Monopoly of Force Monday: Kelly Thomas

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58 Responses

  1. jdgalt says:

    If Thomas were black, there would have been riots and burning cop cars when the jury found his killers innocent.

    Maybe the black people have the right idea.

  2. Ken White says:

    Jesus Christ, jdgalt, go be a dipshit somewhere else.

  3. Ed T. says:

    jdgalt wroteth thusly:

    "If Thomas were black, there would have been riots and burning cop cars when the jury found his killers innocent."

    Heck, the same thing (riots & burning cop cars) would have happened had their sports team won the championship game. I would *never* accuse drunken sports fans with having the right idea.

    ~EdT.

  4. Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    I am starting to think that Jury selection is getting way too permissive if it was impossible for at least one person with a soul to be on that jury.

    Of course, when the prosecution and the defense want the same outcome…

  5. SirThoreth says:

    Mad Rocket Scientist, I'm not entirely sure the prosecution did want the same outcome in this case, given how unusual it was to have them charged in the first place. They could have simply swept it under the rug had that been the case.

  6. jb says:

    I had heard about this case, but hadn't heard that he was the son of a retired cop.

    Guess the fraternity in-group is pretty narrow.

  7. Waldo says:

    Clark, I'm beginning to come around to you.

  8. AlphaCentauri says:

    Several observations:
    1. The cops seemed genuinely surprised that he was unresponsive when they rolled him over. They didn't realize they were doing anything lethal at the time.
    2. If you're on your stomach and someone is sitting on your back, voluntarily putting your hands behind your back isn't an option. You will reflexively attempt to push up from the ground to make room to breathe. The cop who was demanding that he put his hands behind his back while Thomas yelled that he couldn't breathe didn't understand Thomas simply couldn't have obeyed his command even if he wanted to.
    3. Despite the injuries, the cops and paramedics are pretty casual about getting him in an ambulance. He's just a homeless dirtball. He's a problem they wish would go away, not a person whose life is important. (Just like some people would advocate the deaths of government bureaucrats without thinking of them as human beings with families and connections within their communities.)
    4. "He's on something" seems to be equivalent to "He's a magical creature with superhuman strength and endurance." Drugs don't give you any more strength than fighting for your life would do. But many people have that belief about PCP, among other drugs. With six cops and four extremities, cops could sit on one extremity each with no one on the thorax and let him holler a while.
    5.The photo of his face post-beating on wikipedia doesn't seem to correlate with the autopsy photos:
    http://www.scpr.org/news/2013/12/05/40772/kelly-thomas-trial-paramedic-s-testimony-to-start/
    While he had facial trauma, it sounds from the autopsy that he suffered permanent brain damage because he went without oxygen while his thorax was being compressed, not because of the head trauma itself. The facial swelling seen in the photo can occur even without trauma, due to the amount of IV fluids ICU patients require to maintain their blood pressures.

    I suspect what happened is that the cop that was sitting on him finally got his hands behind his back, Thomas quieted down (because he could no longer draw enough breath to shout anymore) and they didn't understand that suffocation, like drowning, is a quiet death. He probably would have been pressing his own face and knees into the sidewalk trying to lift his chest, leading to the "he's still fighting" comments.

    Part of this is a training issue. Cops need to study inadvertent deaths and injuries of subjects in custody, just like surgeons have conferences to discuss surgical complications. Part of it is burn-out. They see stuff that would sicken normal people, and they get to immune to normal emotional reactions. They need to be rotated off of that kind of duty on a regular basis.

  9. sinij says:

    The risk of this happening to a regular citizen is insignificant enough that we might be forced to put our shoes through the scanner on the way in.

    Yes, police brutality is regrettable, but seeing acquittal by jury leads me to believe we don't have all the facts. No matter how much you massage the selection process, it is simply impossible to get jury full of blood-thirsty psychopaths cheering on for indiscriminate murder of homeless people.

  10. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    but seeing acquittal by jury leads me to believe we don't have all the facts

    That's just circular logic. You're essentially saying that the jury's verdict is probably right because the jury would have found otherwise if the officers were guilty.

