One of the most shocking things to emerge from the Preliminary Trial of Manny Ramos and Jay Cicinelli for the killing of Kelly Thomas are the statements made by Fullerton Fire Department personnel that the cops received attention to their miscellaneous scrapes as Thomas, whose face had just been bashed in, and who was suffocating in his own blood, lay ignored nearby.
For pure callousness, incomprehensible inhumanity, and well, evil, it’s pretty hard to beat this story. The images of minor scratches sustained by the Fullerton cops is comical, especially given the fact that were sustained committing a crime; juxtaposed to the image of Kelly Thomas’s shattered face they present ample evidence about the nature of the beat down delivered to the homeless man.
Hilariously, Manny Ramos was quoted as saying he’d been in “the fight of my life.” Given that he was seventy pounds overweight, notoriously lazy and obviously a coward, this may actually be a true statement. Certainly it will provide a good headline for Lou Ponsi. But Ramos’ injury received a bandaid and off he went. Kelly Thomas is dead. He was dying on the pavement, alone and unattended, as the cops that killed him got first aid.
Nearly a year ago FFFF started what would turn into a long string of investigations into the FPD Culture of Corruption by telling the tale of a young man who claimed that he was beaten and abused by Fullerton cops during a downtown arrest.
There were plenty of skeptics here, and there was a barrage of personal abuse leveled against the man by anonymous FPD goons. At least there was until we published the results of an internal investigation, here, in which at least part of the victim’s assertions were confirmed.
Well last week another of Pat McKinley’s chickens emerged on the horizon, coming home to roost. Andrew Trevor Clarke filed a federal civil suit against Fullerton PD employees Tong, Contino, Hampton, Bolden, Salazar and Sellers.
Update: When you’re trying to pierce the veil of secrecy in a police department bent on concealing its officers’ misdeeds, some of the details come through a little fuzzy. I recently received some corrected information on officer Mater’s role in the arrest, highlighted in red below. Note that Mater is still the officer who (allegedly) destroyed his audio recording and was later fired.
I’ve also noticed that almost an entire year has gone by, but Officer Mater has not been charged with destruction of evidence. The DA is reportedly still “working on the case.”
A Brady Officer is a cop with a sustained record for knowingly lying in an official capacity. A Brady cop’s testimony in court is almost worthless, which makes you wonder why a police department such as Fullerton would bother to employ one.
The word was that the jailarresting officer by the name of Vince Mater had broken apart his audio recorder and smashed the chip containing a recording in the immediate aftermath of the suicide. Whatever was captured on that recording before and during the arrestee’s suicide, we’ll never know.
A few months later, Officer Mater was quietly fired.
Well, now we’ve found new state court docs revealing that the DA had also declared Mater to be a “Brady officer.”
We don’t know how Officer Mater earned his status as certified liar, but if it was so bad that even the FPD couldn’t look the other way, well…it must have been pretty bad.
Mater’s name did appear in an OC Register story in November 2010 about the wrongful incarceration of Emanuel Martinez at the hands of the FPD, in which Mater was johnny-on-the-spot with a gang tag that helped send the wrong guy to jail.
Fast forward to 2011, when the FPD ends up with a dead guy in jail, a smashed recorder, another cop on paid leave and presumably another set of lawsuits.
Oh, and one more thing: for all the City’s talk of transparency and its employment of several highly-compensated Public Information Officers, all of this information was kept from the public until…well, today.
We have already documented dime store psychologist Pat McKinley’s pompous blather about how it was necessary to use nunchucks on pro-life protesters because of their super-human resistance to pain.
And for McKinley, pain is the name of the game. When you want to try out a new toy from your chamber of horrors, well, hell, you’re going to need justification. So why not cook up some psychological mumbo-jumbo?
Someone with a little bit of real psychological training might suspect that Pat McKinley has an unhealthy obsession with the application of pain. Judging by the actions of cops he hand-picked to patrol the streets of downtown Fullerton, I think it’s fair to say that sometime between 1993 and 2009 the problem spread like contagion in McKinley’s police department. Was it his game plan, or was he just not paying attention. The signals he was sending his boys was clear enough.
We have seen the videos and read the accounts. Then there’s this:
The systemic pattern of abuse that defines the Fullerton Police Department is well-established. But the allegations detailed in this newly emerging case might give even hardened FFFF readers pause. There seems to be no end to accounts of thuggish, sadistic Fullerton cops getting their sick jollies by brutalizing innocent citizens.
