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Fullerton police were too eager to use excessive force

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On the evening of July 5, a homeless Fullerton man was beaten by police and died several days later.

Fullerton police approached Kelly Thomas because he fit a description of a reported burglar in the area.
Police began beating Thomas after Thomas attempted to flee. In a viral video capturing the incident, Thomas is heard screaming for his dad as more and more officers join in on the beating. Many people witnessed the act, and one of them uploaded footage of the incident to youtube.

Locals described Thomas as a gentle man and were shocked that the police went to such extreme measures. However, Thomas was diagnosed with schizophrenia, which may have complicated the confrontation, making the police feel the need to use more force.

CSUN sociology professor and crime, law and deviancy expert Ellis Godard said the incident might not have been preventable if it was a psychological matter. When approaching a person, police take precautions to protect themselves from any potential threat.

It’s impossible for police to always assess each person, especially in an emergency situation in which police must act quickly to protect themselves and the public.

It seems impossible to completely eradicate excessive violence by police. There is no way of controlling someone from deciding to partake in a beating frenzy. But preventative measures can be taken in an effort to reduce police brutality.

Mandatory counseling sessions for every member of the police department would potentially release tension that a police officer may be bottling up inside. Although some members of the police department may be reluctant to divulge their personal feelings, full cooperation should be required if the person wishes to continue to work for the police department.

The counseling, although seemingly directed towards the members of the police department, is ultimately for the protection of the public. That is, after all, the purpose of the police force.

5 Comments

  1. Ellis godard Sep 16, 2011

    I’m not sure that’s quite what I said. I *did* say several dozen other things – but my emphasis certainly wasn’t about anything psychological; I’m a professor (and lifelong student) of sociology, not psychology.

    To the extent that I said anything about the victim that was individualistic, and anything about the incident’s preventability, I *did* suggest that there are circumstances which complicate officers following procedural escalation of force, including for example drug use. (Accounts of the Rodney King beating, for example, suggested PCP intoxication, which generates behavior which may be aggressive, unrelenting, and difficult to interpret. Alcohol and other drugs can produce similar patterns of behavior, and therefore similarly complicate the job officers undertake – though, again, my areas of specialization do not include intoxication. And I have no knowledge, nor reason to believe, that the victim in this case was under any form of intoxication.)

  2. Waite Fox Sep 14, 2011

    Sensitivity training for Fullerton cops?  I think they will all get in touch with their softer side when Bubba demands that they sit down to pee.

  3. Anonymous Sep 14, 2011

    This kind of journalism really blurs the line between fantasy and reality.  There was no complaint of a burglar.  Nothing.  These police monsters showed up out of nowhere, on cue, and assassinated this fellow following the occult protocol.  They annoyed him until he panicked, which didn’t take much, since he was handicapped, and when he became combative they summarily executed him under protection of law…the Patriot Act.  This execution involved the use of the gauntlet and electrocution, which take a hint folks, this could have been anyone.  They can do this to an infant under the Patriot Act.  Now go pretend you have an opinion about this incident.  You don’t understand, because you aren’t current on the law.  We are under marshal law.  The Patriot Act is being used to circumvent the Bill of Rights, and our constitution is meaningless in these circumstances.  You’ll figure it out eventually, maybe from within a FEMA concentration camp, er, ah..for your protection!

    1. Coastx:  You know as much about what happened as Rachel does:  Nothing. I’m pretty certain that the Fullerton cops weren’t thinking about the Patriot Act during this incident.  That’s one helluva rant however.

  4. Rachel:  Neither you nor I know much about how and why this incident occurred.  You’re touchy-feely solution to prevent future situations from occurring seems premature.

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