Reason TV: How a Local Blog Broke the Kelly Thomas Story

The pretrial hearing for excessive force and murder charges filed against Officer Manuel Ramos and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli in the death of Kelly Thomas begins November 4, 2011. Thomas was a 37 year old schizophrenic drifter who was beaten to death by officers at a Fullerton, California, bus depot in July 2011 .

The charges came down after multiple headlines were made, not by local media, but by a local small-government blog in Fullerton called Friends for Fullerton’s Future . The blog was the first to publish a horrific picture of Thomas in the hospital and a chilling video of the incident captured by a cell phone video camera.

“The picture was so horrific that the local news channels wouldn’t show it and a lot of times they don’t think there is much of a story there because they get the police version of the story,” says Travis Kiger, a blogger at Friends for Fullerton’s Future.

Kiger and Chris Thompson, also a blogger, sat down with Reason TV to talk about how the blog broke the story and what they think contributed to the international media attention.

Topics include: The lack of public information in the city of Fullerton; the decline of local media; reaction to charges filed by district attorney Tony Rackauckas; and how citizens can keep government accountable in their own cities.

Approximately 8:05 minutes.

Interview by Paul Detrick. Shot by Sharif Matar and Tracy Oppenheimer. Edited by Detrick

Related:

Cops Vs. Cameras: The Killing of Kelly Thomas & The Power of New Media

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  • ||

    [L]ocal news channels wouldn’t show it and a lot of times they don’t think there is much of a story there because they get the police version of the story.

    Or maybe they didn't want to be first to break the story. Since the traditional media depends on the goodwill of government they don't want to bite the hand that feeds them. So they sat on the story and let the "fringe" media cover it until it got legs and they couldn't plausibly ignore it.

  • Kelly Thomas Died for your Sin||

    For the love of money [POLIS' property values] is the root of all evil [POLICe brutality.]

  • ...||

    Yeah, greed is sometimes bad, as tribal chieftans have been proving since before civilization.

    What were you whinging about again?

  • Chiefdoms were proto-states...||

    Chiefdoms are proto-states (beginnings of hierarchy and class structure), involved in domestication and agriculture, and have more violence.

    There are 4 main sociopolitical typologies:

    NON STATE SOCIETIES
    Egalitarian Band
    Egalitarian Tribe
    Hierarchical Chiefdom (proto-state)
    STATE SOCIETY
    Agricultural City-State (civilization)

    Humans have lived 99% of time on this earth as egalitarian bands and tribes, and only a short time in chiefdoms and states.

    Take another swing if you like.

  • Editor||

    For the love of money [POLIS' property values] is the root of all evil [POLICe brutality.]

    This doesn't even make any sense, police were quite brutal in places where there was no value to property, because there was no private property allowed.

  • POLICe serve and protect POLIS||

    Editor, can you provide an example of the existence of POLICe outside of the agricultural city-state (POLIS)?

    kthnks

  • Then why your refusal||

    to support DeFunding the State?

  • ...||

    "DeFunding the State?"

    What does "the State", an entity incapable of greed, or "love of money", have to do with anything?

    Those are human traits, the State didn't create them and they won't vanish if were gone.

  • POLIC POLIS PUBIS||

    .

  • ...||

    "DeFunding the State?"

    What does "the State", an entity incapable of greed, or "love of money", have to do with anything?

    Those are human traits, the State didn't create them and they won't vanish if were gone.

  • Are you an IRS agent?||

  • ...||

    "DeFunding the State?"

    What does "the State", an entity incapable of greed, or "love of money", have to do with anything?

    Those are human traits, the State didn't create them and they won't vanish if were gone.

  • Who said the state had those..||

    ...sort of personality traits, except you, dimwit?

  • White Indian||

    Defund the State.

  • Warty||

    who was beaten to death by officers

    Thank you. The "beaten into a coma" shit was driving me nuts.

  • Fullerton's Libertarian Cops||

    Fullerton cops were just protecting property values from plummeting with bums on the streets. And then you dare bitch about their protecting property values.

