Reading the Tea Leaves: Parsing the Statements out of the DA’s Office

Attorney Mark Cabaniss has provided us with more expert analysis on the potential prosecution of the Fullerton police officers responsible for Kelly Thomas’ death:

It is getting close to decision time for the DA in the Kelly Thomas case.  While the investigation is still not completed and must be before any charges are brought, if any are brought, some of us are nervous, and increasingly disturbed at the way things are going, or not going, and at the unseemly deference given to the six police.

Unfortunately, in public pronouncements about the case, the Orange County DA’s office has sometimes given the impression that they are on the side of the police, even though the police are the criminal suspects.  This is unusual.  Usually the DA is on the side of the people, and against the alleged criminals.  Usual prosecutorial practice is to charge as many people as possible, with the most serious charges possible, in order to create the most leverage for the DA to get people to plead guilty and settle the case without a trial.  For example, in a case with multiple defendants, the DA might make a deal for one or more defendants to agree to testify against the other defendant(s) in exchange for reduced charges, or even outright immunity.  And in every case the DA charges the most serious charges warranted by the facts, so that he can get the defendant to plead guilty to a less serious charge, in exchange for getting rid of the more serious charge.  But in this case, the Kelly Thomas case, the DA has set a pattern of preemptive surrender, conceding points to the (possible) criminal defense even before any charges are filed, indeed, even before the investigation is complete.


OCTA Uncut

A month ago we posted the OCTA surveillance video that captured the immediate reaction of witnesses after the Kelly Thomas beating.

Here is the full video from OCTA Bus 5599’s DVR on July 5. Perhaps our more observant readers can glean new information from the 18 minute recording. As always, leave your observations in the comments section below.

Update: As suggested by EyeNeverSayNo, I ran the audio through a noise reducer to help clarify some of the conversation. That version of the video his here.

The video shows all seven cameras at once and is best viewed full screen at 720p.

The Fullerton 6: A Death Penalty Case

Here is a guest blog from Mark Cabaniss, an attorney who has worked as both a prosecutor and as a public defender. Mark has written several interesting pieces on the Kelly Thomas case over at

Reportedly, the Orange County DA is waiting for the coroner’s report before deciding whether to file charges against the six Fullerton police in the beating death of Kelly Thomas.  As the medical evidence comes in, it looks increasingly likely that charges will be filed.  But will the charges, if they are brought, be minimal, or will they be serious?  Will they be the most serious charges warranted by the evidence?  We don’t know.  What we do know is that Kelly Thomas died after six Fullerton police severely beat him.  The DA is still waiting for the official cause of death to be determined, but for the sake of this article, I am going to assume that the death came about as a result of the beating.  Now let us make two further assumptions:  First, that the police were committing a crime during the beating leading to the death, and second, that the death was unintentional, i.e., an unplanned consequence of the beating.  If that is what happened, that the police illegally beat Kelly Thomas and he subsequently died as a result of that beating, then there are two ways to charge the case under California law, depending on whether the police were committing a misdemeanor, such as simple battery, or a felony, such as kidnapping or torture.  If the underlying crime was a misdemeanor, then the case would properly be charged as involuntary manslaughter.  But if the underlying crime was a felony, then the case would properly be charged as felony murder.

The difference is simple.  Suppose you get in a bar fight and get your arms around a guy, trying to throw him down.  He stumbles out of your grasp, but, unfortunately for you, (and him,) he trips and falls, smacking his head on something hard, killing him.  This would be a textbook case of involuntary manslaughter, because the death was an unintended consequence of your misdemeanor, i.e., simple battery.  Now consider the same hypothetical, only this time you grab the guy not in a bar fight, but in a kidnapping.  Again, he trips, falls, and dies.  Now this is a case of felony murder, since the death resulted from your felony, i.e., kidnapping.


UCI Docs Say Kelly Died From Blunt Force Trauma, Assault

The attorney for the Thomas family released some medical reports from UCI today. They say that Kelly Thomas was brain dead from head trauma as the result of an assault and there were no drugs or alcohol found in his system

View the records

Chris went up to Garo Mardirossian’s press conference today to get the details. Check out the Taser demonstration at the end of the video.

A Closer Look at the FPD’s Handiwork

KTLA has just released imagery put together by doctors hired by Garo Mardirossian. The reconstructed images show that Kelly Thomas suffered from a severely broken nose, a broken cheek, three broken ribs, taser wounds, a collapsed lung and a brain injury from lack of oxygen.

Ethmoid plate fracture
Zygomatic arch fracture
Anoxic brain injury
Taser wounds
Brain scan demonstrating oxygen deprivation
Fractured ribs

FFFF Exclusive. The Crime Scene Photos that the FPD Forgot to Confiscate

When that cop intimidated Bunny and took her roll of film shortly after the brutal beating of Kelly Thomas, he didn’t realize that Bunny had already used up another roll of film taking pictures of the crime scene. She thought that roll was useless. She was mistaken.

That roll of film escaped the clutches of the Fullerton police and these photos were developed over the weekend:

The pictures are chilling, knowing what we know now about how Kelly died. Yes, we can see light reflected in the pool of blood near the cops feet – right next to the front right wheel of the patrol car. The light pole to the right of the picture is where Kelly’s Memorial has been set up.

The one thing that strikes me most is the way the FPD are not treating this like a crime scene.

Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Homicide Scene Photographer Claims Intimidation By Police; Film Destroyed

Here is our interview with a woman named Bunny, who was taking photographs of the scene where Kelly Thomas was killed on the night of July 5th.

Bunny says a Fullerton police officer intimidated her into handing over film from her 35mm camera, thereby exposing and destroying the film in the process. While she admits to turning over the film voluntarily, I note that the policeman in question took possession it – for reasons that remain unexplained, and at which point the cop’s belligerent attitude ceased.

She also notes that the District Attorney is aware of this incident and also of the destruction of the film.


The Missing Phone Call

On July 5th Kelly Thomas was approached by police supposedly because the cops had received a report of a man trying to burglarize cars in the parking lot.

Here’s the problem:  A Friend has confirmed through a records request that there were only two calls to the police for auto burglary in the Fullerton Transportation Center on July 5th, and neither one had anything to do with Kelly Thomas or anyone else in the area at the time.

View the reports

In fact, one call was made early in the morning and the other came in at 11:30 pm, well after Kelly Thomas had already been beaten to death. Both calls were for stolen catalytic converters, an unlikely target for a homeless man with no tools.

So what really led officers to investigate a vehicle burglary at 8:30 pm on July 5th? Why were no calls logged or reports taken before Kelly was arrested? Who reported a crime, and how did they report it without going through the dispatch system?

It’s really starting to look like the whole burglary thing was an invention; an excuse to harass a homeless guy who wasn’t doing anything wrong.

Flight of the Slidebros

The quality of the bus depot surveillance footage on the night of Kelly Thomas’ beating is still a mystery, but here’s a demonstration of the low-light and zoom capabilities of that same camera taken on August 16th (including with some random zoom footage from an identical model camera obtained elsewhere.)

This camera is about 150 ft. away from the spot where the beating took place. In this example, the camera was aligned to capture the comings and goings of Slidebar patrons on a Tuesday night.