3rd California police officer charged in beating death of homeless man (Sam Spital)

“CNN News today, September 28, 2012, reported a horrific crime in which a former Fullerton (Orange County community in Southern California) Police Officer was charged with Involuntary Manslaughter and Excessive Force in the savage beating death of a mentally ill homeless man, Kelly Thomas, in which it  was also noted he was wearing slippers and long pants, shirtless and carrying a backpack at the time police received a call of a “homeless man looking in car windows and pulling door handles of parked cars at the city’s bus depot.” Two other Fullerton Police officers were also similarly charged in this brutal crime being charged. It is noteworthy that a video of the incident depicted the homeless man crying out “help me” and “I can’t breathe” as he was violently beaten. The defense claim improper medical care after the hospital admission may have contributed to the death. One of the defendant’s attorneys claimed his client was standing upright during the time two of the other officers were bent over trying to arrest Thomas.

The City of Fullerton reportedly paid the mother of Thomas $1 million as part of a settlement. The father who was divorced has a separate wrongful death claim pending. No amount of money can replace one’s child whether an adult or not, nor compensate the premature loss of a loved one.

Regardless of what appears to be a senseless homicide, we should not second guess the officers and their conduct without knowing all of the facts. Moreover, the stress and pressures they face on a daily basis need to be mitigated by much more and continuous education and training to be more tolerant of deviant behavior, particularly when it is possible the alleged offender has a mental illness.”

Sam Spital, Criminal Defense Lawyer