This story is not a new story. It actually happened last year and while I had seen some brief reports of it on the news, I didn’t know the whole story. My son shared an article with me earlier in the week. I didn’t rush to post on it because I wanted to do a bit of research and try to find the whole story. I know what the media has painted, but the article, complete with video, that my son shared went a bit further, which made me really want to know more. The video painted a chilling picture, but it left too much out, so I went looking. I found what I was looking for. I wanted to know what started the altercation that cost a mentally ill, homeless man his life. I wanted to know why the police jumped him the way they did. Their lawyers claim that he was refusing to cooperate, was combative, suspicious, appeared to be on drugs. I just had to see for myself. Let’s start with what my son shared with me. Please watch the video.
Here is the article:
Kelly Thomas died 5 days after that altercation and I could show you what he looked like in the hospital after they cleaned him up, but it would make you sick. They just about beat his face off. He was almost unrecognizable as a human being. I only saw his face. I don’t know how badly the rest of his body was injured. There are several problems with this incident. The first problem is that he had no shirt, no shoes and was unarmed, so this was already excessive force. While Kelly was not completely cooperative with the officers at the first, the first threat of violence was from Officer Manuel Ramos, the heavy-set officer that is initially talking to him. I did find the whole video. I did see how the events unfolded and I will share it with you, but first I would like to share with you what the Orange County District Attorney, Tony Rackauckas had to say in the press conference he gave explaining why he decided to charge the officers.
So here is the second problem with this…….Kelly lacked cognitive skills, enough to understand what was expected of him. He was said to be mentally ill. He was in fear for his life at a point and he was being threatened. He was trying to cooperate, though he was a bit mouthy, but the officers were not really being very clear about their intent. First they told him if you just give us your name we will leave and you can go to bed. He was homeless, claiming to sleep in or near trash cans. They then searched his backpack, which he gave them, finding some mail addressed to an attorney, so they assumed that he stole it. He may have, or it may have been in the trash, I don’t know. I do know this, they could have arrested him for resisting arrest without violence for being verbally uncooperative at the start, but they did not need to do what they did, because before all was said and done there were 6 officers on Kelly tazing him and beating him repeatedly, with billy clubs, their fists, even the tazer and one officer was repeatedly kneeing him with all of his might, and Kelly was screaming “I’m sorry dude”, repeatedly. “I can’t breathe”, repeatedly. There were 6 heavy officers on top of him, with a couple of them sitting on him, refusing to move, even after he went silent. At a point he was screaming for his dad and before he went silent he was screaming for God to help him. They didn’t even want to take the cuffs off of him for the ambulance to take him, when they were told he could no longer lie on his back because he would aspirate on his own blood. He was completely unresponsive and they had to check to make sure he was breathing and they still didn’t want to take the cuffs off of him. When they finally loaded him up, there was a large puddle of liquid on the pavement. It was his blood. There was apparently a security camera at the bus station where this happened, that caught the whole incident on film. I must warn you, the language is graphic and while you cannot really see Kelly while they are beating and tazing him, it is hard to watch. It is 33 minutes and 32 seconds long, but it shows the whole altercation, from the moment they approached him and begin to talk to him (at first), as the beating doesn’t start until about 16 minutes into their encounter.
Now to be fair it is being reported that the officers were called to investigate some vehicle thefts, or a vehicle theft (it is a bit unclear) in the area. They targeted Kelly, which they should have looked at everyone hanging around the area, but remember what District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said, Officer Ramos knew Kelly. He had spoken with him before……So was he just suspicious of him that night, or did he want to get him off the streets? The way he went about it was not the answer, especially when he was the one that threatened violence from the moment he shook his fist in Kelly’s face and threatened to hit him. Kelly never struck any of them. That, to me, says Ramos wanted to hurt him. To add insult to injury, there was a whole bunch of people hanging around on the opposite sidewalk, that were filming it with their cell phones, so the area was not desolate. There were a lot of people around, so Kelly was targeted. This happened on July 5, 2011. The date of the first article I gave you was May 9, 2012, reporting that a Judge decided two of the officers would stand trial, Officer Manuel Ramos and Officer Jay Cicinelli, almost one year later. The District Attorney announced the charges in August of last year.
I do realize this case has had some media coverage, but probably not as much as it should have and definitely not as much as some of the “high-profile” criminal cases of recent times. This case, to me shows the character of law enforcement officers that should never have been law enforcement officers. Only 2 of the 6 officers that did this were charged. While I have the utmost respect for the good officers of the law that serve the public (and there are many), this was probably one of the worst examples of abuse of power that I have ever seen. This just should not have happened.
CLARIFICATION: I NEED TO MAKE A CLARIFICATION IN THAT I ORIGINALLY SAID THAT 3 OFFICERS WERE CHARGED AND 3 WERE NOT. I HAD CONFUSED MYSELF ON THE ISSUE. IT WAS ACTUALLY ONLY OFFICER RAMOS AND OFFICER CICINELLI THAT HAVE BEEN CHARGED AND WILL STAND TRIAL, SO ACTUALLY 2 WERE CHARGED AND WILL STAND TRIAL AND 4 WERE NOT CHARGED.
ONE OTHER THING YOU MIGHT LIKE TO KNOW….KELLY HAD NO DRUGS OR ALCOHOL IN HIS SYSTEM AT ALL. I DID FIND THAT SINCE WRITING THIS ARTICLE.
THANKS TO CARLA FOR POINTING OUT MY MISTAKE.