Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Plea for Restraint

Attorneys finished presenting their closing arguments in the Kelly Thomas murder trial this morning.  Manuel "Manny Man" Ramos and Jay Cicinelli are each charged in the beating death of the 135-pound homeless man in Fullerton.  Ramos is accused of murder and manslaughter.  Cicinelli is accused of manslaughter and using excessive force.

The fates of both defendants are now in the hands of the jury.  Deliberations are likely to take several days.

It's hard to believe that 2 1/2 years have elapsed since Kelly's death.  In that time, Kelly's Army has shaken the bases of power in Fullerton, California.  Sustained protests forced Fullerton's Chief of Police to resign, 3 city council members were recalled from office, a grand jury indicted 3 police officers for their roles in the beating, the public image of the FPD was irreparably tarnished as this scandal shed light on the culture of corruption within its ranks, and the District Attorney took the unprecedented action of filing murder charges against an on-duty cop.

As this story nears its culmination, I wanted to take a moment to urge Kelly's Army to exercise restraint, however the jury rules.  Of course, any rational human with a heart and half a brain is crossing his fingers for convictions.  Convictions are the only way to start the process of closure for the Thomas family and for all the citizens of Fullerton.  Guilty verdicts are going to be necessary first steps toward rebuilding our trust in the FPD, protecting our most vulnerable and ensuring that this type of official abuse never happens again.

If the jury votes to convict, I want to urge Kelly's Army to restrain their celebrations.  Guilty verdicts will be a fitting conclusion to this story.  They'll represent the justice that we've all been screaming for since the story broke.  But celebrations still don't feel appropriate.  Kelly is still gone and the damage is still done.  Please show respect for the Thomas family by curtailing inappropriate celebration if the jury votes to convict.

Similarly, if the jury votes to acquit, I want to urge Kelly's Army to direct their anger towards the ones who were responsible and not elsewhere.  Out-of-town instigators should stay home and smash their own windows.