    Rothbard knew the score on what it takes:

    Cops must be unleashed, and allowed to administer instant punishment ... unleash the cops to clear the streets of bums and vagrants. Where will they go? Who cares?

    ~Murray Rothbard

  • Editor||

    "Fullerton cops were just protecting property values from plummeting with bums on the streets...Cops must be unleashed, and allowed to administer instant punishment ... unleash the cops to clear the streets of bums and vagrants. Where will they go?"

    Your own post contradicts itself, had the officers been "protecting property values from plummeting with bums on the streets" in the manner you admit Rothbard suggest in your quote, then the cops would have seen him out of town.

    Nowhere in your quote does Rothbard suggest beating anyone to death, so either you're too stupid to actually understand what you're cribbing, or you're conflating intentionally.

    So, you're either wrong about the cops or Rothbard. Huge surprise, any second now will come the off topic reply/insult that your profound mental illness compels you to post anytime someone points out that you made a fool of yourself.

  • Stanford Prison Experiment||

    The Stanford Prison Experiment proves that explicit permission for things to violence to escalate isn't necessary for violence to get completely out of control.

    It's why the experiment ended way early.

    To bad the experiment didn't end early enough on Kelly Thomas.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Friends for Fullerton's Future is definitely over the top at times, but I think every city needs something like that to challenge their public offices. Too many local established journalists are too cozy with the officials they think they rely on for information.

  • ||

    What's this? A district attorney that actually shows some integrity?

  • Paul||

    He can purposefully mishandle the case forcing an acquittal. It ain't over until these cops are in jail.

  • ||

    ^This.

  • ||

    he could also flap his arms and fly to the moon. i know the (false) reason meme is that whenever cops are found not guilty or hung jury, it MUST be the prosecution threw the case on purpose.

    reasonoids are like truthers when it comes to pro-cop conspiracies

    however, in cases like the paul schene case (who i believe is guilty as fuck but was tried twice and hung jury both times), the reality is that juries DO generally give cops more credibility than the average joe, ARE less likely to convict a cop based on a similar fact pattern as an average joe, etc.

    the juries are the ultimate finders of fact, in a jury trial, and cops benefit from the fact that, as a class, cops are given a lot of credit by juries.

  • ...||

    "reasonoids are like truthers when it comes to pro-cop conspiracies"

    OOOOH NAME CALLING FROM A COP!!!! Who would have expected.

    Interestingly, you don't call out cops for the "a few bad apples" crap you guys constantly splatter everywhere.

    Meanwhile you still haven't explained why you don't arrest other cops when you witness them breaking the law, which you openly admitted you do not do.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Speaking of police actions caught on video...

    What's better than putting LEO misdeeds on youtube for all to see? Surprising them in court with the video they didn't know existed.

  • Metazoan||

    That is perjury right?

  • Paul||

    Among other things, yes.

  • Metazoan||

    Yeah, I'm curious to see if he'll get charged. He should, since it's so obvious, but I have doubts.

  • WTF||

    That's what Officer Steven Lupo put in his report and testified to in Philadelphia Municipal Court.

    Then defense attorney Michael Diamondstein produced the video.

    Turned out reality was different.

    It's just a few bad apples, hardly ever happens, you only heard about it because it's unusual, ...I miss any?

  • ||

    But nothing else happened, right?

    Including the perjury prosecution.

  • WTF||

    Yeah, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the perjury charges. At most they'll do an 'investigation' and drag it out until the stink blows over and then quietly drop the whole thing.

  • ||

    ah yes. the prosecution never charges cops with perjury canard.

  • ...||

    " the prosecution never charges cops with perjury canard."

    Refute it instead of crying about it.

    Don't bother you can't, you'll post a few useless examples of the rare instance that perjuring cop HAS been prosecuted, then I'll post a dozen examples where they signed off on a police report that was demonstrably false, and you'll make excuses/refuse to respond.

    Isn't that how it always goes with you?

