Enter the invention of the video camera. In the early '90s we all got to see the sad truth when the Rodney King tape went public. The police were exonerated of any criminal penalty and well... we all know what happened after that. Now we are living in an age where cops can pepper spray peaceful demonstrators without fear of retribution, and boldly attack the citizens they serve in the face of dozens of cellphone and security cameras.
Now before you go crying foul at this commentary and call me a hippie, I need to make clear that I understand that the vast majority of police are dutifully serving the public and have character that is beyond reproach. But that makes it even more important to hand out extremely harsh penalties to any officer found guilty of brutality. Why is it that committing violence against an officer of the law carries far greater penalties than committing equal crimes against private citizens? Should not the same logic be applied to police that are found to have violated their sworn oath to "protect and serve"? I think yes, and the penalties should be even more severe as dirty cops violate the public trust.
The reason I decided to go off on a decidedly unfunny rant today is that I viewed the Kelly Thomas video today. For those of you that are not aware, the video was released publicly during the trial of officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli, who are being charged in the death of a homeless schizophrenic man in Fullerton, CA last July 5th. In the video you can see a clearly disoriented Kelly Thomas being given orders to "put your hands on your knees". When he keeps moving his hands officer Ramos puts on latex gloves and says "See my fists? They are getting ready to fuck you up!"
Unfortunately Thomas chooses not to fear the officer who was trying to terrify him. "Well, start punching then" Thomas says, sealing his fate. The next ten minutes of video show an increasing number of cops appearing on scene and dog-piling on top of Thomas while he screams for mercy. He complains he cannot breath, and the cops repeatedly shout "stop resisting!", a convenient phrase that allows them to continue beating him and liberally applying the use of a taser. The last words Thomas ever spoke were "Dad, they're killing me...", referring to Kelly Thomas' father, a former police officer himself. The victim died several days later while in a coma from his injuries.
|Officer Ramos' injuries
|The crime scene
Ron Thomas, the victim's father, claims he was offered $900,000 by the city of Fullerton to "go away" and allow the officers involved to go unpunished. Thankfully he declined and two of the cops involved are facing murder charges.
Lets hope justice is served, and let the wrath of the law be swift against those wolves in sheep's clothing that so boldly victimize us. If not for the sake of the Thomas family, then for the sake of the state of California and honorable police officers everywhere. California could do without another public uprising and riot.