her mother outside Lanigan’s preliminary hearing in March 2010, the girl and her mother refused to speak with them. The girl then joined the accuser in recanting the claim that Lanigan had lain on top of the accuser.

Not long after that hallway encounter, Fairfax County launched a Child Protective Services investigation into the witness’s mother -- the reasons for which have not been made public for alleged inappropriate behavior by her boyfriend. The witness’s mother was eventually cleared of any allegations of misbehavior, but also had to undergo the pressure of being investigated. The girl and her mother have since moved from the area. (Emphasis mine)
In other words, if people want to tell the truth, the Fairfax County police counter with tactics of intimidation, just as they did to Sal Culosi's parents after police gunned down their son. And even after a jury quickly acquitted Lanigan, police and prosecutors STILL are insisting that he was guilty, apparently telling each other that it was an "O.J. verdict."

In other words, the police and their social services allies did what they do best: intimidate through false accusations. (No, I don't think that the social services investigation was a coincidence.)

For all of the accolades that Jackman laid on Christian for her supposed experience, one thing stands out: she clearly fabricates "evidence." First, she is so incompetent that even when she was at the school where the alleged molestation occurred, she never even looked a the room where the alleged incident was supposed to have occurred.

This is important, because (like the tiny bathroom in the Duke Lacrosse Case that could not have fit three young men raping a woman in the way that Crystal Mangum described) the room could not fit the tumbling mats that the lying 12-year-old accuser claimed she was placed. In other words, there was a key piece of evidence that Christian ignored, but then she threatened to charge people who pointed out that issue with "obstruction of justice."

But, it gets worse. Jackman writes:
Police declined to allow Nicole Christian, the lead detective on the case, to be interviewed for this article. Several months after Lanigan was acquitted, Fairfax prosecutors dismissed another of Christian’s child abuse cases in the middle of trial, a rarity, when the detective acknowledged that she had “misstated” some key facts in her sworn testimony. (Emphasis mine)
In police vernancular, a "misstatement" actually is a lie. In other words, Christian was caught fabricating material, but she still remains on the job and no doubt will be instrumental in destroying other innocent lives.

The people of Northern Virginia consider themselves to be "progressive," and if "progressive" means the endorsement of the lying, smothering state, I guess we can say that it is a "progressive" community. Yet, for all of the sophistication these people claim for themselves, in reality there is a brutal underside to this area. Police and prosecutors are free to lie, falsely accuse, and even commit murder, and nothing ever is going to be done about it. People who choose to live there do so at their own peril.

6 comments:

Doc Ellis said...

Greetings Dr Anderson-

Shared

Thank you for writing this essay

Doc Ellis 124

Anonymous said...

very good story What ever happen to Tonya
craft

Anonymous said...

Most people in the D.C. area would probably nominate Prince Georges County, Md, as having the most notorious police department. But this does bring to mind the memory of when an innocent Fairfax County resident was tailed home from where he worked in PG county by a PG county cop, and killed. Most articles are no longer on-line, but I did find this one:

http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20134412,00.html

Needless to say, Fairfax County never brought charges against the PG County cop ... a peverse sort of "professional courtesy", I guess.

dc

Anonymous said...

What an amazing story. I was told when a Judge rules, it is very unusual for another Judge to go against them. Do you think that is the way it works, I sure do.

Anonymous said...

I hope Mr. Lanigan files a civil suit against all involved, including the parents of the false accuser, the school system, the police and specifically Detective Christian. I hope he refuses to settle for anything less than an 8 figure amount and admissions on the part of all involved that they wrongfully prosecuted him, and dismissal of Detective Christian from the police form with an evaluation that keeps her out of police work forever.

Anonymous said...

It is definitely true that the FCPD operates as if it is unaccountable to the public and above the law. As a longtime resident of Ffx County, I have long viewed the police as an enemy of the citizens, based on a long pattern of arrogant and overreaching conduct. Regarding the Lanigan case, it was entirely predictable that police chief Rohrer issued a damage control statement in response to Jackman's reporting that acknowledged no wrongdoing and praised the corrupt Christian's "investigation". This, after repeatedly refusing to comment about this travesty over the last year despite their case getting utterly and totally smacked down by a citizen jury. I understand the reflex of a boss sticking up for his people in the face of outrage, but it would be nice if the boss stood by his people based on facts rather than a desire to remain unaccountable and refuse to admit the tragic wake their actions have left behind. Rohrer, like Christian, has no credibility. None.