  • ||

    i could give a million examples of non-cops ALSO not getting charged with perjury, too.

    heck, clinton comes to mind (he was only charged contempt of court, and if lying about sexual relations with an intern, under oath at a SEX HARASSMENT suit isn't a "material misstatement" nothing is)

    i can give numerous examples just from personal experience of DV "victims" not getting charged with perjury for instance even after they recant and/or were proven to have lied, etc.

    again, you are making the extraordinary claim, not me. the burden is on you to prove it

    hth

  • ||

    IANAL, but I believe that attorneys for both sides have to disclose to each other ahead of time any evidence to be introduced in court.

  • WTF||

    I would have thought so too under discovery rules, but apparently:
    Under state rules of evidence, Diamondstein did not have to provide the video to police or prosecutors in advance of the hearing.

    Maybe because it was a hearing and not the actual trial?

  • Apatheist||

    I'm betting that the discovery rules for evidence used to rebut a claim or exposing perjury are different than other evidence. I'm sure a lawyer in Penn, could answer.

  • ||

    generally true

    for example, a confession obtained in violation of miranda cannot be used as DIRECT evidence against a suspect

    it can be used to impeach testimony, for example

    so, if he got up and claimed he didn't do it, THEN the confession could be used even though it was obtained in a way that would make its presentation as direct evidence unlawful under the exclusionary rule

    etc.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    The cops will just lie about the circumstances of the confession, and the judge won't have the spine to discard it, hoping the defendant will just plead out.

  • ||

    right. this is why even after miranda, this made no practical difference

    see, cops never read miranda to anybody. they just lie about.

    or you could look at any # of hundreds of examples of cases where confessions are thrown out because of no miranda and/or upheld because it wasn't viewed as "custodial interrogation" etc. which all refutes your claim

    you can't have it both ways.

  • Gray Ghost||

    NAL either, but from this reference, the defense in a criminal case needs to disclose notice of intent to use an alibi defense or an insanity defense. Guessing that a criminal defense lawyer is not required to disclose anything else. The prosecution, OTOH, has the "Brady Rule" to comply with.

    I don't know in civil litigation whether one side would have to disclose evidence like the video tape, absent the other side asking for it in discovery.

    Hell of a way to impeach a witness though. I too, await with bated breath, the perjury indictment that will no doubt follow.

  • ||

    generally speaking, this is correct.

    there are rare and limited circ's where defense is required to notify the prosecution of stuff, and especially not if its INCULPATORY whereas the prosecution is (theoretically) always required to give notice of EXCULPATORY stuff (as they should)

    example: suppose a defense investigator uncovers a witness that makes his client look guilty as fuck.

    does the defense have to disclose that witness to the prosecution ?

    no

    generally speaking, though the prosecution would (and of course if it was INculpatory)

    the defense is (technically) prohibited from presenting testimony it KNOWS to be perjurious. iow, if it has evidence of their clients guilt, it cannot knowingly present testimony/argument that contradicts that (however, i have seen the defense do this. technically, it's suborning perjury, but i digresss...)

    however, as long as it doesn't promote perjurious testimony, it is free not to notify the prosecutor that there is evidence out there that shows their client to be guilty as fuck

  • ||

    Um, sorry , Perry Mason, but I think that might be a violation of Discovery Protocol ...

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Not in the Great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    This is by far the most common form of misconduct- ignoring due process in the investigation, the affidavits, and on the stand. They probably don't even notice themselves doing it, most of the time. "Just going by policy."

    Its not fucking rare, Dunphy.

  • Mainstream Media||

    Remember everyone, never trust the internets. I mean seriously, these people don't have journalism degrees! Regular plebes can't report the news! How could they ever tell you what to think without a college diploma? It's anarchy!

  • ||

    “The picture was so horrific that the local news channels wouldn’t show it and a lot of times they don’t think there is much of a story there because they get the police version of the story,” says Travis Kiger, a blogger at Friends for Fullerton’s Future

    Remember this the next time some journo is whining about the need for a government bailout because of all the indespensible work journos do.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    They're already getting a kind of bailout in the form of the government writing their copy for them.

