A Sad Day For The Criminal Justice System

A little over 2 years ago I wrote this post concerning the brutal murder of a homeless kid, perpetrated by 6 thugs that should know better. The wheels of justice turn slowly, witnesses have to be contacted and the initial investigation has to be prepared so that it is trial ready. Additionally the defense always tries to prolong the actual trial, out of sight out of mind so that the incident ( as well as the outrage) has a chance to dissipate. But through out the wait, I felt strongly that the evidence would speak for itself, that justice would be done, and that these thugs would end up behind bars…………oops.

The father of Kelly Thomas told reporters Tuesday that he viewed a jury’s decision to acquit two Fullerton police officers in the beating death of his son as one setback in a “prize fight” in which there are still “several rounds to go.”
Two former Fullerton police officers were found not guilty Monday in the beating death that was captured on film, and charges against a third officer will be dropped.
Ron Thomas, Kelly’s father and a former sheriff’s deputy, said at a news conference that the verdict was in no way the last word.
“I look at this like a prize fight,” he said. “It’s not over, we still have several rounds to go.”

When I heard about the verdict this evening, it was like a kick to the stomach, what on earth were those jurors thinking? As a strong advocate of the criminal justice system (and my ramblings about the Zimmermann verdict come readily to mind) I just can not wrap my brain around this unexpected verdict. Without going into the shear weight of the evidence, the dozens of witness statements, the several actual video tapes, the recorded statements of the cops showing true intent to do harm to Kelly, and the photos of him lying in the hospital, I don’t get it.

Much as been made about the lack of training cops have wrt to subduing mentally ill suspects, horseshit. They have at their disposal a variety of weapons to chose from, and a clear understanding the law that mandates “reasonable force” only. Factor in that the reason they call for back up is that “reasonable force” is available, not batonning him, not Tazing him, and not shooting him but actually using shear body weight of the officers to subdue him, this is how they are trained. They threw all that training out the window, went outside of policy, and literately beat the snot out of Kelly,a 140lb mentally ill homeless guy, who in his last dying throws was calling out desperately for his dad to save him, it makes me cry just thinking about that.

God bless Ron Thomas, he is a fighter who is not giving up. The feds now get to look at these guys, maybe civil rights charges are in the wind and the bad guys could go to jail over those. A civil suit is also in the works. I hope the city of Fullerton gets hit big, they are the ones that hired these clowns, they did a rotten job of it and need to pay. But mostly I hope these two ex-officers (it should have been 6) need to be hounded for the rest of their miserable lives, they need to pay monetarily for their actions. Hopefully any honest buck they ever make in the future will have a judgement attached to it. But mostly society needs to shun them, they are bad evil men who do not deserve to live among civilized folks. We cannot take their lives like they took Kelly’s, the next best thing is to make them a pariah.

Comments are closed.

  1. AlexInCT

    When you interact with the police show them respect or else. That’s my philosophy. Not because I think they deserve it, but because the consequences of some power tripping scumbag deciding you need to be thought a lesson and their ability to get away with it are frightening. I am sure there are some decent cops out there, but my experience has been that over time these people are all corrupted by the power that comes with being a police officer. And one of the things that worries me greatly is how we keep excusing the militarization of our police forces. Nothing good will come from this.

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  2. richtaylor365 *

    When you interact with the police show them respect or else

    So if the cop gets dissed, that gives him license to beat the crap out of you? Respect was not an issue in this instance. Kelly was mentally ill (which Ramos knew, btw, having had prior contact with him). Some folks have mental problems, some don’t speak the language or know the customs, and others are just rude obnoxious dickheads, none of that matters, the cops are professionals and thus should treat everyone professionally.

    . I am sure there are some decent cops out there

    High praise indeed. That sounds about as silly as saying there are some decent engineers or scientists out there, seesshhh.

    but my experience has been that over time these people are all corrupted by the power that comes with being a police officer

    Alex, I never pegged you as one of those “all cops are bad” crackpots that we have way too many of here on this blog. Let me just say that it has been my experience, knowing a couple thousand of them over the years, that power is not the motivating factor, it is the desire to help people, oh, and the benefits are nice too, which is why those that I knew took their position and responsibilities seriously, no fit of anger was worth losing your job over.

    And one of the things that worries me greatly is how we keep excusing the militarization of our police forces.

    That worries me as well, but has nothing to do with this case. A bar owner called the cops to report a suspicious guy (Kelly) in the area, possibly (unfounded) breaking into parked cars. The beat cop responded, not the SWAT team, or any para military group. Cops through out the country get thousands of these types of calls every day, and they handle them properly without killing people, that is how this one should have went done.

