Last week, I wrote about the death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man who lived in Fullerton. Thomas was homeless, mentally ill and, as with many people in that state, had a minor police record. None of this, of course, was known by the officers responding to a call of someone breaking into cars at the Fullerton Transit Center.
Many have weighed in on Thomas' death. The rant blog (try posting something they don't like on it) The Friends For Fullerton's Future blog has practically dedicated itself to singlehandedly bringing down the Fullerton PD. Lots of allegations coming even from the John and Ken show, where, supposedly, an "insider" called into the show to offer the scoop on the video tape. Another entry reports that the Fullerton Chief and the primary DA investigator are friends (who isn't in the LEO community).
All of this , of course, is to allow the case to be tried in the court of public opinion even before it gets a proper review by the investigators and now, thanks to Shawn Nelson's intervention, the FBI. Curiously, there is not much in mainstream news about the case.
But, how does this help the family deal with their grief? Kelly Thomas' Father Ron, himself a retired deputy, called the beating brutal. Grainy video from over 50 feet away, commentated by someone else is shown on YouTube. It is obvious we don't see the entire situation from this clip. I doubt the video surveillance being held back by the police is going to show much else. Everyone seems to want answers now. They want the names of the officers involved as if they would go out and shoot the officers themselves for their misdeeds. The police department, which has had more than it's share of bad publicity lately, is being hung out to dry. The Chief has clammed up. The DA is investigating. The FBI is investigating. So, what should the people of Fullerton and the advocates for Thomas do now?
How about sit back and wait. Wait for the DA to complete their investigation. Wait for the FBI to do whatever they plan to do. By the way, the only information we have that the FBI will do anything is Shawn of the Dead Nelson claiming that the FBI confirmed they are launching an investigation. Now, that in itself means nothing. Has anyone seen FBI agents swarming Fullerton questioning witnesses? Have they seen black SUVs surrounding the police department? Of course not. And, don't expect them to. Investigation can mean a lot of things. And, in this case, I suspect it means they will review the investigations of both the FPD and the OCDA.
And, what about Ron Thomas? The other day, he claims the City has already offered him just short of a million to settle the case. That was quick. Too quick, if you ask me. And, rather than throw the offer aside, the dad is "considering" it. Now, of course, Fullerton has neither denied or admitted the offer. That is a lot of money that would have to go in front of the City Council to be approved (in closed session, of course). Has anyone looked at the Council agenda lately to see if the proposed litigation/settlement/offer has even appeared? Too much going on too fast and I suspect that much of it is too many entities- FFFF, Ron Thomas, Shawn of the Dead, et al -are running into each other.
Now, lest any of you think I am taking the side of the cops, remember this blog. I love to bash wrong-doing cops. But, there are enough legitimate bad guys in the ranks of LEO that I don't need to jump on a publicity bandwagon for the sake of skewering an entire department... at least until we get an investigation or two completed.
So, again, sit back and wait. We've got nothing but time.
And that is exactly what the citizens of Fullerton and the rest of Orange County should do.