  • WTF||

    I think J-school actually teaches that
    news article = government press release.

  • ||

    actually, as numerous articles and editorials have pointed out, especially ex-post watergate, like it or not, the idea of "advocacy journalism" really took a hold at that point

    iow, the job of the reporter wasn't so much to accurately report X as it was to promote a metanarrative through HOW he reports X.

  • ||

    I follow (like check once a week) the half dozen local blogs. From the writing styles, I'd probably punch most of them if I had to spend more than an hour with them. But on the plus side, one guy goes and sits in planning meetings and knows when and what is being buildt or torn down. Another guy seems to go to every new bar, restuarant or bodega selling fried food and reviews them. The local rag doesn't do half that and the regional rag doesn't do a hundredth.

    Jackasses or not, I appreciate their efforts and tip them a little.

  • Mike M.||

    I still think that the biggest reason why the Kelly Thomas incident got almost no traction in the national media is because he was just a white guy.

    But kudos to both Friends for Fullerton’s Future and Reason for bringing some attention to this awful story.

  • WTF||

    I don't know, the media in general are pretty deferential to cops in general. The ex-NFL player getting shot by the cops coming out of a liquor store didn't get any traction either, and he was a black guy and an ex-NFL guy.

  • ||

    It is amazing how derential they have become. Would the media be all over the Rodney King case like they were if it happened today? I think probably wouldn't. And the person who shot the film would have been arrested for wiretapping.

    Someone said on here a while back "this isn't your father's liberal media". And it is really true. The media has always, at least in my life time been totally liberal. But it seems like they used to at least have some of the good parts of old time liberalism. They didn't trust cops and they didn't trust the government. Now they have lost that and are flat out authoritarian.

  • WTF||

    Now they have lost that and are flat out authoritarian.

    Yup, they rarely seem to really question authority anymore.

  • AZ||

    I don't know if it's a pro-authoritarian strain to their actual thinking as much as it's laziness and protecting their continued access to the source that they'll just copy/paste for the story anyways.

  • It's a pro-Libertarian strain||

    If you can tell much difference.

    Google Rothbard+Unleash+Cops. Or just look at the second comment above.

    The city-STATE has to be aggressive to protect property values.

  • ...||

    Rothbard's suggestion was to relocate them, which has nothing to do with violence.

    How stupid are you?

  • Pallid Aboriginal||

    How stupid are you?

    You have to ask? DERP!

  • administer instant punishment||

    "...administer instant punishment..." is what Rothbard wrote.

    How duplicitous are you to miss that?

  • Mike M.||

    I think you're right that there has been a significant shift in that direction, even in the liberal media.

    Maybe 20 years of "Cops" on television has numbed everyone's minds.

  • ||

    or maybe 20 yrs of Cops has given people a more ACCURATE understanding of how police work is USUALLY done.

    prior to that, most people's knowledge of how stuff actually happens in the real world of policing came from teevee dramas, movies, books, etc.

    i think the show Cops has done a great service in humanizing the average patrol officer, giving people insight also into how colossally stupid and reckless some criminals are, people get to see the victims of crime at the time of the offense and realize how impactful some stuff can be, get to see the suspects "in the act" vs. dressed up all pretty in court, etc.

    Cops has done a great service to the public and to law enforcement. it has also forced law enforcement itself to change from the better based on some of the stuff we have seen on the big screen.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "or maybe 20 yrs of Cops has given people a more ACCURATE understanding of how police work is USUALLY done."

    Now you can shut the fuck up. I've see some disgusting shit done by the pigs on cops. Every episode I've seen. Even the condescending attitude in the way they deal with people sickens me. Just because it "fits policy", or the courts use some complications to deem it constitutional, doesn't mean its right.

  • ||

    thank you. that's exactly my point

    which you just proved.

    so, cops DOES portray (relatively) accurately this stuff. you just admitted they show you stuff that cops do that disgusts you.

    that's pretty strong proof it DOES have accuracy.

    you may not like what you see, because what you see IS REAL

    thank you for demonstrating my point

    cops certainly has changed SOME people's minds about cops for the WORSE.

    and some for the better

    yet, they are seeing the same thing

    this says more about how they view the role of cops in our society. that's a GOOD thing

    see: sunlight/disinfectant

    hth

  • ...||

    "or maybe 20 yrs of Cops has given people a more ACCURATE understanding of how police work is USUALLY done."

