Recently an event in my own life involving campus police at Cal State Fullerton, a public university in Southern California, has caused me, this Christmas season, to reflect upon the nature of justice and police misconduct in America.
I have been politically conservative all my life and generally side with law enforcement and the the American military on most issues. However, I have to admit that I am concerned about the rise of police brutality in the United States. The recent cases of a police officer shooting an unarmed running man down in South Carolina and the disconcerting example of a man being shot 16 times by police in Chicago, has outraged me.
Despite my general support for law enforcement throughout this country, In recent years there have been alarming reports of the rise of police brutality in America. From the tragic examples of deaths caused by police in the Eric Garner case in nearby New York City and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the United States has been rocked by claims of excessive force, gross misconduct and shocking brutality.
While the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases deserve the national attention they receieved, one of the most shocking and obvious cases of police brutality ever to occur in America has seldom been reported by the national media.
The incident I refer to pertains to the night in Orange County, California when Fullerton police used unjustified and excessive force to murder an unarmed homeless man named Kelly Thomas.
I call what the Fullerton police did to Kelly Thomas “murder” and “police brutality,” because it is doubtful, that in the history of America there has ever been a more glaring example of law enforcement officers using excessive force to detain and ultimately murder an unarmed man, than in the incident that led to the untimely death of Kelly Thomas.
What is equally shocking, is that the police officers most responsible for the death of Kelly Thomas walked away from their trials, free men.
Yet, the facts of the Kelly Thomas affair remain. No amount of revisionism and legal gymnastics can cover up the fact that police killed an unarmed homeless man in Fullerton, California.
On the night of July, 5, 2011, Kelly Thomas, a young homeless man, diagnosed with schizophrenia was savagely beaten to death by two members of the Fullerton, California police department.
The officers under question, Manuel Ramos, and Joseph Wolfe, brutally attacked and beat Mr. Thomas without justification. After his savage beating at the hands of these two Fullerton Police officers, Mr.Thomas, was taken to a nearby hospital called, St.Jude Medical Center before being transferred in a comatose and grotesquely disfigured condition to the UC Irvine Medical center.
Sadly, Mr.Thomas did not recover from his savage beating by Fullerton police and died without regaining consciousness five days later on July 10, 2011.
Before and after pictures of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man who was killed by law enforcement officers in Fullerton, California
The fallout of this incident of clear police brutality saw office Manuel Ramos being charged with second-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter. Two other Fullerton police officers were charged with felony manslaughter and the use of excessive force. All three of those rogue cops plead not guilty to their crimes and were ultimately allowed to walk out of court free men by a corrupt and incompetent legal system in Orange County, California.
On January 13, 2014, two of the police officers most responsible for Kelly Thomas’ death were found not guilty of all charges by a an alleged “jury of their peers.”
The public outcry and fallout of this unjust legal ruling led to massive protests and the recall of local politicians in Fullerton, but the fact is, a homeless man named Kelly Thomas was savagely beaten and killed by police officers.
I have watched the video tapes of this incident, and my eyes saw Kelly Thomas being put to death by Fullerton police without cause. The video shows police provoking and beating Mr. Thomas for no reason whatsoever.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview a homeless associate and friend of Kelly Thomas at the very scene of the crime. This gentleman was an eyewitness to Mr. Thomas’ brutal beating and untimely death at the hands of Fullerton police officers and says he heard Kelly Thomas crying our for the assistance of his father while Fullerton police struck him savagely over and over again with their police batons.
While four years and some change have passed since Fullerton police killed Kelly Thomas without warrant and justification, I am still outraged by the whole ordeal and will question forever the fairness of law enforcement in Fullerton, California.
Recently, due to a series of unfortuitous circumstances and a misunderstanding, I myself was detained by the police department of Cal State Fullerton.
During this incident with Cal State Fullerton’s police department, I saw firsthand how quickly things can get out of hand with various members of law enforcement in America.
In a split second, one’s life can be snuffed out by a zealous cop. Fortunately, I somehow managed to survive my unpleasant “detention” by CSUF’s police, but Kelly Thomas did not.
While I believe the vast majority of law enforcement officers in America are doing a satisfactory job, an innocent civilian can be beaten by a police officer relatively quickly and without cause in this country.
Because the brutal tactics of many police officers across America, I am now calling for massive and systemic changes in the way police officers relate to and engage the public. Too many innocent Americans are dying on the streets of America by rogue cops with an agenda to brutalize, for my tastes.
As a libertarian proponent of a minimal state and small government, I am not sympathetic to idea of America becoming a police state, where police officers can detain and beat innocent civilians without cause. In fact, I do not believe the police should be able to use force against America’s civilian population in the vast majority of incidents.
I managed to survive my ordeal with law enforcement this time. The next time, I could end up like Kelly Thomas, dead and abandoned on the streets of Fullerton.