    In any event, the video is right there: what out-of-frame facts do you believe would justify the police beating this man to death?

    it is simply impossible to get jury full of blood-thirsty psychopaths cheering on for indiscriminate murder of homeless people

    But it is very possible to get a jury full of people who are sick of homeless weirdos bothering them when they walk downtown, and/or are extremely predisposed to believe the testimony of a police officer (especially when six of them are saying the same thing).

  11. WhangoTango says:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/a-death-on-descent/

    Another case where people sat on someone until he "stopped struggling".

  12. Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    SirThoreth – A DA may bring charges because of public outcry, but that doesn't mean he will enthusiastically prosecute the case.

    Et. al. – This is really very simple, if a homeless person assaulted you such that you felt cause to defend yourself and in the process you beat the man to death with multiple blows & help from your friends, do you honestly think you, as a private citizen, would be acquitted just because you were justified in hitting back?

    At some point, we are all expected to be able to determine when enough is enough, and we should, without a doubt, hold the police to a much higher standard than the common citizen (since they are supposed to be trained).

  13. Grifter says:

    @Alpha Centauri:

    I'm gonna go a little medic-nerd…

    I believe the medics were originally called for one of the cops (injured arm, w/ initial reports that some officers had "broken bones", yet eventually not-a-one of 'em did), and then they see them casually standing around a suspect bleeding onto the concrete. While they aren't responding, perhaps, with the urgency one might expect, remember they're being told he was fighting them, is likely to do so again, and, from the cops' demeanor, that he may be bloody but isn't in bad enough shape to scare them. (You can hear the guy I presume to be the Captain telling his crew to get face masks in case Kelly starts coughing/spitting up blood).

    Which defense of their actions doesn't really justify ALL the medics' behavior, mind–at 29 minutes, someone says his POx is in the 70s, and only then is the Captain asking whether the guy has "Reps" (Which really should be ReSps, but it's a pet peeve of mine how much shit gets twisted by field folks who then seem often to forget altogether the original correct term…say it RIGHT, dammit). They also seem (I think I hear them leaving) to be going code 2, which for a Trauma pt. with that much facial trauma, an un-cleared airway, and a POx in the 70s seems not to be the call I'd make.

    Reading the wikipedia article on this (and knowing very little, to be honest), I'm particularly intrigued (read: horrified) by the Defense doctor. His cause of death wasn't asphyxiation…even though Kelly's airway was effed up and his POx was in the toilet immediately after? Even though he became unresponsive and he coded on the way?

    I'm also curious what the run reports said, since the doc claimed "four medically trained professionals saw him breathing well enough not to intervene" when that's directly contradicted by the audio and video. "Vilke said he didn’t know what caused Thomas’ heart to stop later in the ambulance on the way to the hospital….Vilke said he didn’t think mechanical compression factored into Thomas’ death."

    Nope, the guys sitting on his chest and also punching him had nothing to do with it. He just died, y'know, natural causes. (I also particularly like how they tried to schlep blame on the hospital, even though his heart stopped on the way TO the hospital…that the tube dislodged after they got him back as a vegetable was pretty much the least of his problems).

  14. Grifter says:

    And just 'cause I wanted to see if I was crazy, I found a transcript! All the horror, now in text form:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/189044249/Full-Transcript-of-the-Night-Fullerton-Police-Killed-Kelly-Thomas

    And yes, 76 POx w/ NO respirations. But he definitely wasn't asphyxiated because the people paying me don't want me to say tha–I mean because there's no evidence of it, so he died of natural causes. Maybe those drugs he wasn't on at the time?

  15. Bret G says:

    Grifter, you've somehow left me even angrier than I was when I first read all this.

  16. Kristof Provost says:

    It's certainly a training issue, but it's not just an issue with their arrest techinque. The biggest problem is the attitude and initial conversation.

    Things started to go wrong before they tried to put him in handcuffs. Thomas was clearly cooperating (somewhat) while the first officer consistently escalates the situation. He was stitting down when the officer first hit Thomas who (rather unfortunately in this case) tried to defend himself which lead to the initial beating with nightsticks.

    Thomas perhaps wasn't being very smart, but it's the police officers who turned what could have been a calm conversation into murder and they're the ones who are supposed to know how to handle situations like this!

