Blue Byline

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Trooper’s killer a stereotype for hatred, cowardice

Post by Brian O'Neill on Feb. 26, 2012 at 6:30 pm with 11 Comments »
February 27, 2012 7:18 pm

Last Thursday in Gorst, forensic experts arrived to process an early morning homicide. They set up a logic-driven crime scene, incorporating technology and methods unknown even a few years ago. When pieced together, these efforts will give investigators an inside look at the death of Washington State Patrol Trooper Tony Radulescu.

And none of it will make any sense.

The answers such tests will provide – the whens, whats and hows – are important, make no mistake. The information provided by photographs and tire imprints, from detailed interviews and follow-up calls, and from all the high-tech tools and forensic analysis at the disposal of a 21st century law enforcement agency will help police and the courts reach appropriate legal decisions.

Yet the smiling face of Tony Radulescu  - immigrant, military service veteran, seasoned trooper with the Washington State Patrol, and a cherished father – begs an answer to the most basic interrogative: Why?

As the hours become days and the days weeks, we will learn more about the distorted world of Trooper Radulescu’s killer (who does not deserve to be named in this column). We already know he was a violent young man with a lengthy criminal history (TNT 2/24). We can infer that, like so many other violent individuals, his hatred for cops increased at the same rate as his violent tendencies. He grew accustomed to dealing with adversity with his fists, especially if his adversary were smaller and female. His violent nature insured that the police were the one constant in his life, the providers of a perverse source of attention. Predictably, he threatened to kill the next cop that arrested him.

Trooper Radelescu knew none of this when he stopped the killer, the veritable ticking time bomb, in his vehicle during the early morning hours last Thursday.

Trooper Tony Radelescu/ AP Photo

The professional world of state troopers like Tony Radulescu is a study in contrast. A brief amount of time is spent in the quiet comfort of a patrol car driving down a lonesome highway, only to be interrupted by the chirp of a radio. Suddenly, the location switches to the shoulder of a congested freeway, where the work is a mix of adrenalin, flashing lights, blaring sirens, screams of pain and fear, racing traffic and the clashing roles of protector and enforcer.

Working the freeways and highways of our state is a very perilous job. As a young officer I stopped a car on the inside shoulder of I-5 and was almost propelled into the fast lane by the vortex of a passing semi truck. Since then I rarely venture onto the freeway except to help troopers with car collisions, a task which they handle with ease and precision despite the proximity of speeding traffic. They also assist stranded motorists, fix flats and generally try to keep us from killing each other on the roadways in our state.

This is the multi-faceted and hazardous job at which Trooper Tony Radulescu excelled. It was in this role that he patrolled the roads and highways, stopping more cars than most of us who work for city or county agencies. Making traffic stops, though, is a shell game that will eventually uncover a violent individual, and all the training in the world is no guarantee of a positive outcome.

Trooper Radelescu never knew his killer, a fact which brings us back to the unanswered question: Why did Trooper Radulescu’s professional career, his hopes and dreams, his role as a family man and friend – his very life – end at the hands of a man whom he had never met?  The answer is not buried in the crime scene analysis. Nor is it on a psychological report wedged into the killer’s criminal history file.

The answer is simple: This murder was nothing more than the inarticulate rage of a child who never had the courage to be a man.

Trooper Tony Radelescu, gone but not forgotten.



Leave a comment Comments → 11
  1. One of the places to protect our officers is the community.
    What the neighbor or the mother-in-law can tell the officer
    or dispatcher can be important. They should be encouraged
    to come forward, even anonymously.

  2. dinseattle says:

    Everyone seems to hate cops, some more than others as in this case, but no one reflects on the fact that it is a chosen profession. It is one to protect and serve. It is a duty to community. What people seem to forget is that these officers have families who love them waiting patiently for them to come home, hoping and praying that they do not get that knock on the door or the phone call that may end all of their hopes and dreams. We know the risks, but we take them because sometimes there are higher powers that decide the outcome. Was Trooper Radelescu’s death unnecessary and callous? Yes. The why is just something we will never know. The only solace we can take from this is that he died doing something he and other officers do every day – serve and protect the citizens of Washington. As it says in the Bible, “No greater love has this, than to lay your life down for another.” RIP Trooper Radelescu. You have done well. Your shift is over.

