Kelly Thomas Death (Proceed With Caution)
Let me say right up front and un-apologetically that I'm a big supporter of law enforcement. I understand and admire the hard work they do to keep us safe. I personally know many police officers - my best friend since we were five years old was with the Los Angeles Police Department for 31 years before retiring. Through him I know many officers from many jurisdictions. I consider many current and former members of the Costa Mesa Police Department as friends. Former LAPD chief Daryl Gates was a friend. Heck, I went to high school with Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.
KELLY THOMAS' DEATH
That being said, the incident in Fullerton nearly a year ago that took the life of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man, has caused me much distress.
The trial of two Fullerton police officers began this week and the tapes of the event are now available for viewing. Let me tell you, watching them is VERY painful. I'm providing these tapes for you to watch if you choose to do so. I suggest that you NOT permit children to see these tapes - they are much, much too powerful.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER REPORT
There have been many things written and said about this incident. I've tried to stay abreast of the news as it occurred. I've read most of the local things - newspaper articles, blog posts, etc - and heard local radio commentators rant about this case. You can read a recent Orange County Register story HERE. It also includes a link to a short video of the event. It has a slide show of still images, too.
You can read Greg Diamond's piece in the Orange Juice Blog HERE. He includes a link to the longer, un-edited version of the tape. And, you can read a piece from the Voice of OC HERE.
This is a very troubling event and, as you watch the tape, you'll probably come away feeling the same way. It may cause some of you to unfairly indict ALL police officers and to make you distrust them. That's a shame.
MAJOR CHANGES IN FULLERTON
This event has long tentacles. It may cost three Fullerton City Council members their positions - a recall effort is in progress. One of those men was the former Police Chief for Fullerton before he ran for City Council.
THE COMPRESSED TAPE
Here is the short, almost 9 minute, tape. This one has better audio clarity, but compresses events and, in my opinion, distorts it a little. It will certainly evoke emotion from anyone viewing it.
THE LONGER, MORE PAINFUL TAPE
This tape is the longer, 33 minute unedited version. The audio is a little more difficult to hear in the beginning but watching this through to the end will tear your heart out. You watch Kelly Thomas, handcuffed and incapacitated, on the ground surrounded by at least a half-dozen officers as the blood pool from his wounds grows. You'll hear the firefighters/paramedics express concern about placing him on a gurney on his back for fear that he would aspirate his own blood. Again, this should not be viewed casually. You will not forget the images once you see them. The sound of Thomas crying out for his father while being subdued is going to ring in my head for a long, long time.
CHANGE WILL HAPPEN
I don't know what the outcome of the trial will be. I do know that this event has caused huge changes in Fullerton and will likely cause other municipalities and police organizations to more carefully assess their policies.