  17. Tom says:

    Words do fail me. If that video – and all the other evidence too – isn't enough to sustain even a charge of "involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force" then I'm struggling to think what can? Perhaps that scene from "Schindler's List" where Goeth walks along a line of inmates shooting them randomly in the head? Or would he successfully plead that as a "peace officer" he was in true fear for his life and acting to subdue a dangerous situation in line with his training? After all in this case we have the quote:

    "These peace officers were doing their jobs," he said. "They were operating as they were trained, and they had no malice in their hearts."

    Yep, only obeying orders. That bit about ""Now see these fists? They're going to fuck you up." – well that's not malice, that's the gift of prophecy.

  18. rob says:

    When and how did it become acceptable for the police to beat a man to death because he was not following instructions? I understand that police have a tough job but there is no justification for tasing, beating, striking or otherwise bullying someone because they are not sitting still or not moving fast enough or lipping off, what sort of incompetent, malicious prosecution loses this case?

  19. AlphaCentauri says:

    I suspect the acquittal was less a case that the jury thought it was justified than that the jurors couldn't say with certainty which officer's actions were lethal in that clusterfuck on the video.

    Now IRL, the prosecutor would charge all the officers with a laundry list of charges with hundreds of years of potential incarceration and wait for someone to flip, but I doubt he would have had the balls to treat them like "civilians."

    "Crushed trachea" sounds like someone had a nightstick in front of his throat, though.

  20. onehsancare says:

    I have to wonder how skillfully prosecuted the trial was; instead of one of the DDAs who try murder cases week in and week out, a politician who (a) hadn't tried a case of any sort for FIFTEEN YEARS and (b) had every incentive to see not guilty verdicts issue from the jury was the trial lawyer?

    I'm sure he gave it his very best.

  21. JMF says:

    Clark,
    Hypothetically speaking, what variety of comment on a video such as this might get one arrested in your legal jurisdiction?

  22. NI says:

    Just out of curiosity, has any of the jurors given an interview to explain their verdict?

  23. That Anonymous Coward says:

    Problem – Once upon a time people called the police to handle problems. They response wasn't to show up for a fight, but to use the best tool… listening. Sometimes listening to someone tell their story helps the situation calm down. An impartial 3rd party with the aura of authority can settle people down.
    Problem – In our rush to give these officers more tools, we ignored that it is human nature to want to play with the new toy. Giving them more 'less than lethal' options, gave them a reason to switch to using those at the first chance.
    Problem – We turned them into a paramilitary force. We sell them military grade equipment based on the fear the bad guys have it. The use of these new toys leads to the previous problem.
    Problem – The aura of authority leads people to give them the benefit of the doubt in many situations that do not directly effect them. Watching the video some people still feel he got what he deserved, he was an icky homeless thug who was waiting in the dark to jump nice normal people. So few people seem to have the ability to insert themselves/people they know into the same situation and see how horrible it would be if it happened to them.
    Problem – To keep the aura of authority clean means that sometimes we let shit slide. And guess what a shit covered slope is pretty slippery. Each "pass" for something little adds up and more and more gets considered to be something "little".
    Problem – The public is trained to respect authority and fear that which is different. A homeless man with a history of drug use and violence is suddenly the worst possible thing. People can imagine that evil force attacking them and are glad that he has been stopped. The boogeyman must be stopped so we can all be safe, ignoring what you allow to pass without criticism today becomes allowed and eventually might be visited upon you.

    Society helped make this problem and finds itself painted into a corner.
    One the one side more "tools" for cops became more "tools" for bad guys. This cycle feeds itself.
    We demand that they be superhuman in their duty to protect us, but to treat the "deserving" like nothing but crap. It becomes a problem only when they make the mistake of treating regular folk like one of the deserving… and then we still do nothing to address the problems that lead to it.

    A man was murdered by police, who were angry at having to do their job and deal with someone we are supposed to have a system in place to help. Hate what the cops did, but look at your own hands. You got some lower taxes at some point, because we shredded the safety net that might have gotten this young man help instead of dead. How you allow the lowest in society to be treated is exactly the same treatment you should expect… there is the lesson we need to learn in this. One day some cop will decide your not an upstanding citizen, and the system will rubber stamp what happened to you and shift the blame away from those who deserve it. Then you'll be yelling and angry… and I'll look at you and remind you this is the world you wanted. There is no quick fix, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to.

