Fullerton police chief doesn’t think verdict vindicated lethal cop

Fullerton police chief doesn’t think verdict vindicated lethal cop

In the aftermath of the Kelly Thomas verdict, it’s been depressing to read the comment sections of Cal Watchdog, blogs, news sites and newspapers.

A lot of oddly gleeful folks treat the verdict as evidence that police did the right thing the night Thomas suffered fatal injuries while being remorselessly tortured by men with badges.

That’s absurd. The frail, mentally ill homeless man wouldn’t be dead if a cop didn’t openly declare he was going to “f—” Thomas up and then follow through on his threat. If the officers had a shred of humanity, Thomas would be alive.

I’m glad to see the L.A. Times report that at least one person in Fullerton understands this:

“Fullerton’s chief of police said he would fight an appeal from one of the officers acquitted in the death of Kelly Thomas to get his job back.

“Jay Cicinelli was fired after being charged by Orange County prosecutors with involuntary manslaughter and excessive force in the 2011 death of the mentally ill homeless man.

“His co-defendant Manuel Ramos, also a former Fullerton police officer, was charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.

“On Monday a Santa Ana jury found both of them not guilty of all charges.

“Dan Hughes, Fullerton chief of police, said in a statement that his decision to fire Cicinelli is separate and unaffected by the acquittal.”

“’Former Police Officer Jay Cicinelli has alleged that he was wrongfully terminated and has demanded his job back,’ Hughes said. ‘I stand behind the employment decisions I have made.'”

2011 killing produced shameful reaction from many

Why do I express satisfaction that “at least one person in Fullerton” understands what happened to Thomas was horrible?

Because of Steve Greenhut’s U-T San Diego column, which points out that many in Fullerton didn’t get this at all.

“…in July 2011, the Fullerton political establishment rushed to the defense of officers who had beaten a 130-pound homeless schizophrenic named Kelly Thomas. The public saw the published photo of Thomas’ horribly swollen and bruised face, yet the mayor went on TV saying he had seen worse injuries in the Vietnam War and that it was unclear what killed Thomas, who died in a hospital days after the whomping.

“We also learned that police officers confiscated the video camera of a bystander and were allowed to watch the surveillance video of the incident and essentially get their stories straight before giving their statements.”

This is pathetic. As Steve points out, it is also not surprising.

“This one-time idealist wants to believe that in a free society the rulers are held to the same standards as the ruled, that the public wouldn’t stand for the kind of official brutality that takes place in unfree nations and that juries would punish killers even if they wear a uniform.

“Yet over years of writing about policing issues, it’s hard to remain hopeful. No matter how egregious the incident — police gunning down a troubled teen in an empty park, shooting a fleeing suspect in the back, or planting evidence in a car trunk — there’s rarely any punishment.”

Take it away, commenters. Explain to us once again how Kelly Thomas got what he had coming.


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