Brand spanking new interim Police Chief Kevin Hamilton got his name in the paper today, but not in a good way. In an LA Times story Hamilton admits that the goon squad that killed Kelly Thomas on the night of July 5th watched the subsequently top-secret video as they cooked up their “official” reports. Rather than decry this methodology that permitted the killers to get their story straight, Hamilton claims the exercise helped them “refresh” their memories. Of course the Inspector General of the LAPD completely disagrees with this tactic.
Hey, say what?!
Have we not been told for weeks now by people like former police chief/current councilman Pat McKinley as well as our Do Nothing DA Tony Rackauckas that the video cannot be released because it might “taint” the memories of potential witnesses?
So let’s see if I’ve got this straight: video refreshes cop memory; video taints witness memory. Got it?
Hamilton, who admits to having watched the video, also characterizes the incident as a significant “struggle.” Hmm. Well, that’s an improvement on “tussle,” but it makes you wonder what kind of damage it would have taken to cause the new Chief to utter the words: “lethal gang ass kicking.”
And so it appears as if our newly minted chief’s first contact with the media was a load of horse manure.
For you out-of-towners, come to the intersection of Highland Ave and Commonwealth. Exit 91 Freeway at Harbor Blvd. go north two miles and turn left at Commonwealth Ave. Go two blocks west. See you there!
The City Manager has called an emergency meeting of the City Council this morning at 9:00, a mighty odd time to hold a public hearing. The ostensible purpose of this emergency is to hire an outsider to evaluate the condition our FPD condition is in.
It’s pretty obvious that this decision could have waited until the next scheduled meeting. So what’s the emergency? Maybe City Manager Joe Felz and the Gang of Three are trying to look like they are finally, really and truly taking things seriously. And maybe they prefer dealing with Kelly Thomas related humiliations at nine o’clock in the morning to avoid hundreds of angry commenters.
The really pathetic aspect of the abject failure of leadership in Fullerton and this desperate and transparent effort to defuse a recall is that the real emergency existed on July 5, 2011 and was completely unknown to our oblivious City Council, including the supposed law enforce experts Pat McKinley and Don Bankhead. Or maybe they knew and just didn’t care. After all, McKinley was police chief from 1993-2009 and has admitted he hired all the cops who have made Fullerton famous lately; and Bankhead has been on the city council since 1888. Oops. I mean 1988.
F. Dick Jones has been on the council for 15 years; will he not take responsibility for the state of affairs he created?
What about the ever-compassionate Sharon Quirk? She has been on the council for seven long years. How many police-related monetary settlements has she approved?
Well, there you have it. An emergency. But its an emergency created by world-wide attention to the Fullerton Police Department’s culture of corruption, not by the corruption itself.
Well, go ahead and have your emergency meeting, folks. You can run but you can’t hide.
Apparently our city councilman and former police chief, Pat McKinley believes he has the expertise to opine on the severity of Kelly Thomas’s “facial” injuries. You heard him on CNN discount the photo of Kelly’s face. So where did McKinley get his medical degree? Oh, that’s right; his “expertise” stems from having his eyes “bloused” in his career, and look at how handsome he is now!
If you want to get a glimpse of abject stoogery from an employee of a company that another employee has comically referred to as “one of the better news organizations,” take a gander at this drivel from some jackass named David Whiting that was posted yesterday. He’s “reporting” on the mob mentality of those protesting the brutal bludgeoning death of Kelly Thomas at the hands of the Fullerton Police Department. We have noted the bland acceptance of this crime by the Register that has used such gassy descriptions of the lethal attack as “scuffle,” “tussle” and this priceless gem: “the struggle continued until Thomas lost consciousness” (or maybe he just got bored and fell asleep).
First, from the Reg, a scary headline: “Mob Rule Rises After Thomas Death” This is so damned stupid I’ll treat it for what it is – brainless pro-police propaganda. Just like this typical unsubstantiated and utterly irrelevant assertion by Whiting: Sure, there are bad cops. But the vast majority serve with honor and courage.
