According to our Friend Scott Moxley over at the OC Weekly, the mother of Kelly Thomas, Cathy Thomas has sued our illustrious District Attorney, Tony Rackauckas. It seems she wants to gain access to materials collected by the DA about the murder of her son by officers of the Fullerton Police Department.
Naturally, the DA said no, forcing Ms. Thomas to sue.
It sure would be nice for someone outside of law enforcement to takle a look at just how the DA came up with the dubious theory that only two cops were implicated in criminal activity; that Officer Joe Wolfe had no idea what was going on just 15 feet from where he was standing; or why he exculpated Hampton and Blatney who not only made made no effort to stop Cicinelli’s tasering and beatdown on Kelly, but seemed to have piled on; his take on the role of Sergeant Craig who seems to have coordinated mop-up operations while the dying man was waiting for hospital transportation; his reasoning behind not charging superiors in a blatant criminal conspiracy to cover up the misdeeds of the McKinley Six.
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.
Here’s a comical OC Register post from today. I say comical somewhat tongue-in-cheek because almost all Register posts and articles are comical these days.
According to this one, the intrepid journalist Doug Irvine tried to squeeze some information out of the DA – such as the names of the cops who beat on Kelly Thomas’s head like a kettle drum with their taser handles.
The response from our Do-nothing DA? Oooooh! We have so many scary threats these days that we just can’t say anything. Well, there was one, at least!
Of course over at the the beleaguered FPD, spokesbozo Andrew Goodrich supplied his comrades at The Register with a scary bomb threat story (nothing was found, of course). Poor babies.
Jeezus, you wouldn’t think such heavily-armed and highly trained experts would be so easily intimidated, now would you? Apparently they are weak as kittens when the chips are down, even with their McKinley vests, and this justifies the ongoing secrecy. The logic is inescapable, right?
The funny thing is to observe how the Register writer, rather than take the useless DA and FPD to task for their obvious lack of transparency, turns his article into a weepy sob story about the poor, defenseless cops. And of course the fact of the DA spending more time on threats to his office because of his lackluster investigation than on the investigation itself just drips with irony. Could that irony really be lost on Mr. Irving. It would appear so.
Here’s the money quote that references our humble blog:
The District Attorney’s Office also cited as a threat an entry on the Friends for Fullerton’s Future blog, which has dug into the Kelly Thomas case: “Someone should make these officers contact information and addresses public.”
Blogger Travis Kiger said that wasn’t a threat, and said he hasn’t seen any specific threats on the Friends for Fullerton’s Future blog. He challenged the District Attorney Office’s decision to keep the names secret.
“They release the names of suspected criminals every single day,” he said. “I don’t understand in this case how it would be any different.”
The District Attorney’s Office is “looking into” the one alleged threat that it received, Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder said. Fullerton Police are “taking the threats seriously” but have no active criminal investigations into them, Goodrich said.
“They’ve all been anonymous in nature,” he said. “They would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to track.”
You’ve got to be kidding. Just goes to show you the extent to which the “law enforcement” establishment will go to protect its safety (or pretend to) while blowing off our safety – from them! And when the cops release information about suspects do they give a rat’s ass about their safety? Of course they don’t.
So did the FPD really receive a bomb threat? Who knows? But it’s gotten impossible to believe a single solitary thing that emanates from Andrew Goodrich’s mouth.
The folks over at PBS SoCal were kind enough to let us post this “Inside OC” special on the Kelly Thomas story in its entirety. It contains interviews with Ron Thomas, Bruce Whitaker, Chris Thompson and a couple of milquetoast experts on homelessness and mental illness.
Most notable, however, is the Q&A with District Attorney Tony Rackauckaus. His persistent insistence that witnesses (and the rest of the public) not be able to view any videos before they testify is reduced to a mere “preference,” but only after he is confronted with the likelihood that police officers watched the recording as they coordinated their own reports on the incident.
The case for keeping that tape away from the public seems to diminish every time one of these goofs steps in front of a camera.
We may have figured out why it took the District Attorney investigators three weeks to start talking to witnesses on the Kelly Thomas police beating case…
According to this unsigned note that just came in to our website, Chief Sellers is a close personal friend of DA investigator Stan Berry, who was immediately assigned to the high-profile Fullerton case:
I suggest you check into the connection between Investigator Berry and FPD Chief Sellers. Sellers hired Berry when he was the Chief at Seal Beach PD. Sellers and his wife Rita Fraser-Sellers, are close personal friends with Berry and his wife, Kristen Berry, the Dispatch Supervisor in Seal Beach. They socialize together, vacation together and entertain each other in their respective homes.
