Kelly Thomas died as a result of being beaten, tasered, and suffocated by a thugswarm of police on the July 5, 2011. A jury in Orange County, California — an authoritarian conservative community in which the “Support Your Local Police” movement took root and flourished in the mid-1960s — has acquitted the two ringleaders of that police gang, Manuel Ramos and Jay Cincinelli, of all charges arising from that atrocity.
Manuel Ramos, who harassed, taunted, and terrorized Thomas for nearly a half-hour before the beating began, was charged with second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, and faced up to 15 years in prison. Cincinelli, charged with criminal assault, confronted a four-year prison term. Both were fired from the Fullerton Police Department following a public outcry.
“You see these fists?” Ramos grunted at Kelly, a mentally ill homeless man who was sitting peacefully on the curb. “They’re about to f**k you up.” Such language comes easily to Ramos, who in both his private and professional lives is an enthusiast of gang culture. Thomas had done nothing to warrant attention on the part of the police, let alone a violent arrest. He was beaten with fists, batons, and the butt end of a taser; at various times during the assault, all six police officers — nearly three-quarters of a ton of privileged, tax-fattened, costumed suet — piled on top of the 160-pound man, crushing his chest and causing terminal asphyxia. Thomas died crying out for this father, retired Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Thomas.
The Department had initially claimed that neither Ramos nor Cincinelli, nor the six other officers who joined in the orgy of officially sanctioned violence, had violated department policy. During the trial, Corporal Stephen Rubio, a training officer at the at the Fullerton PD, insisted that the actions of the officers — including the sadistic threat by Ramos — were compatible with department policy. Defense “expert” witness Stephen Karch, a paid shill who flogs spurious medical theories on behalf of abusive cops, testified that the police beating didn’t kill Thomas, but rather that the mentally troubled man simply chose that time to die from an undiagnosed heart condition.
John Barnett, the police union attorney who represented the killer cops, insisted that the beating was an appropriate response to Thomas’s pathetic, doomed struggle to save his life. In his closing argument, Orange County DA Tony Rakauckus emphasized that Thomas had the right to resist an unlawful arrest, and to defend himself against the criminal violence initiated by Ramos and Cincincelli.
The jury validated the argument that the act of resisting such criminal violence is a capital offense worthy of summary execution. Apart from the transparent sophistries offered by Dr. Karch, and the inventive restructuring of the crime by Barnett — who invited the jury to pretend that the unarmed, terrified Thomas posed a threat to a half-dozen armed police officers — the defense had no case. The only way a guilty verdict could be avoided was if the jury, which was drawn from a population deeply tainted (yes, that is the proper word) with Law & Order conservatism, would accept the premise that police have an unqualified license to kill anybody upon whom they focus their malign attention.
Rather than upholding the law, the jury supported “law enforcement” — thereby fulfilling what the Support Your Local Police Committee describes as a moral obligation of citizens:
“The local police are not your enemy. Your committee is not here to attack them, blame them for violating the Constitution or your civil liberties…. We urge all responsible citizens in this community to…[s]upport our local police in the performance of their duties [and] oppose all harassment or interference with law enforcement personnel as they carry out their assigned tasks…. [We must accept] our responsibilities to our local police, to defend them against unjust attacks, make them proud and secure in their vital profession, and to offer them our support in word and deed wherever possible.”