Jan 20, 2014
An Orange County jury acquitted two police officers who beat Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill man, to death in Fullerton, California in July 2011.
This verdict is simply outrageous. A surveillance video shows Thomas, confronted by several cops, sitting on the curb. Then one of the cops puts on gloves, tells him he’ll punch him, and grabs his arm. When Thomas, shirtless and unarmed, tries to walk away, six cops pile up on him and begin to beat him brutally.
Thomas’s desperate cries for help did not stop the cops’ violent binge. Suffering broken bones and brain injuries, Thomas died five days later.
When authorities refused to bring charges against the cops, Fullerton residents protested in the streets and packed city council meetings in outrage. Under pressure, the Fullerton police chief resigned. In June 2012, voters recalled three city council members, who had defended the murderous cops, by two-to-one margins.
When charges were finally brought after all this public outcry, it was against only two of the cops. And the trial was held in Santa Ana, not Fullerton: like so many times before, authorities were protecting police brutality under the guise of a “fair trial.” But the trial was anything but fair. The cops’ attorneys portrayed Thomas, the victim, as a drug abuser and a “potentially” violent man – as if any of this was relevant when several cops had him pinned down and under control.
“Legal experts” tried to explain away the senseless “not guilty” verdict by saying courts are “reluctant to question cops’ decisions during confrontations.” Kelly Thomas’s father Ron, himself a former sheriff’s deputy, put it in plain English: “Police officers everywhere can beat us, kill us, whatever they want, but it has been proven right here today they’ll get away with it.”
Only if we let them!