Reading Whiting’s steaming pile of inaccuracies really makes you wonder whether this clown is actually in the pay of FPD. Let’s hold our collective noses and examine some of it.
Whiting takes exception to those of us who criticize our MIA Chief. According to Whiting, Sellers has been a regular Chatty Cathy, actually having his name mentioned in a two or three press releases issued by Goodrich. Of course we know he hasn’t said anything at all.
Whiting cites a July 11th statement by FPD spokeshole (and cop union official) Andrew Goodrich: a mush-mouth statement (he conveniently ignores all the lies and leaks peddled by this sphincter) indicating the department’s pro-active, hands-0n approach. Alluding to FPD’s immediate attention to this matter, he says the statement was made the day after the Thomas was taken off artificial life support by his dad. But Dave, Thomas was effectively killed on July 5th, six days before this alleged statement; and by July 11th Chief Mike Sellers had long since departed on his two-week vacation (another embarrassing fact omitted by Whiting).
Whiting notes with disdain the “allegations” that the DA’s investigator on the case, Stan Berry, is close personal pals with Sellers, but apparently failed to even make an effort to find out if the “allegations” were true. They must be. The DA didn’t deny it when directly asked.
Once again we are admonished that reasonableness requires that we patiently wait for the investigation to run its course, even though (here’s another inconvenient fact ignored by Whiting) the cops involved refuse to cooperate with the DA.
Protesters are chastised for using intemperate language!
But some of the placards were disturbing. “Who do you call when cops murder?” “Murderers go to jail, murders with badges go on vacation;” “FPD employs murderers.”
Last I checked, “murder” is a word used in a verdict from a jury in a court of law.
Smug bastard, isn’t he? Somehow when we see the picture of a helpless guy whose head has been bashed in by six well-armed, well-fed cops with obvious malice we arrive at the inescapable conclusion that a murder took place. Silly us.
Here’s Whiting’s crescendo of crap:
There are videos in which eyewitnesses state that Thomas died at the bus depot. That didn’t happen. There are statements that officers beat Thomas with a flashlight. The attorney for the officers denies that happened.
Huh? Nobody disputes Kelly was effectively killed at the bus depot – even if taken alive, but brain-dead to UCI, later. Of course the bus riding witnesses didn’t know if he was technically dead or alive. This is just the dirtiest and cheapest chickenshit hair-splitting trick I’ve seen yet from the Police Gang. If Whiting got up off his lazy ass and went to see the bloodstained concrete at the Fullerton bus depot he might not be so fucking glib.
And note also that Whiting is giving credence to statements from the cops’ lawyer. The same cops who refuse to talk to the DA? Did the cop’s lawyer helpfully suggest that a Taser butt might just look like a flashlight to the uninitiated? Wanna place a bet?
It is the duty of the investigators – regardless if they are D.A., FBI or Fullerton’s own – to find out what did happen.
Yes, of course it is their duty. It is also FPD’s duty to serve and protect the public, including Kelly Thomas, rather than bash his brains out in the gutter.
Until then, efforts spent speculating and accusing might be better directed at ensuring that law enforcement is adequately trained to deal with the mentally ill.
Ah, the old misdirection! If only the poor police had better training! No, you useless hack, the issue isn’t ignorance about how to deal with the mentally ill. The issue is that six Fullerton cops Tasered and bludgeoned a helpless human being to death.
You would think even a dim-witted Register employee would get that.
Thus speaketh the knee-jerk supporters of cops, and of course the cops themselves, as they comment here, promoting the temporizing and stalling tactics that have worked so well in the past, and that give the Fullerton Six and the Three Blind Mice confidence that soon the whole Kelly Thomas bludgeoning murder by the police will just blow over.
