During public comments at last night’s council meeting, at least two members of the public remarked that during the protests of the Kelly Thomas killing last fall, then captain, now Acting Chief Dan Hughes told them to wait until the video came out, and then they would see things differently.
Well, now that these people have seen the video, their reaction is not exactly what Mr. Hughes seemed to be waiting for. And this begs a very important question that goes to the heart of both Hughes’ character and the FPD Culture of Corruption.
First let us suppose and dispose the notion that Hughes’ admonition to the protesters was nothing more than a ploy to stall for time. Coming from a department in turmoil that hadn’t got a clue what to do or how to do it, temporizing may be seen as an understandable, if pathetic strategy.
But now let’s give the situation a little more thought. By his own remarkable admission, Hughes had seen the video 400 times. That’s ridiculous of course, but he obviously watched his boys kill an innocent man lots of times. Dozens? A hundred? Enough times perhaps, that he became inured to the unnecessary and inexcusable brutality. In a mental effort to defend the indefensible and picking apart the video like a defense lawyer in order to come up with plausible explanations that would get the killers off the hook, Hughes may well have lost sight of the murder of a human being played and replayed in front of his very eyes. And that’s bad.
But it might be even worse. It may very well be that in watching the video our Acting Chief saw nothing wrong going on, nothing outside of the policy and training that he espouses. After all, there is a reason that the cops went to work the very next day as if nothing untoward had happened. There is a reason that four of the aiders and abettors still remain on paid leave, a weird limbo in which they continue to be remunerated until the Gennaco report can be used to justify some action or other. It’s as if there is no procedural mechanism in place at all to deal with the sort of cops who stand around as the object of their brutality is dying, untended, a few away.
For those who mistakenly believe that Sharon Quirk and Hughes have ushered in some new period of reform in the FPD I suggest you think again. Apart from some alleged sensitivity training I assert that nothing has changed in the FPD’s culture at all, a culture that recently rewarded a loyal purveyor of disinformation with a promotion.