Kelly Thomas was murdered by 6 lowlife police officers last July (more here). As one would expect, they have not all been brought to justice. Only 2 officers have been charged. Manny Ramos has been charged with second degree murder, while Jay Cicinelli has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. This was only after the citizens of Fullerton protested outside the police station weekend after weekend. And of course, the fact Mr. Thomas’ father, Ron Thomas was former Sheriff’s Deputy didn’t hurt.
Keep in mind that if any other gang of 6 assholes had beaten a homeless, mentally ill man to death, they would have all been charged with murder, likely along with gang enhancements. If any other man had smashed a homeless man’s face in while saying, “You see these fists? … They are getting ready to fuck you up,” a first degree murder charge would have been a certainty.
I can also almost guarantee you that if my brother, father, or family member were murdered by police, I would not see an ounce of the justice Kelly Thomas’ family has seen, because I have no law enforcement in my family. If my father or brother had been beaten to a bloody pulp and died, I would have no credibility and would arouse no public sympathy. The public’s response would likely be, “well why did he disobey the officers?” as in the case of most victims of police murder.
This brings me to the irony of a former law enforcement officer being made to suffer the grief of having his son die at the hands of police. This is a man who, if he did his job all those years, presumably dedicated his life to, among other things, extorting people with tickets and fines. If he did his job, he spent a great deal of his time ruining peoples’ lives, causing them to lose their jobs, and breaking up their families through enforcement of drug laws. This is a man who spent his life supporting the Thin Blue Line and engaged in and supported abuse of ordinary people with a violent system that has now unfortunately come back to haunt him in the worst manner possible.
It seems that for many who previously worked in law enforcement, when tragedy strikes them (the hallowed class), it is written off as a recent development, a current trend in corruption, and a problem of badly trained young officers, whereas when they used to work in law enforcement, they did everything ethically, constitutionally, and properly. They rarely stop to consider that perhaps the system was just this bad all along, but they didn’t notice it before because they were the ones wielding power, commanding undeserved respect, and receiving the benefits and protections of the law.
Policing has always involved a monopoly on initiation of violence by a group of uniformed people who collected fines and enforced laws, whether just or not, under the guise of “protecting” others. It has been common knowledge for sometime now that forcible monopolies result in poor customer service and lack of accountability. Thus, when one group of people have an unqualified monopoly over guns, authority, and law enforcement, certain predictable results are bound to happen, and always have happened. Unjust detentions has always occurred. Racial profiling has always occurred. Marginalization and targeting of the poor and those with unfortunate skin tones has always occurred. Police have always enforced evil laws and opposed civil rights.
Qualified immunity for police officers is not a new concept that has developed only in recent years. Useless investigations by “Internal Affairs” is nothing new. Thus, the same system in which Ron Thomas proudly worked, and with which he proudly screwed civilians, is the same system he criticizes now. An interview with Ron Thomas reveals he is completely aware of the flaws in the system. Indeed, he explicitly criticizes the idea of “reasonable force” used by officers, and the manner in which this legal standard is manipulated and executed by law enforcement and the justice system.
So why does Ron Thomas have a problem with how the system deals with “reasonable force” now? His son was murdered essentially for “resisting” officers’ commands and violent subjugation. This happens to innocent people all the time. When the victims do not happen to be the son of a police officer, the public tells the victim’s family members that the victim should simply have followed commands, obeyed the law, or been more respectful in order to avoid being murdered.
One has to wonder whether Ron Thomas had a problem with it every other time a civilian’s family member was murdered in similarly senseless circumstances – for failing to hear an officer’s command, for giving an officer the finger, for defending themselves, or for being rowdy – and whether his perspective has changed in any manner since the death of his son. One has to wonder whether he, like most former police officers, still delusionally believes he was actually “protecting” people in the course of his former profession.