Fullerton College student and Fullerton resident Christopher Spicer Janku, 23 at the time, was with 4 friends around 1:30 AM on the night of August 17, 2008 when the car one of them was driving was pulled over for purportedly running a stop sign on Wilshire Avenue, in Downtown Fullerton. Chris tells his story:
All rookie looking officers who were looking for fun, I’ve never heard so much rude language from any cop. They arrested me on false charges of being drunk in public, (even though they wouldn’t give me a sobriety test even after I asked them to give me one because they knew I wasn’t intoxicated). I was sitting on the curb with my hands behind my back, a cop came over to put hand cuffs on me, he told me to put my hands behind my back, but they already were. Before I could even say “officer my hands are already crossed behind my back” the officer grabbed my neck and slammed my face into the curb while yelling out “stop resisting!” Another officer grabbed me by the legs and dragged me by the knees, shredding my knee caps.
There were five officers at the scene. The gangleader and arresting office was one Officer Perry Thayer. Janku goes on to describe his torture at the hands of this dedicated public servant:
Another officer then TOOK HIS BOOT and slammed it on my head, pinning it between the curb and used it as leverage to squeeze pressure on my head. I HONESTLY THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO DIE, I WAS SCREAMING PLEASE STOP I’M NOT RESISTING, I THOUGHT MY HEAD WAS GOING TO CAVE IN. I still have migraines to this day. another cop came over and dropped kneed me in the back. Everybody watching was in awe, THEY KEPT YELLING OUT “PLEASE STOP, HE’S NOT RESISTING!”
He (Thayer) was the one who slammed me face first into a curb and then put my head in the gutter face first with his boot on my head. He purposely put my face into a gutter full of disgusting dirty gutter water to the point where I was almost choking on it, and pushed down on my head to the point where my head almost caved it and I was screaming for my life. If you look at my mug shot, there is nothing but dirty, muddy gutter water and blood all over my face.
Next, our helpful Bobbies – Officer Thayer and his partner Officer Anthony Diaz – took Janku on a joyride from hell. Chris explains:
They put me in the squad car without seatbelting me in and went on a joy ride while blaring satanic heavy metal music in my ear until my eardrums almost exploded. Around 6-7 times they would hit the gas and then slam on the brakes, so that I was forced to keep cracking my face on the cage.
FFFF readers will recall that although clearly unconstitutional, this is a common FPD procedure, informally known as a “screen test.” Spicer remembers seeing the car pass the Police station, and asked the cops where they were taking him. Their response: “Shut the F up.” After the brake-checks:
I came to the department and automatically filed a complaint about the brutality. They put me in a jail cell bleeding from my head down to my feet and bruised and battered WITHOUT EVEN GIVING ME MEDICAL AID.
Janku was unable to figure out what exactly had set Thayer off. Maybe when he asked Thayer to not thumb through the photos on his cell phone? Or perhaps this cretinous goon needs no excuse to assault, batter, and violate the civil rights of the taxpayers who pay his ample salary? Janku’s friend was arrested as well, for simply asking for his ID back from the cops who had taken and failed to return it.
As for the police brutality complaint? A complete and total stonewall. The detective in charge deliberately misinterpreted the clear audio recording of Janku’s friends yelling “he’s not resisting!” and asked him “why were you resisting?” He also had the temerity to ask Janku why he had blood and mud all over his face.
After checking regularly for months and getting no response, Janku was told recently that he had better contact an attorney. Of course, this is after the statute of limitations had run out and a lawsuit is impossible. What is Janku left with, besides the bruises and migraines? Just the awful memories:
I’ve been afraid to go outside my house ever since, I have nightmares and panic attacks from the injustice.
Janku adds that he is unwilling to go to downtown Fullerton since the incident, and one of his friends there that evening is so terrified he refuses to set foot in Fullerton, period. Way to help out our local economy, coppers!
Unlike the marginally more fortunate Veth Mam and Edward Quinonez, Janku is unable to sue the City and make them pay for their abuses. And Officer Thayer? Why, he went on to win the coveted Turkey Bowl police football championship along with his buds – the noted false arrest/perjury specialists Kenton Hampton and Frank Nguyen, of Veth Mam lawsuit fame.
Just another night of death-metal mayhem, beating, torture, false arrest, and random abuse of the public by Fullerton’s Finest. No pattern to see here, folks. Move along, now. No need for that department-wide Department of Justice investigation of police brutality and misconduct. Keep moving.
