A pair of police officers in Fullerton, Calif., find themselves in the middle of a controversy after a videotape played during a preliminary hearing yesterday (May 7), showing the men beating a mentally ill homeless man to death. In yet another disappointing abuse of power from authorities sworn to protect citizens, the case is starting to gather momentum as the FBI moves in to investigate if the homeless man’s civil rights were violated, reports CNN.
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Manuel Ramos, a 10-year veteran of the Fullerton force, and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli currently face charges of involuntary manslaughter and felony use of excessive force. Although both men have pleaded not guilty in the death of Kelly Thomas (pictured top), the video evidence is both chilling and damning (WARNING: graphic and potentially disturbing images are present in the video.)
The officers are seen on the clip striking Thomas (pictured below after the beating), after warning him to get on the ground. As the officers begin to pummel Thomas with crushing blows, another portion of the clip shows Thomas clearly at the mercy of the officers as others begin to pile on top of him as he pleads for mercy. “OK, I’m sorry, dude. I’m sorry!” Thomas yells out as the cops swarm atop, calling for help from his father.
The city’s coroner has ruled Thomas’ death a homicide, saying the man died as a result of his chest being compressed; he was suffocated. Four other officers are also implicated in the death of Thomas, with the case placing an uncomfortable focus on the practices of the Fullerton police department.
Furthermore, when is a real discussion going to start to address the gross abuse of power of many police officers across the country. It would appear that after these types of incidents begin to happen, there would be an attempt to ensure that protections would be in place for the general public against rogue cops.
But that is yet to happen.
If nothing else, dire consequences should be the order of the day, when officers display both bad and life-threatening behavior. Instead, whether it be the Sean Bell or Amadou Diallou or Oscar Grant — cops get free passes for ending the lives of unarmed citizens.
This is the biggest tragedy of all.