    Nope.

  • Statist Dunphy is Statist||

  • nigmalg||

    Cops is in no way an accurate representation of police activities.

    How about you film every on-duty police officer in the nation, and randomly select a few for the show? Now that would be an accurate sampling.

  • ||

    It would be very boring. Cops has to film scores of hours together one show. First of all, people MUST sign releases or their stories don't air. Some arrestees. Etc. don't. I had a sweet episode where a guy threw a butcher knife at my partner. Guy wouldn't sign a release. And a lot of the stuff is mundane. As I have shown with endless stats, uses of force, etc. are relatively rare.

  • ||

    ah yawn... the deferential to cops canard in the media again. only in the funhouse mirror world of reason.com could such absurdity be accepted at face value.

  • ||

    A Canadian dude was telling me that in America the cops only beat blacks. I told him about the Kelly case, but he refused to believe it because he never saw it on mainstream television.

  • ||

    and yet, the statistics show that when correlated with NCVS stats (iow the race of the suspect AS ACCORDING TO THE VICTIM), cops are NOT more likely to "beat" blacks than whites.

    stats have consistently shown (heather mcdonald at city journal has done a lot of good work documenting them)

    that the rate at which police stop, frisk, arrest, and are accused of excessive force in regards to race (and gender and age) are roughly equivalent to the rate at which those groups are likely to have been identified as the suspects by ACTUAL victims of crime

    groups that disproportionately commit crime, especially violent crime, disproportionately receive attention from police, and that includes excessive force, etc.

    that , statistically speaking, shows no bias whatsoever.

    for example, if cops were racist (towards whites) one would expect to see more uses of force, excessive force, etc. towards japanese americans, as a %age of population vs. whites.

    but you don't. because japanese americans commit a much lower rate of crimes than whites.

    the same applies to issues of both age and gender

  • ...||

    "and yet, the statistics show that when correlated with NCVS stats (iow the race of the suspect AS ACCORDING TO THE VICTIM), cops are NOT more likely to "beat" blacks than whites."

    Present your sources, I'm calling bullshit.

  • Roger on the Bullshit||

    +1

  • ||

    heather mcdonald "are cops racist" city journal

    start with the NCVS stats also available from DOJ

    cops do NOT disproportionately stop people of a given race (or gender) AS RELATED to their identification by NCVS people

    that's about as strong a proof as you can get that cops stop (frisk, arrest, etc.) people roughly equivalently to their crime rates AS IDENTIFIED BY CRIME victims

    again, heather mcdonald. city journal. or her books.

    for example, she brings up the fact that when later studies were done after the new jersey "profiling" incidents, that the cops were vindicated

    of COURSE cops stop people at rates disproportionate to their representation in society.

    if the rates WERE proportionate, that would be strong evidence of racism (and sexism and ageism) since those different groups commit crimes at vastly different rates

  • ||

    here's an hour long c-span event that heather spoke at...

    i strongly recommend her book

    and that you check NCVS at DOJ...

    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/165981-1

  • ||

  • ||

  • ||

  • ||

    http://www.city-journal.org/html/13_2_sndgs03.html

    http://www.city-journal.org/ht.....iling.html

    (check out the embedded links in this above one. LOTS of good stuff)

    and OF COURSE, crosscheck her claims with NCVS data. i have yet to find ANY errors.

    feel free

  • ||

    A Canadian dude was telling me that in America the cops only beat blacks.

    Ridiculous. They also beat Mexicans.

  • ||

    That is not true. They just beat those born between January and December.

  • and Canadians too||

  • WTF||

    Well, he doesn't really dispute that he did in fact assault the officer's fists with his face. And I'm sure they said "STOP RESISTING!"