  24. That Anonymous Coward says:

    @NI – IIRC media coverage has said it is a very "law and order" kind of community where they rarely question the word of the authorities.

  25. AlphaCentauri says:

    A man was murdered by police, who were angry at having to do their job and deal with someone we are supposed to have a system in place to help. Hate what the cops did, but look at your own hands.

    ^ This

  26. Paranoid Android says:

    @Grifter At one point after he had stopped moving (and was still on the ground) someone clearly says that he "sh*t himself". If the POx reading was that low, no movement, and spontaneous loss of bodily function, isn't that a clear indication of death (or at least near-death)? If that's the case, then he clearly coded at least 2 minutes before he was moved to the board, and at least 5 minutes before he was ever put in a transport. With those timelines, he was never going to recover – and the cops did everything they could to prevent treatment (by stating that he shouldn't be moved because he'll fight again).

  27. G Joubert says:

    It's not just Fullerton. It's everywhere. In fact, the Oregon case of James Chasse is very similar, and if anything even more egregious.

  28. Grifter says:

    @Paranoid Android:

    "Coding" means "Code Arrest"–in other words, heart stopping (Or at least no pulse, electrical activity or VF/VT notwithstanding). You'd be amazed how long some people can compensate…and how quickly they can tank when they STOP compensating. The lit up box they had near him was a heart monitor. I don't know/couldn't see them apply it, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt and say that he got leads on him at some point. Further, the POx shows a HR, so at the very least they had some measure, and since they mentioned the POx reading, I'd bet they'd mention the lack of a pulse if it hadn't read one (Or had read a very high/very low one).

    I wager (But don't know) that he was merely in a coma (merely being a relative term), but was clearly in a downward spiral, hence the coding on the way in.

    No movement doesn't necessarily mean much…they never seemed to do any kind of assessment for, for example, pain response (sternal rub, eyelid, earlobe, etc), so it's possible he wasn't "near death" yet…he was just "nearing death". (Again, relative terms….). They called for an ambu bag, which is that bag that you see in movies and stuff where the medics are squeezing it to vet ventilation, but didn't seem to do anything aggressive airway-wise on scene, though they may have hopped to in the back of the rig.

    Him shitting himself…well, he was tazed. 4 times. He was also schizophrenic, and suffered a beating to the point of unconsciousness. Any one of those could cause it, so I don't find it significant, really, in clinical terms.

  29. AlphaCentauri says:

    All the POx's I've ever seen won't display a reading at all until they detect pulsation, in fact, so it's safe to assume he had a pulse and pressure at that point. But a young guy would normally have a pulse ox in the high 90% range. At that point, there was no one on his chest and no reason he should not have had a normal pulse ox. If you have only one measured data point of 70% and one assumed data point of 95-100%, he's on a pretty steep downward trend. His airways were filling with blood at that point. He needed airway management and suction.

  30. Grifter says:

    @Alpha Centauri:

    I know! He seems unresponsive, but they don't do anything to manage a bloodfilled airway O/S? Not even a turkey baster suction unit? Just "Keep him on his side"?

    I will say that he must have had SOME pulsation, but he might have had VERY LIMITED pulsation (in theory), and the POx would read…it's sensing for changes and coloration, and it works (at least sorta) during CPR, so it doesn't take much to get something out of it. I have a monitor and a portable POx unit (because lifepacks are hell on cords so the POx fails on occasion), and the POx reading does show up before it gives a pulse reading…it doesn't show until there's SOME kind of pulse reaction, but it can get enough, or at least THINK it got enough, relatively easily…but then if it was just THINKING it got enough, the pulse would be all outta whack (technical term).

    I HAVE had pulse oxes that weren't even on patients trying to alarm me that the POx was low, so I know how easy that light sensor can try to give me something.

  31. Canvasback says:

    That sure didn't have anything to do with law enforcement. We should all remember the night Kelly Thomas was killed.

  32. Marconi Darwin says:

    Hear me out before you think it is a conspiracy.

    The OC DA is Tony Rackaukas. This is like the fourth high profile case he has lost in a little over a month. He is one who just craves to up his percentage and works hard to not take on any cases that makes his LEO unit look bad.

    He most certainly dropped this with sloppy presentation.