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  3. AlexInCT

    So if the cop gets dissed, that gives him license to beat the crap out of you?

    No it does not Rich. Did you miss this part of my comment?

    That’s my philosophy. Not because I think they deserve it, but because the consequences of some power tripping scumbag deciding you need to be thought a lesson and their ability to get away with it are frightening.

    It’s called prudence.

    Alex, I never pegged you as one of those “all cops are bad” crackpots that we have way too many of here on this blog.

    Except that’s not the case. I don’t think they are all bad at all. But I have interacted with enough of them, including some that are acquintances, to know they are human and driven by the same emotions as most people. I have also dealt with some that are absolute fucking assholes and have no qualms abusing their position of trust. I had one of thes bastards stalk me for a couple of months, because I contested a ticket he gave me in court and won (he was caught lying his ass off by the judge), so he could get even. I had to resort to contacting people I had worked with that were scarier than the cops, to have a talk with him, to finaly have him understand he better back off. And this was over 2 decades ago.

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  4. Xetrov

    That’s just…wow. The attorney for Ramos said “They did what they were trained to do,” Ramos was trained to put on latex gloves, put his fists in Thomas’s face, and say, “See these fists? They’re getting ready to fuck you up”??? I can’t believe a jury would acquit that scumbag.

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  5. AlexInCT

    I can’t believe a jury would acquit that scumbag.

    I happened to read somewhere that there was a heavy police presence at the trail and that the cops there made it a point to let the jury members know they were being watched….

    Can’t verify if it is true or not, but I wouldn’t dismiss it outright considering I find our judical system to be a kangeroo courty anyway.

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  6. Hal_10000

    I don’t think all cops are bad. I don’t think even a significant minority are. Almost all the cops I deal with are friendly, polite and helpful. I’ve seen, first-hand, cops dealing with crazy or drugged-out people in ER’s and showing admirable restraint and skill in dealing with them without getting anyone hurt.

    The problem is that 1) I think the system protects bad apples; 2) I think the system is encouraging more bad apples to join up. Radley Balko once showed two ads for two different police agencies. One showed cops walking beats, talking to people, helping kids, being part of the community; the other showed them busting down doors and waving guns around. Guess which type of person is drawn to those two different agencies.

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  7. richtaylor365 *

    The problem is that 1) I think the system protects bad apples;

    I was just going to let this one pass, figuring it wasn’t worth it, but then Alex jumped in with his ,”THIS! THIS! THIS!”, so I’ll ask both of you, how does the system protect bad apples?

    Having worked on the other side of this for a few years, I know what it takes for them to get fired for misconduct, even go to jail for it, so how are the bad apples protected?

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  8. richtaylor365 *

    While I’m at it, I’ll address this part;

    2) I think the system is encouraging more bad apples to join up. Radley Balko once showed two ads for two different police agencies. One showed cops walking beats, talking to people, helping kids, being part of the community; the other showed them busting down doors and waving guns around. Guess which type of person is drawn to those two different agencies.

    Stuff like this is why I don’t think Balko knows as much as he thinks he does, see, both are the same agency, not different. What, you think police dept.’s puts ads in the paper for big tough guys to sign up and join SWAT? The very backbone of all police work is the beat cop, the guy that day in and day out works with the folks on his beat, he knows many of them and they know him. After about 10 years of doing this, then and only then is the beat cop offered the chance to join SWAT, and only the guys that have shown good judgment, empathy, and common sense are given the chance.

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  9. Mook

    so I’ll ask both of you, how does the system protect bad apples?

    I’ll answer that – police unions and other privileges and protections afforded to govt. employees make it very difficult to fire bad cops.

    After about 10 years of doing this, then and only then is the beat cop offered the chance to join SWAT

    From what I’ve read, that’s not true for most big city police depts. I think it’s more like 2 – 3 yrs. of being a cop before being eligible for SWAT. If special military training (SEALS, Delta Force, etc.) I believe they may be able to enter directly into SWAT with little or no beat cop experience.

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  10. Xetrov

    how are the bad apples protected?

    Two former Fullerton police officers were found not guilty Monday in the beating death that was captured on film, and charges against a third officer will be dropped.