  • Gray Ghost||

    He's had a challenging last few years. You can search elsewhere on his blog for pictures of the leg wound; I'm not going to link to them.

    OTOH, it looks like he got married recently, and I love his take off on "The Thing."

  • ||

    pajamas bloggers strike AGAIN!!!

    take THAT, dan "fake but accurate" rather!

    there has never been greater access to free speech, citizen redress of govt. grievances and "free" exchange of ideas than in our current era.

    laments aside about all the things wrong with america and the world, this is a very positive thing - the intert00bs. liberals use the word "empower" all the time. thus, i hate it. but it's true - the internet has done a lot to empower "ordinary joes" with the kind of power once essentially reserved to the elites of the mainstream media.

    whatever you think of kos, drudge, etc. they showed that an ordinary guy can develop a following and become a media force based on market forces much more easily than when there was only cable teevee for news and even before that, just the 3 networks.

  • The Great Remembering||

    The intertubal has aided in White Indian's Great Remembering.

    The Great Remembering as this generation’s response to The Great Forgetting. He comments that, because we have already experienced a collapse of culture, our society is ready to abandon our totalitarian agriculture and industrial trends.

    The Great Remembering
    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/The_Story_of_B#The_Great_Remembering

  • ...||

    "The intertubal has aided in White Indian's Great Remembering."

    So you admit your life would be impossible without technology and civilization.

  • No. LOL||

  • ||

    Spokane officer convicted of excessive force in death of mentally ill man

    A federal court jury today convicted a Spokane police officer of using excessive force on a mentally ill man who died in 2006 after being struck and Tasered at a convenience store. Officer Karl Thompson was accused of brutally beating Otto Zehm, a 36-year-old schizophrenic man, and then lying about it to investigators. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Local libertarians reacted by stuffing their fingers into their ears and chanting, "La-la-la-la-la!"

    http://www.oregonlive.com/paci....._of_e.html

  • White Indian Reason Manifesto||

    • I'm consistently pro-freedom, anti-regulation, pro-legitimate property, anti-State.

    • I bring incontrovertible evidence from anthropology and archeology that the workings of the State are an inseparable part of the agricultural-city-State. The only people upset are those city-Statists who must cling to their dear dogmas by avoiding reality.

    • If you think I'm repetitive, I only bring up the agricultural-city-State when somebody is pissing and moaning about the State. Complaining about the State, but loving the city-State (civilization) is like complaining about noise, but loving jets.

    • Don't respond to me if you can't grasp the simple truth that civilization is the aggressor. It's like I'm at a Boeing company picnic, and people are complaining about the noise ruining the picnic, and when I mention the noise is an integral part of the jets flying above, they go apeshit on me.

    • I change my name, not to cause confusing, because other people steal it and deliberately spread disinformation under my name, thus I was given a private incentive by libertarians to use the "name" as a "header."

    • I'm all for registration too. Libertarians here act like a bunch of fundamentalist when I've pointed out to them that the Hebrew priestcraft plagiarized Ugaritic clay tablets written 600+ years before the Torah. Lots of emotion and froth, not much Reason. Seems libertarians are willing to shit up their own comment sections, and then try to falsely blame the bringer of the truth.

  • ||

    I had been butchered. You were raped by the City of Fullerton and the you were raped by Orange County. You can’t rewind a watch or rewrite history. You just have to go forward and that’s what we’re trying to do in Fullerton.
    Fullerton and Orange County are yours. It your world and it is what you make of it.
    Vote your heart out and time to get rid of the toxic cancers in Fullerton City Hall and Police Departments.

  • العراق||

    thanks

  • ارض تجاريه||

    thank you a lotsssssssssssssssssss

  • Mulberry Bayswater Bag||

    The very root of your writing whilst sounding reasonable in the beginning, did not really settle perfectly with me after some time. Somewhere throughout the paragraphs you actually managed to make me a believer unfortunately only for a very short while. I still have a problem with your jumps in logic and you would do well to fill in all those gaps. In the event that you can accomplish that, I could certainly end up being fascinated.

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