Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Police Brutality on the Rise

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Is there any wonder people are losing sympathy with police in America when there is so much video documentation showing the brutality with which they treat American citizens? It's nothing new as police brutality has been on the rise for years, but it seems to be getting even worse. Here's just one example.

Kelly Thomas killed by police
Kelly Thomas
On the night of July 5th, 2011, Fullerton, California police subdued and beat to death a homeless, mentally ill man, Kelly Thomas. Police had responded to a call that someone was trying to break into cars (the report was eventually discovered to be false) and when police arrived at the scene they stopped and questioned Thomas, a slightly-built, 31-year old schizophrenic man who was loitering in the area.

two policemen mugshots who killed Kelly Thomas
policemen charged with manslaughter
A surveillance video of the altercation, taken by a publicly-mounted camera and posted to youtube, shows that Thomas had never threatened the police and was being co-operative. The tape shows one policeman instigated the dispute with Kelly by prodding and verbally harassing him until Kelly reacts by trying to run away. A backup squad car was then called and six burly cops jumped on Kelly, threw him to the ground, hit him with their flashlights, kicked him in the head and stomach and then kneeled on him with such force that he finally stopped breathing. All during this altercation, Kelly can be heard begging and screaming for his father to help him until he is finally rendered unconscious. An ambulance was called, but it was only after the officers had been treated for their superficial wounds that Kelly was taken to the hospital.

Kelly Thomas lying in a hospital bed badly injured
Thomas in the hospital
At the hospital, Kelly slipped into a coma and died five days later. His father, a retired Orange County police officer, said that when he first saw his son he was unrecognizable because his face was so swollen and discoloured. Medical records show that almost every bone in his face was broken and he bled thorughout his body. The cops on this mission to protect American citizens and their property initially received involuntary administative leave until public outrage grew and charges were finally laid against the six reporting officers.

Rodney King video tape of him being beaten
Rodney King beating caught on tape
The argument can be made that this is just aberrant behavior by rogue cops,but more and more the brutality with which cops are arresting ordinary citizens is playing out on surveillance cameras across the country. No one has forgotten the 1992 Los Angeles riots that followed the Rodney King beating. Just recently, an epileptic man was beaten by cops after being mistaken for a drug abuser. Is action only going to be taken after more innocent victims are shot or beaten to death before being duly charged with any crime?