Of all the DA investigators, why choose Berry, other than he will help cover for his friend.
Presumably that case assignment was a decision made by the DA Tony Rackauckas. I have confirmed that Berry worked as an investigator under Chief Sellers for the Seal Beach Police Department.
As for as the familial socializing, entertaining and vacationing together…maybe the Chief can clear that one up for us.
If our informant is correct, this would be a huge conflict of interest in a very high-profile investigation.
I’ve just heard from Mark Turgeon, an eye witness in the Kelly Thomas police beating death that he has NOT been contacted by the Orange County District Attorney’s office. You may remember that the District Attorney is supposed to be investigating the horrific incident.
Since the event happened almost three weeks ago, this is rather disturbing. This individual was immediately questioned by Fullerton police so there is no reason that the DA doesn’t have the ability to follow up with a crucial witness.
You may remember that the Coroner has already said that the cause of death is uncertain.
An Orange County judge signed a permanent gang injunction against Fullerton Tokers Town yesterday, creating a “Safety Zone” that covers a wide swath of south Fullerton as shown below. Members of FTT are now forbidden from associating with each other, intimidating the public, making gang signs, wearing gang clothing, violating curfew and other shenanigans often associated with gang activity.
Twenty-eight members of FTT were named in the suit, nine of whom are apparently already in prison. Current membership is estimated at 125-150 active members.
Gang injunctions allow prosecutors to charge gang members for harassing or intimidating behavior which would not otherwise be a crime. Presumably this will make it easier for the Fullerton Police to crack down on gang members without any conventional crime occurring.
And that’s exactly what makes gang injunctions controversial in Orange County. A few weeks ago the ACLU won a case against the OC DA when a judge determined that naming gang members in the city of Orange without providing them an opportunity to defend themselves in court was a violation of their right to due process. More than 60 alleged Orange Varrio Cypress gang members had tried to appear in court to testify that they were not actually gang members. DA Tony Rackauckas dropped them from the case, but then served the injunction on them anyway.
Rackauckas lost that one, so presumably he was more careful about who he’s calling a gang member here in Fullerton.
Over at the Voice of OC(EA) Norberto Santana reports that his uncovering of Dick Ackerman’s billing logs from his days as a lobbyist for the rogue Fair Board has spurred a formal investigation by the State Fair Political Practices Commission.
See, former legislators are prohibited from lobbying their former colleagues for one year after their departure. Ackerman left the State Senate at the end of 2008 and started making those embarrassing calls in the summer of 2009 – in order to facilitate the sale of the Orange County Fair to a secret cabal made up of its own Boardmembers. We first wrote about that a-way back here in the fall of 2009 passing along the excellent work of the OC Progressive and Vern Nelson at the Orange Juice blog.
Of course the most embarrassing part of this slimy episode was the way one year later our do-nothing DA Tony Rackauckas tried to whitewash the whole stinking affair in order to protect his ‘puglet pals. See, T-Rack has plenty of time to harass Toyota and Muslim students at UCI, but apprently he has a lot less taste for going after political miscreants of either party.
But the truth will out, as they say. And the Ackerman deal just keeps resurfacing. Of course the FPPPC has no real authority except to levy fines and it looks to me like a real prosecutor is really what’s called for here.
With much hullabaloo, the OC District Attorney’s PR machine announced the first mobile application “ever launched by a prosecutorial agency.” A dubious use of taxpayer dollars, sure. But there’s more to this app than just Rackauckas’ duplicitous grin.
An FFFF staffer who installed the T-Rack app immediately discovered an alert indicating that the DA was seeking out his current location via GPS and cell triangulation. Hey, that’s pretty creepy!
Of course, the irony of the DA’s mobile intrusion is not lost on FFFF. Remember when his bumbling prosecutors couldn’t manage to track down Supervisorial hopeful Harry Sidhu after he lied about his residence at the lovely Calabria apartments in Anaheim? We even got real Private Eye to gather the evidence and draw him a map. It was a slam dunk.
But even with the goods sitting right under the prosecutor’s nose, Anaheim’s craftiest carpetbagger still managed to elude justice… at least until the voters finally caught up with him.
Back to the app: I’m not sure what the DA really had in mind with this little gimmick, but experts generally agree that it’s best to keep The Man as far away from your cell phone as you can.