  3. auntyanny says:

    Thank you for this article. My husband has been with the Patrol for 30 years +/-. He bleeds State Patrol blue and now he sheds tears of the same hue. Thank you for pointing out a few of the differences between a Trooper and a City Officer or County Deputy, but bottom line, law enforcement is law enforcement regardless of the color of the uniform. You all put your lives on the line and I am so grateful for each and every one of you. Our whole State Patrol family thanks you for your kind words, compassion and support.

  4. Chippert says:

    dinseattle, you are very, very wrong in your comment that everyone hates cops. I think that most of us have the utmost respect and admiration for those who put their lives on the line to serve our society in the role of law enforcement officer. Our hearts break when a senseless incident such as this takes the life of one of those officers.

    Hopefully the analysis of this crime will contribute even the tiniest bit to protecting the lives of those who protect ours. Chances are that it will not as there is no way for an officer to tell with absolute certainty whether that traffic stop involves a citizen such as you and I who deserves courtesy and respect while enforcing the law, or a crazy such as this sub-human criminal who will attempt to take his/her unreasoning rage out on the officer.

    Rest in peace, Trooper Radelescu. We honor your sacrifice.

  5. Why you ask. Let me ask do you believe our citizenry to be basically inferior as compared to our Canadian or European counter parts? If you believe we are not, then why is it they don’t seem to kill as often as we do? Could it be our relatively free access to guns? It seems to me to be a bit more difficult to kill with a knife. I’m I wrong?

  6. dinseattle says:

    Mr. Chippert, I did not say everyone hates cops. What I said is that it “seems”. Maybe a poor choice of wording, but you get the hint. I am amazed at the strength his son has portrayed since this tragedy. I assume it is partly shock but he must be a replica of his father. He mentioned that his father was the glue that held his family together, but he too has shown great reserve and courage throughout this ordeal. Not only was Trooper Radelescu a good officer, but also apparently a great father too. Those two things simultaneously are a hard feat to accomplish because both require so much time and commitment. He did well.

  7. elmerfudd says:

    We already have a three strikes law, but it seems to me that we could use a repeat offender law as well. I’d call it 10 for 10. Basically, if you commit 10 felonies or gross misdemeanors you would then automatically get a 10 year sentence. I’d say that 9 second chances is very reasonable before dropping the hammer on someone.

    A law like this likely would have Joshua Blake doing time right now and Tony Radulescu would still be alive.

  8. Strict gun control, bring it on. Now.

  9. speakeasy says:

    Two questions:

    1) Would it be possible to “flag” the registered-owner data retrieved by an officer or dispatcher when a traffic stop is made, such that a r/o with a background of violent actions or threats to “kill police” would be highlighted in the search? If so, police could call for backup before approaching the vehicle……especially when the traffic stop is made late at night.

    2) If that’s not possible, how about comparing the r/o name against a list of statewide violent or “kill” offenders, as a means of providing a better status as to the stopped vehicle, before it is approached?

    3) Do WSP officers wear bullet-proof vests? If not, perhaps a vest could be put-on, as warranted, especially for unassisted, late-night stops. This isn’t a cure-all, but would likely afford a bit more protection.

  10. WSPfamily says:

    As a family member of a few WaSP officers and other police agencies, I send my condolences out to Trooper Tony’s immediate family along with condolences to his brothers and sisters in uniform.

    Speakeasy, I’ve asked the same questions regarding officer safety, can these officers not have some sort of warning regarding who may be behind the wheel of a vehicle they are pulling over, or someone that they have encountered on the streets. One would think that it would be a simple task with the technology today. Granted you never know who really is behind the wheel of a vehicle.

    Rest in Peace Trooper Tony, you’ve answered your last Call, and that is to heaven.

  11. Brian O'Neill says:

    Thanks for all of your comments. Here’s a quick additional answer for speakeasy in regards to information available to officers during traffic stops:

    Retrieving DOL information on vehicles is done on a routine basis by police officers, either via their laptop computers or with the help of dispatchers. The information that returns on a plate query does not always have relevant information on the registered owner, i.e. his or her driver’s information, criminal history, potential warrants or a “caution” (or flag, as you put it). Even though that information is sometimes available, police officers must consider tactics as well. In other words, if there is a potential threat in the vehicle in front of you then staring at a computer screen waiting for information is not the smart place to be.

    And yes, just about all cops wear kevlar vests while on duty these days.

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