Where Things Stand A Day After The D.A. Charged Two Fullerton Policemen In The Beating Death of Kelly Thomas

Thumbnail image for Tony-Rackauckas-Kelly-Thomas7.jpg
R. Scott Moxley
District Attorney Tony Rackauckas
It's been about 28 hours since the D.A. charged two Fullerton cops in the brutal beating death of Kelly Thomas.

In some ways what happened yesterday changed things, and in others it didn't. 

Marcellus McRae, a former federal prosecutor who now works as a trial lawyer in Los Angeles, says what happened yesterday was a big deal. "Here you have a district attorney that's made a decision that criminal charges are warranted. "It's not just unusual, that's pretty significant." McRae says the D.A.'s decision wasn't only a victory for Thomas' family, but for the judicial system, in general. "Even the filing, it's a reaffirmation of society's respect for individual rights and the empowerment of the citizens in the community."

Something else changed after the D.A.'s decision yesterday, too. Three members of the Fullerton city council have opened up a bit. The three men -- Mayor Richard Jones, Mayor Pro Tem Don Bankhead and Councilman Pat McKinley -- who are being recalled largely because of how they handled the aftermath of Kelly Thomas' beating, released statements, which are posted on the anti-recall blog.

"Remaining silent to let the investigative process run unfettered was difficult but essential," Jones said. In his statement he also apologized to the Thomas family and said the behavior of the officers "saddened" him and gave the police department and the city "a black eye." Similarly, Bankhead, who was on the Fullerton police squad for 31 years, called yesterday "one of the darkest days in Fullerton's history." And, McKinley, who served as Fullerton's police chief for sixteen years, said that he hired both of the officers who were charged, adding that he couldn't "comprehend how they drifted so far from their training." 

Ron Thomas, Kelly's Army.jpg
Marisa Gerber/ OCWeekly
Ron Thomas, left, tells members of "Kelly's Army" that the D.A. planned to charge one officer with second-degree murder and another with manslaughter
As for Ron Thomas and "Kelly's Army," the fight is still on. They're still celebrating yesterday's decision, of course, but now they have a new target -- the four officers who weren't charged. "I want to go after the other four on administrative leave. We need to keep the pressure on, big time. They're guilty by association," Thomas said. Although one of their main demands was action from the D.A., Kelly's Army will still protest this Saturday in front of the police department, Thomas said, and focus on the other four officers.

There are two other investigations still pending in the case, too. Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the F.B.I, said their investigation, which is independent of the state's case, is ongoing. Michael Gennaco was hired by the city of Fullerton to conduct an independent review into Thomas' beating and the police department. Today, Gennaco told the Weekly that he's hoping to meet with the D.A. in the next couple of days. "We've got to figure out who does what and what information we can get from them, rather than reinvent the whole wheel." Because he's also looking into administrative issues, Gennaco says he'll be conducting other interviews, too. 
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14 comments
Cristóbal García
Cristóbal García

If you are present as an accomplice when a crime is committed, or even worse, when you assist in a crime as an accomplice you should be punished. This concept is written into law and is a minimum justice to expect. If you witness a crime and do not report it, or even worse, when you assist in a crime that you did not report, you should be punished. Those four police officers knew that a crime had been committed. Those four officers assisted in the crime. Those four officers did not report that a crime had been committed. 

The leadership of these police officers assisted them in covering up the details of the crime until the public outcry became a public scream. The concept of being an accomplice includes ALL who knew that a crime had been committed and assisted in its cover up.

What all these participants in Thomas' death know is that the public grows weary quickly, that its attention will shift to other things. It is a waiting game that favors these evil doers. I'd bet that within the month that charges will quietly be negotiated to the benefit of the officers involved if not dropped altogether.

This is what the country has come to. Acceptance of the loss of protection of the constitution, acceptance of grinding taxation, acceptance of loss of privacy, acceptance of the loss of pride we all once had in the United States.

Are there not patriots out there who have the love of country and the stamina to see this thing all the way through? If not...then maybe we deserve what has happened to us. Would you stand with me to protect my child? Would you stand with me to protect my neighbor? Will you stand with me to protect my country? I know that we all can't go out and hold picket signs, we all can't attend meetings, but if you think about it...there is something that you can do to help get this country back on track. Are you willing to do your part?

All of the men and women who gave up their lives to get these wonderful freedoms that we once had call out to you now. 

Do this for your family, for your neighbor, for your country and for yourself.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

Is it really amazing that TRac would file any charges against any officers? his department has a history of whitewashing police/sheriff corruption and violence. In this case the people have shown they are enraged and will not take it any more. This case has received international publicity. I am somewhat surprised that Thomas was not portrayed in the media as a terrorist or even a gang member.

Guest
Guest

What I don't understand is how this whack job dead-eyed coward wuss Cicinelli was only charged with involuntary manslaughter.  From the moment Cyclops arrived on the scene (probably 'roided out) everything he did was intentional, malicious and voluntary.

