I stumbled on a NBC article when researching the death of Kelly Thomas. At first it caught my eye because they were reporting that the FBI was getting involved in the investigation.
This is good news since we really can’t trust anything handled internally by the Fullerton Police Department at this point. FBI involvement could be key to getting at the truth in all of this.
But then I started reading:
The FBI is reviewing the scuffle between Fullerton police and a 37-year-old homeless man suspected of possessing stolen goods who later died, the bureau confirmed Friday.
The FBI is looking into whether Kelly Thomas’ civil rights were violated when Fullerton police struggled to arrest him earlier this month, Laura Eimiller of the FBI said.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is also reviewing the circumstances of Thomas’ death to see if any laws were violated. The FBI review will be a parallel investigation, Eimiller said.
Notice how the beating and multiple tasings are described as a ‘scuffle’. Notice also how NBC does its best to avoid linking said ‘scuffle’ to the death of Kelly Thomas. He simply ‘later died’ as though the two instances were almost entirely unrelated.
Take a look at the picture of Thomas after this little police ‘scuffle’. It’s right there in the NBC article. How anyone could call it anything but a beating (at the very least) is beyond me.
Fortunately the NBC report leaves us with this closing sentiment:
The officers found Thomas at the lot and because he matched the description of the suspect they started talking to him, Goodrich said. They found evidence that he was in possession of stolen property from a burglary, he said.
However, when they tried to pat him down to arrest him, Thomas spun away and started fighting with the officers, Goodrich said.
Yes, the homeless schizophrenic started fighting with six police officers, so they tased and beat him bloody and days later he died. But he was resisting arrest!
Good grief people, I realize this is reporting and you’re supposed to speak in a passive voice and everything, but show a little humanity. The scuffle left a man dead for goodness sakes.
There’s something seriously wrong with that, and maybe your reporting should at least reflect that a tiny bit. At least give us context.
Op-Ed by E.D. Kain
Mr. Kain writes for Forbes Magazine