Stacy Culotta is the 36-year-old P-Section woman who last September was at the center of an attempted suicide-by-cop. The eight-minute incident was recorded on one of the cops’ body cameras and resulted in the woman being immobilized by a cop’s Taser shot rather than injured or killed by a cop’s bullet even though cops were facing what they thought was a handgun. It was, in fact, a BB gun. (See the video below.)
Culotta was arrested and charged with obstruction, a misdemeanor, and aggravated assault, a third-degree felony. Her maximum punishment would have been five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. She escaped both.
On Friday, Culotta pleaded no contest to the aggravated assault charge before Circuit Judge J. David Walsh. The judge withheld adjudication and sentenced Culotta to three years’ probation. According to her probation order, She’ll have to pay $374 spread over the next 36 months to cover the cost of her supervision. She’ll have to forfeit all weapons and take a gun-safety course. She’ll have to complete 100 hours of community service and submit to a mental health evaluation.
Culotta, a certified emergency medical technician, had called 911 on Sept. 14 and cryptically mentioned a firearm. Three deputies responded, then a fourth, seeing Culotta in her screened-in patio, on a chair. She refused to get up. When one of the cops tried to open the door to the patio she walked in his direction and displayed what, to the cop, appeared to be a handgun. That started the tense confrontation.
When she raised the gun in the direction of one of the cops, Sgt. Michael van Buren shot her with a Taser dart, immobilizing her briefly and enabling the deputies to handcuff and arrest her. She would later explain, according to her arrest report, that she’d recently left in-patient care for being suicidal. She said that she’d refused to drop the gun because she wanted the cops to kill her. She said she’d been on several medications for mental health issues and that she’d been drinking.
Van Buren was later commended for maintaining control of the situation, and was named the deputy of the quarter that fall, then depouty of the year for the second time in his career, with that incident playing a substantial role in the decision.