Friends and family held an impromptu service at a makeshift memorial for a homeless man who died after a scuffle with police. The original story can be found here.
Questions have been raised by the family and friends of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man, after he died from unknown causes on Sunday. Kelly was involved in a scuffle with police on Tuesday in which it took 5 officers to subdue him. Richard Thomas, Kelly's father and a former OCSD Deputy, believes it was the beating that killed the young man. Well, he should know. Supposedly Richard Thomas is a specialist in arrest and control techniques.
Kelly has been called a "free spirit" who lived homelessly by choice and like to "sleep under the stars". Family of homeless people are often in denial of the real reasons of homelessness which is often mental illness or drug use. They prefer fond memories so they use euphemisms such as these to make themselves feel better and take the blame off each other. In this light, the senior Thomas sounds more like a former sheriff deputy who knows how to get mileage started early in a lawsuit rather than an experienced law enforcement officer who would wait to see all the evidence before making a snap judgment.
Of course, Fullerton PD, who has seen it's fair share of bad press lately, denies any wrongdoing. Rightfully, they prefer to have the evidence weighed before making a decision. Early on, they turned the investigation over to DA's office.
What I can tell you from my experience is things are not always what they seem in a scuffle like this. Contrary to popular belief, cops are not experts in martial arts. They do not have time to spend half their day training like everyone thinks they do (unless you count time at the donut shop as training). They have real jobs that include protecting the citizens of their city, county or state (usually from each other). And sometimes, just sometimes, tasers don't work; pepper spray doesn't work; that neat new hold the instructor taught you in your semi-yearly refresher course on arrest tactics doesn't work. Then, it's a war. It is when 5 officers have to work to subdue one crazy subject who's family should have worked harder to keep him off the street rather than memorialize him at a makeshift funeral pyre. Come on back. We'll keep an eye on this one for you.