Dear Dirty America


In Fullerton, CA Police Treat Homeless People like Piñatas

August 03
20:21 2011
Andrew Ciscel

“Policing the streets ain’t easy,” says my cop friend Gunter. Gunter the Cop works for a major Southern California police force, and he knows the stress that accompanies the job of being an officer. “Policing the streets in a large city in California, like Fullerton, for example, is even more tougher.”

Six Fullerton police officers are ‘under fire’ for beating to death a homeless man named Kelly Thomas. The LA Times reports:

An attorney for the six Fullerton officers placed on leave as authorities investigate the death of a homeless man during a confrontation last month defended the actions of the police.
Michael D. Schwartz said Kelly Thomas was combative with officers. And contrary to the statements of at least one witness, the officers did not use a flashlight as a weapon, he said.
Schwartz also said there was “no excessive use” by the officer of a Taser on Thomas — rebuffing claims made by several witnesses….
The six officers fought with Thomas and used a Taser on him several times, leaving him bloody, beaten and in a coma. Thomas died five days later after being removed from life support. Photos of Thomas at a hospital show his face grotesquely swollen.

 “It’s very necessary,” Gunter tells me, “for police officers to blow off some steam sometimes. Would you rather they did it to a rich business man? I didn’t think so. The homeless are always troubling anyway because they’re a gawdam eye sore. So sometimes a few officers will use one of them, provoke one of them homelesses to anger and then beat the living shit out of it like a human piñata. A homeless piñata.” Gunter breathes heavily into the phone. “Except there isn’t no candy inside.”

He had schizophrenia! I shouted at Gunter the Cop. Thomas Kelly had schizophrenia! I heard a beep, then Gunter’s scratchy voice came back, “Then he was a human schizophrenic piñata. That don’t change anything.”

Again, from the LA Times:

Concerns about the incident have been heightened by two videos on which witnesses reacted to the police action. In one video taken by a bystander, Thomas can be heard screaming “Dad! Dad! Dad!” over the clicking sounds of the Taser.
“They’ve Tased him five times already,” a woman can be heard saying on the video. “That’s enough!”

“They’re freaking ruthless,” another man says, adding moments later: “I don’t know why they don’t just put cuffs on him and call it a night, instead of hitting him.”

Officials said there are other videos that have not been released, including some that might more directly capture what the officers did. Some Fullerton council members are demanding that those videos be released to the public, but the district attorney’s office has declined, citing fears of tainting potential witness testimony.

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