  33. Charles Gray says:

    It’s sad to say, but I know more than a few people who cheered Thomas’ death. Mental illness remains a condition that it is still, in many quarters, socially acceptable to be not simply prejudiced against, but proudly prejudiced against.

  34. JTM says:

    For those who are unhappy with the jury's verdict, are there systemic changes that you would suggest to change the outcomes of similar future cases?

  35. Dan Weber says:

    Part of it is burn-out. They see stuff that would sicken normal people, and they get to immune to normal emotional reactions. They need to be rotated off of that kind of duty on a regular basis.

    A little part of me wants the police to be drafted from the population, like jury members are, for six-month shifts. Like another little part of me wants carnivores (like myself) to need to work at slaughterhouses at some point in their lives.

    Specialization is great for economic efficiency and for personal freedom grounds, but the soul-crushingness of some things ought be shared amongst the population that benefits from it.

  36. Kilroy says:

    And still nothing from Clark concerning the "A Funny Joke" thread. Guess it is easier to be silent than to admit to being wrong. As he is likely in this case as well.

  37. Clark says:

    @Dan Weber

    A little part of me wants the police to be drafted from the population, like jury members are, for six-month shifts.

    I'm coming more and more to believe that if we do have a government, sortition is the best way to staff it.

  38. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Kilroy

    Guess it is easier to be silent than to admit to being wrong. As he is likely in this case as well

    I share your sentiment that Clark's failure to acknowledge that the facts upon which he based his outrage in the earlier post were, to put it charitably, less certain than he portrayed, is not admirable.

    But with respect to this matter, you can see the video for yourself. What facts not available in the video would excuse the officers' behavior?

  39. Kilroy says:

    Okay, I watched the video… and a guy is fighting and kicking cops until they are able to pin him the ground and looks like a big cop sits on him. Little surprised and not quite sure what they basis for the charges were based on the video.

  40. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @kilroy

    a guy is fighting and kicking cops

    And who escalated the situation from one in which people were talking to people were swinging clubs?

    until they are able to pin him the ground

    At which point the officers continue to hit him. Numerous times.

    Little surprised and not quite sure what they basis for the charges were based on the video.

    Well, how about we start with the fact that these officers started a physical confrontation with a man who was not threatening them in any way. Then proceeded to literally beat him to death when he presented no reasonable threat to six (6!) officers.

    Seriously, do you really disagree that the police acted wrongfully here?

  41. Kilroy says:

    Was there volume? I'm at work so always have it on mute. I couldn't tell who escalated the situation except that he started running and then 2nd cop started swinging his stick as he fled.

    I didn't see any strikes from the cops after he was pinned. I saw some while he was still kicking and hitting at them, but nothing like the Rodney King type situation.

    The video didn't catch the physical confrontation as he fled off screen. When the video finds them, he's kicking and punching at the cop. I didn't see anything that would show that the cops were trying to kill him. If i'm missing something, let me know, but just not seeing what I expected to see from all the hub bub.

  42. Gabe says:

    There is volume and you should watch it with the sound enabled. During the beating you hear Kelly crying out for his life and for help, saying that he can't breathe before finally going silent (and it continues past that point). Even before that, while Kelly is still seated around 15 minutes in the officer tells Kelly “Now you see my fists? They’re getting ready to fuck you up.” as he puts on latex gloves. It is still pretty damning even without sound, but with sound it is much, much worse.

  43. Kilroy says:

    I'll try to watch it with sound at home tonight. How did a camera that far away pick up sound? or has it been merged with a police recording?

  44. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Kilroy

    Frankly, your interpretation of the video is remarkable. Go to 15:30 in the video. Mr. Thomas is sitting down, not making any threatening moves toward the officer. The officer hits/grabs him, and he gets up and puts his hands up, palms out. He doesn't try to strike the officers or make any aggressive moves toward them. Thomas tried to avoid getting hit by the clubs being swung by the officers, he didn't try to "flee."

    Tell me this: what justification do you believe the officers' had for first swinging their clubs at Thomas? What did he do to deserve being beaten in the first place?

    And if you didn't see any strikes after Thomas was on the ground, then either you didn't watch the video or you're just not being honest. For jebus' sake, just look at 19:00-20:00 of the video and try and tell me that they didn't hit him on the ground.

