Thursday, July 28, 2011

3-1/2 Weeks Later, FPD Still Needs to Explain

Op-Ed By Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

Growing up in Fullerton, I have always had a tremendous respect for the men and women that serve on our Police force in the city. That respect grew even more as I went on ride-alongs as a kid. Or when the nice officers would visit Richman Elementary and speak to us kids about the dangers of drugs. Then later some of my friends joined first the Scout program and then became officers with FPD. My brother went through the Fullerton College Police Cadet program and became an officer with the Orange County Sheriffs Department. Then I came to realize first hand, from an adult perspective, what it is like to be an officer.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I think I understand the challenges and the pressures and the good work our officers and leaders on the FPD do in behalf of the city.

So this is why I am a little more than puzzled and alarmed by the developments of this horrible beating and ultimate death of Kelly Thomas on July 5.

This is, by all what I have heard so far, not the Fullerton Police Department I know and respect.

According to eyewitness accounts, Thomas, 37, was beaten and tasered by six FPD officers. According to Thomas' father, a career law enforcement and military man, his son's face was beaten into an almost unrecognizable condition by the officers. He said based on his experience as an officer, the FPD used unnecessary force and there were no drugs in his son's system. Kelly Thomas was unconscious after being beaten by the officers, according to witnesses, and put on life support. The Thomas family made the tough decision to pull life support on July 10.

According to one source, a video of the incident was taken by a local real estate agent and the police officers took the video for evidence. There is also a camera in the Transportation Center area which may have caught the incident on tape.

After nearly four weeks, we need answers. I would like the Chief of Police Michael Sellers and the DA's office to hold a press conference to make public comment and show the video and explain why six uniformed FPD officers that probably weigh a combined weight of around 1500 pounds with their equipment had the need to beat to death one 165 pound man with apparently no weapons on him while people around, reportedly, shouted to the officers to stop the unnecessary brutality. I am quite positive the video will show the reason why this was necessary and exonerate the officers and the Department. But the longer the silence from the FPD and the DA's office continues, it appears there may be a cover up.

What disciplinary action, if any, is being taken against the officers? And what training, if any, is being done with all officers to teach the proper method of interrogation and subduing a suspect going forward? We pay the Police Officers salaries. We have a right to know.

Please restore my faith in the FPD and do this now.

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