Police Abuse

Reason TV: Outraged Fullerton citizens react to Kelly Thomas beating tape


The May 15 city council meeting in Fullerton, California was packed with outraged citizens ready to voice reactions to newly released security camera footage showing police brutally beating Kelly Thomas to death at a bus depot. Thomas was a 37-year-old schizophrenic drifter who died after a July, 2011 altercation with six police officers in which he was tasered, beat with batons, and hit repeatedly in the face.

Cpl. Jay Cicinelli will face charges of involuntary manslaughter and excessive force, while officer Manuel Ramos will face charges of involuntary manslaughter and second-degree murder. 

At the city council meeting, Ron Thomas, Kelly Thomas's father, called for the arrest and termination of another officer involved with the incident, officer Joe Wolfe, whom he says also murdered his son.

It was announced at the meeting that Kelly Thomas's mother would accept a settlement from the City of Fullerton totaling $1 million.

Written and produced by Paul Detrick.

Approximately 3:13 minutes.

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For more Reason coverage of the Kelly Thomas case, go here.


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  1. You tell ’em, blonde woman! TELL ‘EM!

    1. An angry citizen is a good citizen.

  2. It’s starting to sound like these assholes will be lucky if they don’t find themselves strung up on a tree outside the courthouse. Those people are pissed, and rightly so.

    1. Honestly, that is about what it is coming to. What else are you going to do? These people don’t care. No one ever loses their jobs. Only the most egregious and indefensible ever go to jail. And they pay the settlements with someone else’s money. What, short of burning down their homes and sending them and their families into a life of poverty and misery, is to deter these people?

      1. “What, short of burning down their homes and sending them and their families into a life of poverty and misery, is to deter these people?”

        Removing sovereign immunity and making the INDIVIDUAL police officer legally responsible for any judgements against him or her. Probibit any police department or police union from paying for the judgement – must me the INDIVIDUAL police officer.

        That would help.

        1. That would help a lot. But that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. My guess is we will see a few homes burned and a few angry mobs before that happens.

          1. My guess is we will see a few homes burned and a few angry mobs before that happens.

            Hey, whatever gets these guys to think twice before they let loose on someone just for shits and giggles.

        2. You can’t do that. Police are trained to act on instinct.
          If they were held personally responsible for their actions on the job, they might actually think before they act.
          That could result in them second guessing themselves, resulting in them getting killed.
          Remember that officer safety is paramount.

          So personal responsibility is not the answer.
          The answer is to review their training policy and make changes so this will not happen again.


          1. We can’t remind people that their overlords are human too, after all.

            1. If it bleeds we can kill it.

            2. We can’t remind people the overlords that their overlords they are human too, after all.


          2. “The answer is to review their training policy and make changes so this will not happen this particular way again.”


            1. “this particular way” = in view of any cameras

              1. Exactly. New training will involve scanning the area for cameras before beating someone to death.

                1. The recording of this murder was an egregious violation of Kelly Thomas’s right to privacy.

                  Obviously, the cops need to scan for cameras to protect privacy rights.

                  The most important lesson from this case is that recording police activity should be treated as a serious crime.

        3. Changing the laws is like writing the Bill of Rights; we all know how that worked out.

      2. The cops and their families don’t care about their victims. I don’t care about what happens to cops and their families.

        1. I care, I wanna watch them burn.

    2. Homer: You know, one day honest citizens are going to stand up to you crooked cops.
      Chief Wiggum: They are!? Oh no! Ha-have they set a date?

      1. Becoming a cop is *not* something that happens overnight. It takes one solid weekend of training to get that badge.

    3. I will pay to see it, and provide free beer and popcorn to anyone who shows up.

      1. provide free beer and popcorn

        You’ll still need a permit for that…

        1. Yes, and also money for the big barricade that I have to build around the beer drinking area, to protect the childins from crazed beer demons.

  3. Involuntary manslaughter? Involuntary manslaughter is what I would expect if thier car hit him through some action that was irresponsible but had no intent to harm another. Did they “accidentally” hit this person?

    1. He was engaged in the legal act of being a cop and beating the living shit out of someone because he felt like it. And he didn’t pay enough attention and went to far resulting in the man’s death.

    2. but had no intent to harm another

      are you implying these fine LEOs had an intent to harm him? Why, all that beating and tasering was their way of saying “Hey big guy, we care”

    3. I thought he was charged with both involuntary manslaughter and 2nd degree murder. IANAL, but I assumed that meant they would leave it up to the jury to decide which, if any, charges they would convict him of.

  4. **Light Dunphy Signal**

    1. Wait for the investigation.

      1. Continuum of force. Also, procedures.

        1. Also, fried chicken.

          1. I’m pleased to see the fried chicken meme is still being tossed out once in awhile : )

            1. i had to, because “Also, procedures” was threatening to replace it.

              1. “Also, procedures” was threatening to replace it

                We can all take comfort in knowing that “fried chicken” has maintained its primacy among Reason memes.

                1. I’m filing this under “Jim Morrison.”

    2. Oh, come on Groovus, you know Dunphy doesn’t show up on the bad cop threads here anymore.

      1. I hope I had something to do with that. I know that sounds like someone feeding their ego, but I really, really hope I helped run that enabling cocksucker off of these threads.

      2. Tonio, it’s my homage to P Brooks.

        Brooksie would do that to tweak Dunphy; I still miss P Brooks, his snarky commentary, and his Krugabes.