    I didn't see anything that would show that the cops were trying to kill him.

    Oh I don't think for a moment that the officers were trying to kill him. But the fact is that they did kill him. They killed him by beating him to death in a confrontation that was not physical until the officers made it so.

    The officers may have beat the rap with the jury, but that doesn't mean that they aren't morally responsible for this man's death.

  45. Kilroy says:

    At 15:30 – couldn't see what he was doing with his left arm other than he appears to do something to the cops leg before the cop tries to grab him under the shoulder.

    19:00-20:00 – he's fighting, kicking, and trying to break loose. But again, no volume, so not sure if i'm missing something that would change my mind.

  46. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Kilroy

    There is absolutely no evidence that Thomas did "something" to the officer's leg. Nothing on the tape indicates it, and it's just a post-hoc rationalization for violence.

    And you're moving the goalposts now. First you argue that the officers didn't strike Thomas when he was on the ground, and now you're implicitly admitting that they did in fact strike him, but that it was justified because he was struggling. But the fact is that the video clearly indicates the officers had each of his limbs pinned down, and continued to strike him. If you think that those strikes are justified, then you and I have very different ideas about acceptable police practice, but please don't insult both our intelligence and pretend that they didn't do it after he presented no danger to them.

    And you didn't answer my question: what did Thomas do that justified the first swings of the officers' clubs that began the beating?

  47. Kilroy says:

    How do you know there isn't any evidence? What did the officer testify to at trial? I'd assume he testified concerning what was happening during every minute of that videotape.

    I didn't move the goalposts, I had said pinned, not when he was on the ground. When he's kicking and trying to break free, he wasn't pinned, even though he was on the ground. They should have probably tazed him instead, but hard when you have a bunch of cops around him already.

    And yes, when someone is actively trying to break free and kick at officers, strikes are justified. When was it that he presented no danger to them? When he stopped fighting, I didn't see any more strikes.

    I don't know what Thomas was doing. Looked like he started trying move away and flee when the first strike happened.

  48. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    I don't know what Thomas was doing. Looked like he started trying move away and flee when the first strike happened.

    I'd like to focus our discussion on just this point, because the above statement is so remarkably intellectually dishonest that I just don't know how you can type it with a straight face.

    You keep trying to portray this as the officers striking Thomas because he's trying to flee. That isn't what the video shows. The video very clearly shows the officers raising their clubs to hit Thomas, and him *then* trying to avoid the blows.

    The video indicates with absolutely no room for interpretation that Thomas did not try to move away from the officers until they raised their clubs to strike him. He didn't lunge at them before they raised their clubs, he didn't strike at them, nor did he brandish any sort of weapon. You can feign ignorance all you like about who did what, but the above facts are simply not debatable.

    You apparently think that trying to avoid being hit by a club justifies further beating.

  49. Clark says:

    And yes, when someone is actively trying to break free and kick at officers, strikes are justified.

    Even if the reason for the scuffle in the first place is police agression, and when the reason Kelly is actively trying to break free is that he is in pain and can't breath?

    When was it that he presented no danger to them? When he stopped fighting, I didn't see any more strikes.

    Just to be clear, he "stopped fighting" when the police had choked and crushed him to unconciousness.

    While it's nice that the cops stopped attacking an unconscious man (this time, at least – they don't always), it really doesn't justify anything they did.

    I don't know what Thomas was doing. Looked like he started trying move away and flee when the first strike happened.

    Oh no! A citizen trying to be left alone. No wonder they attacked him.

  50. c andrew says:

    @Clark and Dr Noble Dynamite,

    There are always police apologists who will twist themselves into rhetorical knots to avoid the obvious. And then there are those who don't go to that effort but merely accept that the police are benevolent and those that get roughed up deserved the attention.

    My own father tended to be of the second type because his father had been a deputy sheriff and wasn't a brutal type of guy. So when his children (us) started pointing out that the cops today were not the cops of his father's generation, he pooh poohed the idea, essentially saying that these folks were just troublemakers and getting what they deserved…

    Until he had to sit in a courtroom and watch one of his sons railroaded by an obviously lying cop and an obviously indifferent judge. He was incandescently angry about this one case and while he has not been quite as ready to take the police side since then, it required a seriously personal countervailing data point to achieve that.