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  11. richtaylor365 *

    Xetrov, your comment does not answer the question. Hal said (with Alex in support) that the system protects bad apples within LE. Just because these Fullerton cops were found not guilty, this in no way says they were protected, anymore than saying the system protects bad apples within pro football because OJ was found not guilty, or that it protects community watch officers with Zimmermann. Now if they were never brought to trial, than I could see Hal’s point, but they were. No, Hal said the system protects bad apples in LE and I’m asking how.

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  12. richtaylor365 *

    I’ll answer that – police unions and other privileges and protections afforded to govt. employees make it very difficult to fire bad cops.

    You had it right when you said ,”govt. employees”. ALL civil servants, those within the protections of government unions, have a higher threshold, I will admit, but cops do not have it any better than teachers, how hard is it to fire a teacher?

    From what I’ve read, that’s not true for most big city police depts. I think it’s more like 2 – 3 yrs. of being a cop before being eligible for SWAT. If special military training (SEALS, Delta Force, etc.) I believe they may be able to enter directly into SWAT with little or no beat cop experience.

    I can only speak anecdotally, what I have seen with my own eyes or heard from guys that I knew on the job, both in Los Angeles and in the Bay Area, but it was never as short as 2 or 3 years, and only open to guys with stellar backgrounds (no complaints about personal conduct on the job, a prerequisite that clowns like Ramos could never pass). And the guys with prior military experience, yes that would get them bonus points for getting hired, but never ever a free pass to walk right onto SWAT, how could it? a totally different environment. Military guys are never bound by probable cause, Miranda, a defined escalation of force pyramid, innocent until proven guilty, and all the civil rights protections that citizens get, none of these are used as constraints on the battlefield.

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  13. Xetrov

    Xetrov, your comment does not answer the question.

    Sure it does. *Something* kept these two scumbags from prison. I can not comprehend the existence of twelve people who could acquit two men (police or not) after seeing the video of them beating a guy to death without some sort of outside influence on them, *Something* in the system, whether legal or not, protected them from prison.

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  14. richtaylor365 *

    So what you are essentially saying is that when anyone is found not guilty in a criminal trial, be it OJ, Zimmermann, Michael Jackson, Casey Anthony, or William Kennedy Smith, is it because *Something* (whatever the hell that means) within the system protected them. Come on, you really don’t believe that, do you?

    The evidence against all those people I mentioned were equally damning, why did they get off with a “not guilty”?

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  15. Xetrov

    So what you are essentially saying is that when anyone is found not guilty in a criminal trial, be it OJ, Zimmermann, Michael Jackson, Casey Anthony, or William Kennedy Smith, is it because *Something* (whatever the hell that means) within the system protected them.

    No, what I’m saying is that I believe something outside of the formal legal system (jury intimidation, bribery, etc.) but most likely in the current “law enforcement system” (someone threatened the jury with using police powers against them after the trial, etc.) protected these two scumbags from going to prison. It’s the only logical reasoning I can come up with.

    The evidence against all those people I mentioned were equally damning, why did they get off with a “not guilty”?

    Really? There was a 35 minute video of OJ stabbing Nicole? There was a 35 minute video of Zimmerman shooting Treyvon in cold blood? There was a 35 minute video of Michael Jackson molesting children? Have you watched the video? If so, hypothetically put yourself on the jury – what could possibly make you think those two scumbags were not responsible for the guy’s death? I can’t come up with a reasonable doubt of why those two assholes were justified in beating a man to death. That is what I mean when I say the “System” protected them.

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  16. richtaylor365 *

    “Jury intimidation, bribery”, you’re kidding, right? Are you really gonna go there? What evidence or proof do you have, other then ,”Those jurors did not come up with the verdict I wanted”? Come on, Xetrov, you are better then this.

    Let’s take these one at a time;
    Jury intimidation- who do you think is doing this? Is it the two charged officers (you don’t think they have enough on their plate, they are going to spend their time trying to intimate the jurors, really?) Is it the police union, fellow officers, you really think they would risk prison themselves over these two dirt bags, lunacy.

    Bribery- Sure these two ex cops are millionaires, they could offord to bribe the jury, or do you think the police union has buckets and buckets of cash laying around, specifically to bribe juries when their members are arrested.

    Gee, too bad the current “Law Enforcement system” didn’t work for Drew Peterson, Johannes Mehserle, Stephanie Mohr, or all the other cops who got charged with crimes, were found guilty, and went to prison, they should all get their dues refunded to them because the current “Law Enforcement System” didn’t to Jack for them. Anecdotally I can remember 3 guys that I either worked or knew about, cops that broke the law and went to jail/prison, that system you speak of failed them big time.

