The Death of an Officer: David John Chetcuti

David Chetcuti may have died in the line of duty, but his wife is not giving up on making Marvin Sullivan pays for the crime. Here is why and how far she’s come through the years. David John Chetcuti was 44-years old at the time of his death. Chetcuti would be shot and killed in the line of duty by Marvin Patrick Sullivan.

About David John Chetcuti

David John Chetcuti was the youngest out of his seven siblings. David was also the only one of his siblings that was physically born within the United States as well.

David’s parents decided right before David was born to leave their home on their tiny island of Malta and find a better life for their ever-growing family. The Chetcuti family went through the tough times of the German war and this event would ultimately cost them one of the lives of their infant along with another unborn fetus while they were hiding away in a bomb shelter.

Who could truly blame them for wanting a better life not only for themselves, but for their children also?

David was a prime reflection of his family. David had all his family’s most precious values including:

  • Hard work ethic
  • Honesty
  • Valuing your Possessions
  • Taking care of one another

As David was growing up, David would begin to slowly, but surely develop his sense of humor. David’s sense of humor was simple with a mischievous side. To his older sibling’s dismay, David would end up being the prankster of the family and took this newly found school with him off to high school.

While David was in high school, he would prank and pull stunts on some of his closest friends, teachers, and even relatives.

David would start off in the workforce right after he graduated high school. David would start working as a warehouseman, floor refinisher, and a gardener. David would also be heavily interested in cars. David would always tinker and fix up cars, when his friends asked him for a helping hand.

David had a knack for just about anything that you threw at him. Even if he had not done it before, once he experimented with it, he was a natural.

You can say that David was a jack of all trades, and he even mastered most of the trades as well. Beneath the surface, you would find out that David was not only just a good-humored gentleman, but he was also very hard-working as well. This came with his desire to one day start his career as a police officer.

Becoming a police officer was a dream that captivated his interest many times repeatedly. Finally, his loving wife, Gail would nurture this idea until he decided to take the plunge and start on his dream career.

David would finally apply and be accepted in the Millbrae Police Reserves. He finally started his dream in 1984. From then on while he was in the Millbrae Police Reserves, he would be riding around the community for four hours for his shift. Then David’s shifts would quickly turn into 8 plus hour shifts.

David was smart enough to stay silent, but always listen to his surroundings. David would gravitate towards police officers that were more into finding things. David loved working Friday and Saturday evenings.

Shortly after being a part of the Millbrae Police Reserves, David would become one of the most respected officers that everyone could count on.

Then in 1987, the Alameda Sheriff’s Office scouted out David and wanted to hire him full-time. David would soon enter the Alameda Sheriff’s Office academy. David would then graduate that same year in July. However, David’s heart was always going to be in Millbrae.

In December of that very same year, there was an opening in the Millbrae Police Department.

Even though David was building a serious reputation as a standup officer, that did not mean David would not be pranking his fellow officers when they were all back at the police station.

David’s humor brought the lightness to the police station. As many of the officers could use a laugh during the strains and stresses that police work puts on them.

David would then be promoted to the Field Training Officer. David was always dedicated to his job and always made sure he did a thorough job. He would always ensure all officers he graduated were dedicated and well-trained to take on the streets of Millbrae.

David also had a keen eye for motorcycles, so when the opening came up, he not only tested for the traffic officer position, but he also received a promotion as well.

David Chetcuti Death

However, this did not last long with his untimely death that happened on April 25, 1998. The maneuverability of the motorcycle would be just one factor in his death.

On April 25, 1998, David would hear a police officer from the San Bruno police department he had someone coming towards Millbrae southbound using US Highway 101 that was failing to yield.

The San Bruno police officer was stating that the car was finally pulling over just before the car would have entered Millbrae city limits. However, the officer asked for a cover unit, since David was close by, he decided to head that way, when the officer yelled through the speak that the suspect has a gun.

When David heard this, he raced to the scene of the crime, he went the wrong way on an off ran, and used the freeway to get to the scene as soon as possible.

David would drive right up to the two stopped vehicles and he did not locate an officer, but he did see a black man who was armed with a rifle that was pointing into the nearby bushes.

David yelled for the man to drop his weapon, but instead of dropping his weapon the man turned around and started advancing upon David. This is when David started firing his weapon at the suspect and the suspect started returning fire.

The suspect would hit David right above his bullet-resistant vest near his throat area. The suspect did not stop firing when he hit David, he continued to return fire. The suspect would walk up to David’s motionless body and fired another three shots directly into his face.

David would be shot a total of 15 times, before the suspect would lean over David’s lifeless body and locate David’s wallet. After the suspect took David’s wallet, he would also take David’s service weapon along with his ammo from David’s duty belt.

However, the only good news that would come out of this entire crime was that it took police officers only 15 minutes to apprehend the suspect, which was later found out to be Marvin Patrick Sullivan and brought him down to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office for further investigation.

However, the bad news about this crime is that Marvin Patrick Sullivan would use the crazy card and get admitted to the Atascadero State Mental for the Criminally Insane and not have charged against him when he was discharged.

Then in June of 1999, Judge Runde who worked in the San Mateo Superior Court, who also lived in Millbrae refused any and all debates that had to do with having Marvin Sullivan checked out by a psychiatrist of their choosing and ultimately would certified Marvin Sullivan as incompetent and could not withstand trial and have him sent back to the Atascadero State Mental for the Criminally Insane.

The Aftermath

The aftermath of this situation had changed many lives. There has been no closure for David’s three sons or his loving wife, Gail. The first year and a half after David was killed, Gail kept herself busy with several award ceremonies to honor the memory of her late husband, David.

Quentin Kopp, the State Senator would introduce into legislation that one part of US Highway 101 from Broadway-Burlingame to the San Francisco Airport exit be named after David. It was officially named the Officer Dave Chetcuti Memorial Highway.

Gail would go on to attend many of the national and state memorial ceremonies along with attending a Concerns of Police Survivors meetings to keep in constant contact with other survivors.

However, one of the biggest hurdles she would have to overcome is to fight the judicial system and get justice for her husband, David and have Marvin Patrick Sullivan get punished for what he had done.