Yet it occurred to me yesterday after contemplating the words of our erstwhile Do Nothing DA, Tony Rackauckas, that these same proponents of an idiotic two-six month time frame for toxicology and microscopic tests (microscopic tests!), etc., haven’t addressed the rather salient fact that their bad boys in blue refuse to talk to DA investigators, and that with respect to interviewing the closest witnesses to the murder, the investigation will probably never be complete. Now that seems pretty damn hypocritical to me.
Yesterday KFIs John and Ken had an opportunity to interview our District Attorney, Tony Rackauckas on the subject of the Kelly Thomas death investigation. Normally I wouldn’t hold out any hope at all for a lucid explanation of what was going on from T-Rack. After all I’m one of the people who refer to Rackauckas as our “Do Nothing DA” for his historically lackadaisical approach to wrong-doers who also happen to be elected officials and cops.
Rackauckas actually did pretty well, for him. The keynote was his claim that “everything is open.” Again, normally I would take that to mean: everything is open – including, and most likely, no findings and the cops skate, as usual. This is different. Although T-Rack claimed he saw no evidence that there was a deliberate intent to kill, he also said that the video is “core evidence” which strongly suggests that he may actually do something.
Now this may be no more than lawyer speak but I am guardedly optimistic, especially since Rackaukas admitted that his investigators have not spoken to any of The Fullerton Six who have refused to speak to them. He also indicated that it wasn’t absolutely necessary to talk to them given the core evidence. Hmm. It seemed to me that the DA was tossing out backhanded signals that some of the cops may want to sing if they want to avoid a long state prison stay for second degree murder. Of course maybe I’m reading too much into this.
On the down side Rackauckas refused to take blame for appointing and not removing Stan Berry, a good friend of Fullerton Police Chief Sellers to the investigation. This looks bad to everybody in the free world, except Rackauckas. And he said nothing about the possibility of cops cooking up their reports in concert.
The most frustrating thing about the awful story of the death of Kelly Thomas and its aftermath is not knowing what goes on behind the closed doors of the Fullerton Police Department. Certainly a position of leadership comes with the obligation to take responsibility for what goes on within a department, but even if a Police Chief falls on his sword and resigns or is forced out of his job we really don’t know what is happening with the individual officers who comprise the police force. One of the most repeated statements heard from the many irate speakers at Tuesday night’s council meeting was that the police work for us, not the other way around.
Fullerton has commissions for parks and planning, and committees for transportation, infrastructure, the library, energy, community grants, investments, technology and even bicycles and the arboretum. One way or another, they oversee or at least review the activities of various city departments, namely Parks and Recreation, Engineering, the Library and Community Development. Why is there no commission to oversee the Police Department?
Other cities have them. A Fullerton Police Commission won’t prevent every mistake or outright crime committed by individual officers, but it could create appropriate policies and procedures, review individual cases, have access to all documents and recordings (like the notoriously unreleased tape of the beating of Mr. Thomas), advise the city council on matters of employment before the city council, and generally audit the effectiveness of the department.
If we are truly in charge of the Fullerton Police Department we should assert our authority and acknowledge our collective responsibility to oversee its policies and actions. It’s our department, let’s treat it that way.
During Saturday’s protest we met a new witness to the Kelly Thomas police beating. Here is Edward, a CSUF grad and regular bus rider who told us he watched the entire event unfold from the bus platform…
Edward says he saw one bystander taking pictures with a cell phone camera who was then accused of “interfering” with an investigation. She was grabbed by a police officer who forcefully took her cell phone away. He believes that the woman was then taken into custody.
It is illegal for police to confiscate a bystander’s camera without a court order, unless the camera was used in the commission of a crime (hence the trumped up “you’re interfering with my investigation” charge.) Whether or not this person was actually booked, she would have most certainly been intimidated into giving up her property.
The DA hasn’t acknowledged receipt of any recordings other than the one from the city’s surveillance camera. So where did that cell phone go? And what about that other recording from the local real estate agent who was approached by police after the beating?
Anyone who was threatened by the police on the night of Kelly Thomas’ beating is invited to call or email this blog, anonymously if necessary. If you know somebody who was there, you are also invited to share any information that you have with us.