    I think this goes back to Ken's post about "privileged" people not seeing the "justice" machine for the bone-grinding atrocity that it is and merely thinking that they've been exceptionally targeted by rogue cops and prosecutors.

    So even when the second type of apologist has his nose rubbed in the s**t that is our criminal system, they are likely to find means to explain it away. As far as the first type of apologist – well, there is a certain gun rights enthusiast who is on record saying that what happened to Eckert in Deming at the hands of cops was justifiable. One wonders what threshold has to be breached before their actions are not justifiable? Shooting a witness in the head in open court? I doubt that that would suffice. He'd just be a bad apple, dontcha know.

  51. Parallax says:

    The true victim is the man whose whole life has been stopped.

  52. c andrew says:

    Irony?

    Of course my heart bleeds for killer of citizen Thomas, cicinelli. What would be justice is if his heart bled. Or a myocardial infarction. There is certainly plenty of karmic energy for that outcome.

  53. AlphaCentauri says:

    I didn't see a lot of blows swinging in the video, either, but that wasn't the point. He wasn't "beaten to death;" he was suffocated. Many of the blows to his face could have been self-inflicted in his panic as he struggled to lift his thorax up to draw breath by pressing his face into the pavement.

    It's really possible the cops didn't understand how badly he was hurt once he stopped yelling. There's obviously not enough training about how to restrain someone without harming him, not enough training about de-escalating conflicts, and not enough incentives in the system to do so.

    Our city just had a huge decrease in murders last year. Did the cops get any bonuses? Nope. And they'll lose money in terms of the overtime they might have earned testifying in court. Totally fucked up incentives, and you have to point the finger up the chain higher than the cops to the prosecutors, to the DA, and finally, to the voters who keep voting for "law and order" and for the justice system to "stop coddling criminals" and to "close loopholes" like providing legal representation to accused persons.

  54. c andrew says:

    AlphaCentauri,

    Thing is, officer Ramos is on tape, putting on gloves, and telling his victim "They are getting ready to fuck you up." Clear declaration of intent without immediate threat – Kelly Thomas sitting quietly before him all this time. And then proceeds to "fuck [him] up." Which results in his death.

    Can you imagine a case where similar information is found about a regular citizen that, even acting in concert, doesn't bring a guilty verdict. And the question of who was responsible – that is, who struck the killing blow(s) – is actually moot; with a clear declaration of intent followed by action that resulted in death, they are all guilty of conspiracy to commit deadly assault under color of law. And they should have been prosecuted accordingly.

    Ramos initiated the assault. Whatever the outcome, he is responsible for it. I can only see two reasons why the jury could legitimately not convict.

    1) an insufficiently active prosecutor who wanted this outcome and so did not do his utmost as he would, say, had a "civilian" killed an officer.

    2) Jury instructions that were confusing or biased toward acquitting the officers.

    Legitimate reasons not within the power of the jury to change unless they were to assert their traditional rights as jurymen. But what I think happened, based on my interactions with the public at large is that there was a conflict between the myth of the heroic cop, thin blue line version, and the fact of annoying homeless mentally ill people. And the thin blue line won. Again.

    There will be a certain level of Karmic Justice if one of these jury members has a relative that becomes a future victim of this thin blue line policing. A Niemoller moment indeed, though I doubt they'd recognize it as such.

  55. AlphaCentauri says:

    I agree, a jury should have returned a guilty verdict on conspiracy. But was that one of the charges? Had they been "civilians" sitting on a cop, they would have been charged under every statute in existence including abuse of a corpse.

    I agree they were culpable, I'm just playing devil's advocate of how a jury could have failed to reach a guilty verdict for each individual who was charged.

  56. OrderoftheQuaff says:

    Time to open the Popehat federal indictments prediction market! Vote + if you think the U.S. Attorney will get an indictment against at least one of the cops within a year from today, – if you have lost hope and think this is over.

    Against the great weight of cynicism and disillusionment and resignation, I have a funny feeling about this so I'm posting a +.

    If the popes want to make this even more interesting, they could let us send in $5 or $10 to back our predictions and keep the money in an attorney-client trust account pending resolution of the wager.