The father of a 37-year old schizophrenic homeless man filed a civil suit against the city in which police officers brutally beat and killed his son.
According to the Huffington Post and any number of truncated videos that you can find online by googling “Kelly Thomas beating,” Thomas was involved in a violent confrontation with, ultimately, six police officers. A nearby security camera and an officer’s voice recording device captured Thomas being restrained, beaten, and shocked with a taser gun. According to a 37-page transcript of the confrontation, police arrived on the scene because Kelly was allegedly trying the handles of cars in a parking lot. When asked about this, Kelly said he doesn’t know what the officer was talking about.
Officer Ramos asked Thomas for his identification; Thomas said he lost it. Ramos then told Thomas he was taking him in for suspicion of burglary. For about the first 10 pages of the transcript, two officers and Thomas dickered back and forth over Thomas’ name. At one point, Thomas said he couldn’t remember it. For the next three pages, Ramos told Thomas to put his hands on his knees and to stretch his feet out in front of him. Thomas said he couldn’t do both. At page 13, Ramos struck Thomas with his baton.
As ABC News reported, anyone watching the video could hear Thomas apologizing and telling officers that he was unable to breathe. But police continued to punched him in the face. One officer kneed the left side of Thomas’ ribs. Thomas was also tazed three times and struck with two darts that were attached to the gun.
The beating lasted nearly ten minutes and Thomas died five days later. The coroner ruled his death a homicide.
“You have 1,500 pounds of trained cop[s] on my one little son, but they have to bring this out like they were just so overpowered by this brute to make themselves look innocent and that they’re the victims,” said Kelly Thomas’ father, Ron.
Though six officers were involved, two of them will be charged. One of the officers, who worked for the department for ten years, is charged with second degree murder and manslaughter and could face life in prison. The other officer, who worked for the department for 12 years, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force and could face up to four years in prison.
Thomas was a mentally ill homeless man who was found to have no evidence of any alcohol or drugs in his system. What are your thoughts? Does this show a lack of preparation from the police department to deal with the mentally ill? Do you think the situation should have been handled differently?