    Oh, and did you read about this;

    http://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/financial-fraud-law/b/blog/archive/2014/01/07/80-new-york-police-and-fire-department-retirees-among-106-charged-in-alleged-social-security-disability-fraud.aspx

    So, according to you, all these guys are going to walk because some nebulous top secret “system” is going to protect them.

    It’s the only logical reasoning I can come up with.

    Did you sit in on the trial? Did you hear all the evidence presented? See, this is where I think TV shows don’t help, the average folk has no idea what goes on in a murder trial. There was much more to the case then just that video you speak of.

    Really? There was a 35 minute video of OJ stabbing Nicole?

    There was much worse evidence against OJ, much worse, DNA. It is easy to look at a video and interpret it different ways. No doubt the defense lawyer was saying that Kelly was resisting, I don’t buy it, but I’m sure it was said. I remember a police brutality case in Inglewood several years ago where a Sheriff slammed a handcuffed suspect down hard on the hood of his squad car breaking the guys nose, all was captured on video. I thought the Sheriff was toast, but in trial his lawyer said that the suspect, while his hand were handcuffed behind him, grabbed and squeezed the Sheriff’s nuts, that’s why he was slammed, a reflexive action, the ploy worked, no jurors were bribed or intimated, they had a reasonable doubt.

    But back to OJ, DNA is not up to interpretation, it either exists or it doesn’t. There was no logical explanation in explaining how Goldman’s blood got on the interior of OJ’s truck, none in the whole universe of possibilities other than OJ left it there after the murder, yet, he walked.

    I can’t come up with a reasonable doubt of why those two assholes were justified in beating a man to death.

    Look, I’m just as upset about this verdict as you are. I saw the video (and others) I thought they were guilty as sin. How do you think Jim Thomas feels? He is a retired cop, he had his son murdered by fellow cops,yet, he isn’t poisoning the well with wild crazy accusations of some secret system that protects cops. The fight is not over, these bad cops can get hurt in other ways, justice will be done, I believe that.

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  17. Xetrov

    you’re kidding, right?

    Nope.

    Are you really gonna go there?

    Just did.

    What evidence or proof do you have

    Hmmm.

    No, what I’m saying is that I believe something outside of the formal legal system (jury intimidation, bribery, etc.) but most likely in the current “law enforcement system” (someone threatened the jury with using police powers against them after the trial, etc.) protected these two scumbags from going to prison. It’s the only logical reasoning I can come up with.

    It’s my opinion, and the only logical thing I can think of to explain the acquittal of those two murderers. I’m not asking you to believe it, and certainly am not presenting it as a provable fact. If you have a better explanation, I’m willing to give it a listen.

    As far as DNA in the OJ case, read this interview with a UCLA law professor – http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/oj/interviews/arenella.html. Particularly –

    Only a real expert in DNA evidence could discriminate between legitimate challenges to DNA evidence in that case and challenges that were based on speculation or exaggerated hypotheses. I don’t think the jury could follow that, but neither could the media, so the jury focused more on the evidence they could understand: the timeline and motive evidence.

    It explains why or how the Jury could have disregarded the DNA evidence. A video of a beating is a little harder to obfuscate. Your story of the sheriff doesn’t apply to my reasoning unless you think Kelly Thomas somehow grabbed and squeezed Ramos’s nuts…which I’m pretty sure the defense didn’t claim.

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  18. richtaylor365 *

    No, what I’m saying is that I believe

    Based on what? If you are going to make wild crazy assed acquisitions, you should have something, anything more tangible then ,”I feel it in my gut”, that is hardly persuasive. Even a belief is based on something concrete, you have nothing at all.

    See, your thinking as been faulty from start to finish. Faced with a verdict you didn’t like, instead of considering that something must have been presented to the jury to instill reasonable doubt, you go off the reservation with the fanciful, reconciling it with the absurd, namely that some undue pressure was put on the jurors to sway them a certain way, no, the possibility that they came up with this verdict all on their own is just too remote for your way of thinking. Then when backed into a corner, you double down, insinuating that jury intimidation or bribery was the prime mover. Of course you have no proof of this, zero, nadda, but hey, never let facts get in the way of something juicy.

    If you have a better explanation, I’m willing to give it a listen.

    How about the obvious, that something, whether it was another piece of evidence we are not privy to or even trickery on the part of the defense attorney, something within the trial process convinced one juror that there existed reasonable doubt, that’s all it takes. I could even go with ,”The jurors were all dumber then a box of rocks”, but this police intimidation/bribery stuff is just nonsense.

