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.