This police beating of Kelly Thomas is one of the most heartbreaking videos I’ve ever seen. Not just for Thomas, although quite obviously for Thomas. But also for the sheer depravity—the staring-you-in-the-face confirmation that your fellow human beings are capable of this sort of thing.
Of course, the point is also that these aren’t just any human beings. You can find violent videos at sites like World Star Hip Hop that are every bit as soul-crushing. But these are the people we entrust with the exclusive power to use coercive force—which we do in the interest of protecting the public. Days after the beating, one of these animals called into a radio show to boast about it. The night of the beating, one of them demanded treatment for a scrape on his elbow as Thomas lay dying a few feet away, looking like this.
Public officials closed ranks. A “special assistant to the DA” was brought on to defend the officers. The police department shut down the flow of information, then released misinformation (though another public official later found no fault with that). The city then tried to pay Thomas’ father $900,000 to go away.
Were it not for a citizen with a cell phone camera, the agitation of a local blog, and the determination of Thomas’ father, himself a former cop, we may never have known about Kelly Thomas. And these animals could well still be on the police force in Fullerton.
It’s difficult as hell, but you should still sit down to watch this video. Once you’re done, you can restore some optimism with this video from Reason.tv, which explains how technology and social media eventually shamed Fullerton officials into taking action.
(Via Carlos Miller, who has much more.)