It’s been more than two months since the fatal beating of Kelly Thomas at the hands of several Fullerton police officers. Thomas, a homeless drifter who suffered from schizophrenia was beaten unconscious on the evening of July 5th and died five days later without ever regaining consciousness. The incident in the small college town has citizens up in arms, holding protest rallies and packing city council meetings, calling for the prosecution of those involved and the firing of the police chief. The six officers involved were taken off the street and placed on paid administrative leave and a few weeks later the police chief went out on stress related medical leave.
Yesterday some of the mounting pressure was relieved when the Orange County District Attorney announced that two of the six officers involved in the beating death were being charged at this time. One officer, a 37 year old, ten year veteran was charged with second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter while the other officer, a 39 year old, twelve year veteran was charged with involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force. Both were ordered to surrender their weapons.
One can only hope that these indictments will lead to justice for Kelly Thomas and his family. But, as we’ve learned from past incidents involving police officers, just because an officer is charged with a crime doesn’t necessarily mean he will be found guilty of that crime. Case in point the four officers charged in the Rodney King beating. That case appeared to be a slam dunk, yet when they went to trial a jury found them innocent of all charges. And the entire beating had been captured on video for Godsakes! Yet the jury failed to convict and they walked out of the courthouse free men. Justice? I think not.
Fortunately some degree of justice was served a few years later when the four were ordered to stand trial in federal court for violating Rodney King’s civil rights. Ultimately two were found guilty and sent to prison and the other two were acquitted.
Maybe the results of this case will be different. Hopefully more charges are forthcoming followed by swift convictions! It’s the right thing to do. Police Departments have the responsibility of keeping our communities free of crime, but the time has come for the police to begin policing themselves. We cannot allow these officers to take matters into their own hands and exact punishment as they see fit. their job is to protect and serve the public at large. They are not above the law! At the end of their police academy training they all swear an oath of ethics before the police commissioner. an oath that obligates them to be the best that they can be. The oath is as follows:
I DO SOLEMNLY DECLARE UPON MY HONOUR AND CONSCIENCE THAT I WILL ACT AT ALL TIMES TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY AND KNOWLEDGE IN A MANNER BEFITTING A POLICE OFFICER
I WILL PRESERVE THE DIGNITY AND WILL RESPECT THE RIGHTS OF ALL INDIVIDUALS
I WILL DISCHARGE MY DUTIES WITH INTEGRITY AND WILL PROMOTE UNDERSTANDING AND CONCILIATION
I WILL EXERCISE MY AUTHORITY AS A POLICE OFFICER IN THE MANNER INTENDED BY THE LAW
I WILL FAITHFULLY OBEY THE ORDERS OF MY SUPERIORS AND BE READY TO CONFRONT DANGER IN THE LINE OF DUTY
I WILL ACT WITH HONESTY, COURTESY AND REGARD FOR THE WELFARE OF OTHERS, AND WILL ENDEAVOUR TO DEVELOP THE ESPRIT DE CORPS (morale)
I WILL ACT JUSTLY AND IMPARTIALLY AND WITH PROPRIETY TOWARDS MY FELLOW OFFICERS
I WILL CONSTANTLY STRIVE TO HONOUR THIS OATH IN MY SERVICE AS A POLICE OFFICER.
Apparently these Fullerton police officers must have forgotten the oath of ethics on the evening of July 5. They behaved like a gang of street thugs and that is how they should be treated in the courtroom. Ramos’ attorney is already busy protecting his client referring to Ramos as “a peace officer in the lawful performance of his duty” who was merely trying to de-escalate the situation. Peace officer! That attorney has a lot of balls calling Ramos a peace officer! If that was Ramos handling a situation peacefully, I’d hate to see what he would do in the heat of anger! Come on, isn’t that exactly what we saw? Just look at the photo of Kelly when he arrived at the hospital. Those were not ‘peace’ officers that worked him over. No way!
Now we can only hope that an Orange County jury will see the fact and just the facts and not allow themselves to be swayed by the smoke and mirrors tactics the defense is sure to employee. A man died as a result of their actions and they should be made to face the consequences of their actions no matter how dire. The brutality of Kelly Thomas’ death cannot be denied. He deserves justice. We’ll just have to wait and see what the jury decides. Let’s hope for the best.