  5. “involuntary”? Bullshit. This was a particularly vicious murder, and the perps should be facing the death penalty.


    1. What part of “I’m going to fuck you up” doesn’t imply intent? I’m really baffled by the “involuntary” charge.

  6. It was announced at the meeting that Kelly Thomas’s mother would accept a settlement from the City of Fullerton totaling $1 million.

    It’s neither going to bring back Mr. Thomas nor punish the officers. That money will come from the taxpayers, not the officers, who should be paying. I don’t believe the taxpayers are culpable, but maybe this will wake them up.

    The charge should be murder. If the law allowed charging the other officers as accomplices after the fact, I would do so in a second and not think twice about it.

    Tonio is right: nothing will change until we hold these types, and the Top. Men. that hire them, accountable. Anything else is just internet Keyboard Kommanding.

    1. Nothing will deter them until they are personally on the hook. This is no different than the old segregationists. No one cared one wit about what the Supreme Court or the feds had to say until they made people instead of institutions personally liable under the civil rights laws.

    2. If the city made everyone pay a special tax to cover the settlement, the voters…would get upset at how high the settlement was and vote in some sort of caps to prevent having to pay that much again.

      It would not result in people demanding increased accountability from the police.

      1. Meh, not when the settlement only costs each taxpayer $.25 each. Perhaps if they sent a bill to each taxpayer each time the city was forced to pay any settlement, the pile of envelopes would get a bit irritating and would lead to some real oversight or questioning of policy.

        1. nah, i think people are accustomed to dealing with junk mail at this point.


          Also, fried chicken.

  7. “Hopefully the second act will involve local law enforcement regaining the trust of its citizens.”

    Why? Why would you want this? There’s no reason to trust police.

    1. I wouldn’t want the LEOs to magically regain the people’s trust, but having a legitimate reason to trust them would be nice. That might require more oversight than they’d be willing to go along with though.

    2. Yeah, I don’t get that. Even if every single police officer were the embodiment of Officer Friendly, they still shouldn’t be trusted. All authority needs to be questioned, all the time, regardless of how well they’re doing their job.

    3. Why? Why would you want this? There’s no reason to trust police.

      It’s boilerplate media state fellatio.

      Do you have any idea how hard reporters journalists would have to work without access to the powerful?

      1. Errr, yes, but we’re talking about reason here, which is why the comment was incongruous.

        1. Reason reporters are not lifers. Eventually they’ll move back into the larger media pool, from which they came, and so they have ingrained habits and the need to maintain career viability.

          1. “Eventually they’ll move back into the larger media pool”

            LUCY!!! LUUUUCY!!!

    4. Hopefully the second act would be for local law enforcement to be held ACCOUNTABLE to its citizens.

  8. Local LP chapters all over the country should be crusading for “Civilian Review Boards” to monitor and correct excessive police responses, review SWAT rules of engagement, and the like.
    Sure, it may not be popular with “lawnorder” types but it is the right thing to do to rein in police abuses.

    1. They should. And it does a couple of other things. First, it shames the lawandorder types who also claim to be small government types. And second, it shames liberals who claim to care about civil liberties but are in love with their local blue state city or country government.

        1. Any system is only as good as the people who make it up.

          1. Which is the motivation for fewer and less extensive systems of government.

            1. Don’t be silly, we just need to put the right people in charge.

              1. don’t force me to come over there and make you facepalm yourself Mo.

      1. Shame doesn’t work on cops and politicians for they have none.

    2. And those civilian review boards must have the power to bounce a perp off the payroll at their sole discretion. We know we can’t rely on city councils to take on police unions.


  9. And the lesson cops, DAs, and judges will learn from this is… ALWAYS erase the video evidence because the punishment for tampering with evidence is nothing compared to the punishment when the citizenry know the truth.

    1. This is why cellphone cameras and immediate-upload/encrypted recording apps are such wonderful pieces of technology.

    2. punishment for tampering with evidence

      What evidence?

      1. *taps nose-tip knowingly*

    3. “Lose” Raston, “Lose”. (we also would have accepted “misplace” or “delocate”)

    4. There’s speculation that Ramos attempted to turn off the recording device on his person before he engaged in the assault.

      1. [citation please] I hadn’t heard that before. I’m not surprised in the least, but I’d like to see more about it.

        1. Early in the tape his hand fiddles with his waist/abdomen and some friendly officers have speculated that is an attempt to shut the mike off.

          1. Thanks. After rewatching it, that sounds like a reasonable assumption.

  10. Thomas was a 37-year-old schizophrenic drifter who died after a July, 2011 altercationmurder with six police officers

  11. My prediction is there will be a change of police chiefs then a big announcement (with great fanfare) of a review that will drag out for months and then a few guys will be sent for “sensitivity” training (or some such) Then back to normal, nothin to see here, move along….

  12. I’m a grown man, but watching this video a few times and hearing him scream for his dad to help makes me think of my own son and it damn near brings me to tears. Just God awful.

    1. So have you sent it to everyone you know on social networks?

  13. He’s crying for help in a death voice. Would any of us have actually stopped to help? A few hardy souls might have and they would’ve likely been killed in a hail of bullets.

  14. At least this story is being as prominently reported in the MSM as the Trayvon Martin shooting.

    1. I think you mean the George Zimmerman beating.

  15. Too many cops; too many laws.

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  17. Where has Dumphry been lately anyway?

  18. Go to clerk of courts and file a lein against that officers bond. That will get their undies in a bunch

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