Guest
Guest

Dick Jones is a liar.  Didn't he and the city of Fullerton attempt to make a 900K sesettlement with Ron Thomas?  He knew from the beginning that he would shove this thing under the rug and hope to the community would lose momentum and to cover up.  Not a chance, Dick!  Now he is saying the opposite.

jonityson
jonityson

Cicinelli used excessive force when he assaulted and beat Kelly Thomas, acting recklessly, under the color of authority without lawful necessity. ”                 http://bit.ly/nxTRI6

just one homeless man
just one homeless man

To Ron Thomas:Good work brother.Now lets get those other four(4) poor excuses of men off our  streets,and out of uniform.

John Smith
John Smith

This will help all of us.

For a while, the police will think twice before they use stun guns on women and children. It will make an officer who is crazy with rage stop and take a deep breath, before he begins pounding away on someone with his metal club. And, it might even save a victim's life, when an out-of-control officer has him at gunpoint, with his finger just itching to pull the trigger!

No, of course this officer will NOT be found guilty. They never are, and this one is no different. But, these men will lose their badges and their guns, and they will be taken off the street, so they can't kill anyone else, ever again. At least not under the color of authority anyway.

Law enforcement is a difficult job, and I commend anyone who attempts to do it. But, there is no place for anyone who loses their temper and goes on a killing rampage. For far too long, many police have felt above the law. Beatings. Threats. And, even killings became acceptable, and even routine.

The image of this former policeman in handcuffs will send a message loud and clear to police all across the country. "These are people that matter, regardless of whether they are mentally ill, or poor, or just in the wrong place at the wrong time. These people matter to the community, and we don't want the officers that protect and serve us to kill them!"

Just as 9-11 presented terrorism in a way that we will all never forget, these arrests will present the unwarranted use of lethal force in a way that police offers will never forget.

And, that can potentially benefit everyone!

PatrickR
PatrickR

John while you made some valid point in your comments, others were not correct.

First, the vast majority of Police batons are not metal, they are either plastic or wood.  Granted they can still do serious damage to a persons body, if not deployed pursuant to the training the Officer receives on where to strike.  This is why, baton training is second only to that of firearms and is repeated over and over during the an Officer's career.  

Second, rarely, if ever do you have an Officer draw his firearm while in a rage and with his trigger finger itching.  That sounds like a line out of a TV show.  Most Police shootings are based on instinct and the Officer doesn't have time to think about it.  Deadly force is strictly limited and is the final step in the Use of Force Continuum.   Officers are trained, trained and retrained in the split second mental process of assessing a life or death situation and reacting to it by instinct.  Most of this is done with real life situational scenarios where an Officer steps into an simulated incident, encounters either bad guys or innocent citizens and must shoot or not shoot.  With the technology available today, this type of training is invaluable to mentally preparing an Officer to react under stress.  Additionally, Officers do not shoot the guns out of the hands of the bad guy or wound them in the leg. That is another TV myth.  They are trained to fire for center bodymass with the intent of eliminating the threat posed by the suspect.  From day one on the job, an Officer is taught that you don't draw your weapon unless you intend to terminate the life of the suspect.  Henceforth, the critical importance of the scenario training an Officer undergoes on a regular basis. 

You are 100% correct on the temperment issues of an Officer.  We screen them closely, do psychological exams and put them under stress in the Police Academy, trying to break them if possible.  The screening process works most of the time but a few latent personalities slip through.  When discovered after they are on the job, the Officer receives counseling, retraining, anger management and other sorts of therapy.  When that doesn't work, supervisors document the problems and eventually the Officer is terminated.  From the description of the Fullerton Oficers, their language and actions, their excessive force and emotional issues should have been identified by supervisors, documented and remedial actions taken.  I strongly suspect that in the internal Investigation currently underway of the department, that shortcoming will be identified.  Bottom line is, there is no room in the emotional life of a Police Officer for excessive anger issues, either on or off the job. 

Lastly, I ould remind you taht 99.9 % of the men and women at Fullerton Police Department are dedicated, hard working honest Officers.  They are embarrased and angry about the actions of a few of their peers, who have given them all a black eye of major proportion.  They will be thankful when all the investigations are finished, court cases completed and internal discipline administered.  At that time they can get back to doing the professional job they do and rebuilding the trust with the citizens of Fullerton.    

Cristóbal García
Cristóbal García

This flies in the face of the realities of this case. Not one of the other police officers reported this act as a potential crime. None of them stepped forward to assist in the investigation.

The entire police department staff history should be reviewed. 

I don't trust, nor do most of the citizens trust, the Fullerton Police Department. Now that is a fact. Any self respecting police officer would look for another police department to work for that has the sentiments that you expressed.

murmur55
murmur55

Recent events suggest otherwise.

Newportblue65
Newportblue65

Well , for one thing a cop with only "ONE" eye should have ever been hired....Period!!!!..I understand he had lost it in the line of duty!!!!!....Psychology 101 !!!!......

Joe Blow
Joe Blow

Ramos, Cicinelli, Rincon, Wren, Mejia, Hampton, etc. The list is a lot longer. Should I continue? There are less than 150 officers at FPD, so that 99.9% is way off. And what about the cowardly Chief Sellers? Ran off on his department at the time they needed him most. Was that because he was an integral component of the Kelly Thomas cover-up? Thankfully we have the FBI on the case to help the public get the truth. Sadly the DA won't be much help. 

malasangre
malasangre

and the guy who shot him was "heavily" bearded like Kelly Thomas.   101

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