    Your story of the sheriff doesn’t apply to my reasoning unless you think Kelly Thomas somehow grabbed and squeezed Ramos’s nuts…which I’m pretty sure the defense didn’t claim.

    Why are you being obtuse? The story was presented as an example of how defense attorneys can make stuff up, to present a different version or even an explanation for why what we think we see on a video is not really what we see at all, to present reasonable doubt. No, I’m not claiming that Kelly grabbed Ramos’ nuts.

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  19. Xetrov

    Based on what?

    The absence of logic in the official story.

    If you are going to make wild crazy assed acquisitions

    I promise not to take possession of anything. ;-) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acquisition

    you should have something, anything more tangible then ,”I feel it in my gut”, that is hardly persuasive.

    Did you miss the part where I said I wasn’t trying to persuade you? I don’t give two shits what you think, let alone what you think about my opinion. Get it? If you have a reasonable hypothesis of how 12 people could watch the video of two guys beating another guy to death and then not think those two are guilty of the act, I’m all ears.

    How about the obvious, that something, whether it was another piece of evidence we are not privy to or even trickery on the part of the defense attorney, something within the trial process convinced one juror that there existed reasonable doubt, that’s all it takes.

    None of those bring reasonable doubt into it when the video clearly shows the beating, and the guy begging for his life.

    but this police intimidation/bribery stuff is just nonsense.

    In your opinion, and you are welcome to it.

    Why are you being obtuse?

    Why are you taking my opinion of the situation as some personal affront that you must argue against? As I said, if you have a better idea that helps bring logic into an illogical conclusion, let me know.

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  20. richtaylor365 *

    I’m all ears.

    Clearly you’re not. Something was presented to the jury that caused reasonable doubt in one juror, this is the ONLY logical explanation, yet you dismiss it out of hand, why?

    None of those bring reasonable doubt into it when the video clearly shows the beating

    How do you know? Were you there? Did you listen to all the evidence and testimony? Did you listen to arguments made by the defense attorney? You have no reasonable doubt (based on what little you know of what actually was presented in the trail), bully for you, but you were not on the jury, you did not get to listen to what went on in the trial, they did. They had the burden of reasonable doubt, not you.

    Why are you taking my opinion of the situation as some personal affront that you must argue against?

    This is a blog, that is what we do here, discuss issues. But the bigger question is ,”Why are you so doggedly{obstinately} sticking with a position which is totally untenable and have no basis for or evidence to suggest?” But you are right, it is silly to argue with someone who’s entire position rests solely on ,”I got this gut feeling, can’t explain it and have no basis for it, but there you go”.

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  21. Xetrov

    Clearly you’re not. Something was presented to the jury that caused reasonable doubt in one juror, this is the ONLY logical explanation, yet you dismiss it out of hand, why?

    They were acquitted, which means the jury, all 12 of them, found them not guilty. It wasn’t a hung jury where one juror refuses to change their mind.

    How do you know?

    Do any of those things change what the video showed? Nope.

    This is a blog, that is what we do here

    We demand proof for someone’s opinion? Damn, remind me never to discuss religion with you.

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  22. richtaylor365 *

    We demand proof for someone’s opinion?

    So I say ,”This is a blog, that is what we do here, discuss issues”, and you somehow twist that into me demanding proof? To answer your question, no, no proof needed. But usually when one entertains an opinion or holds a belief, that position is based on something tangible and persuadable. You have had half a dozen chances in comments to “show me what you got”, and it all comes down to ,”I got nothing except this gut feeling”. Fair enough, you stick with that. You said earlier that you were not trying to persuade me, mission accomplished.

    I will second this;

    In your opinion, and you are welcome to it.

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  23. Xetrov

    you somehow twist that into me demanding proof?

    Huh, must have been someone else named Rich who said

    What evidence or proof do you have…

    Based on what? If you are going to make wild crazy assed acquisitions, you should have something, anything more tangible…

    Despite me saying explicitly that I was stating my own belief.

    Peace.

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  24. richtaylor365 *

    you somehow twist that into me demanding proof?

    Huh, must have been someone else named Rich who said

    What evidence or proof do you have…

    Based on what? If you are going to make wild crazy assed acquisitions, you should have something, anything more tangible…

    Proof is not needed to have an opinion, but it certainly is when wild crazy accusations are being made, like the jurors were threatened or bribed, I thought the distinction was obvious, I guess not.

    Peace.

    Ditto :)

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