Wow! Remember this story we posted way back on June 14th? It’s about a guy who claimed to have gotten physically assaulted by the FPD, who he says robbed him, and threw him in jail. Back in June this guy’s story was assaulted also, likely by the same goons who beat him up. Officer Cary Tong was identified as the culprit in the case, and, perhaps we should start including his name on the FPD Hall of Shame roster.
In light of all the horror stories that have emerged from the FPD dungeons since we posted this story, it seems more credible than ever. I wonder if all the trolls who tried the hair-splitting approach to discredit him are having second thoughts.
And I wonder if this guy has had the good sense to contact Garo Mardirossian.
– Joe Sipowicz
When we posted a college student’s allegations of police brutality last week, several commenters responded by calling the victim a liar and saying that the claim could not possibly be true.
Well, here is the truth according to FPD’s own Internal Affairs department: the complaint containing allegations of brutality and theft was “sustained” against FPD Officer Cary Tong.
The letter from Chief Michael Sellers calls officer Tong’s actions “inappropriate and not within policy,” and states unequivocally that “a finding of sustained means that the evidence indicates that the complaint was well founded.“
Officer Cary Tong was listed as both the arresting and booking officer that night, putting him at the center of the entire event described by the victim in the complaint. That complaint included a long list of violent actions against the young man while he was handcuffed, including the deliberate breaking of his finger, theft of his personal cash and several beatings both at the arrest scene and during his booking at the jail.
The opaque and severely limited disclosures made in this non-public letter are a direct testament the police union’s lobbying power, which has fostered laws and an internal culture that encourages police departments to protect bad officers and keep their abuses secret from the public. In this case, we still don’t know if the officer was punished with a light slap on the wrist or even disciplined at all.
In all likelihood, Officer Tong is still patrolling the streets of Fullerton. Shoot, he might even pull you over tonight.
Just for those of you who mistakenly believe FFFF has only recently become interested in the doings and misdoings of our police force, here’s a post originally published October 7, 2009 – exactly two years ago, detailing the way in which the esteemed Pat McKinley molly-coddled the worst of his boys, who just happened to be President of the Fullerton Police Officer’s Association, the union that supports the councilmen cover-up artists Jones, Bankhead, and (surprise, surprise) Pat McKinley.The incidents described here took place six years ago, leading a reasonable person to infer that the culture of corruption cultivated by McKinley has deep roots, indeed.
Enjoy a blast from the past courtesy of the FFFF archives!
– Joe Sipowicz
Officer misconduct cases are usually handled behind closed doors, hidden away from the public who are ultimately the victims when cops go bad. Recently a document slipped out from underneath the curtain and gave us some insight into Chief McKinley’s department, which had a habit responding to officer misconduct by looking the other way and pressuring victims to stay silent — demonstrating brazen contempt for the rule of law.
Officers John Cross and Gregg Nowling were caught on tape in the 2005 beating of a young man who was pulled over for playing his music too loud. Fearing outrage, the department refused to release the recording to the public. Nowling resigned, but John Cross was the president of the Fullerton Police Officers Association (the union), so he decided to take his chances and ride out the punishment that was sure to be nothing more than a token admonishment from his friendly boss, Chief Patrick McKinley.
John Cross should have been fired and sued, but a deal was allegedly struck with the victim in which charges would be dropped if the young man kept quiet. This allowed the department head to give Cross a mere slap on the wrist – a two step demotion in pay for the next two years.
When nobody was paying attention, Chief McKinley eliminated John Cross’ punishment one year early:
The record shows that almost immediately, John Cross began another series of disturbing actions that ultimately forced the department to fire him. The Council found one example most frightening – Officer Cross had covered up an incident involving a drunk off-duty sheriff who was brandishing his weapon in public. He also failed to follow up on a potential suicide when it was only a few doors down from his location. At least six of these events involved Cross’ turning off his audio recorder in violation of department policy.
There are plenty of other allegations of McKinley’s department looking the other way when incidents were perpetrated by those the department favored, and this is only one of the most severe. As one of our commenters said, McKinley’s game was played at the the expense of our community’s safety, peace, and tax dollars.
The Killing of Kelly Thomas & The Power of New Media by Paul Detrick of Reason.com analyzes the effectiveness of amateur video, internet communication and the perseverance of ordinary citizens against the intransigence of institutional power.
Note CSUF Professor Jarrett Lovell’s assessment of the Fullerton Police Department’s Public Information Officer.