[UPDATED with First-Hand Insight From Villagra:] OC District Attorney "Incapable" of Impartial Probe into Kelly Thomas's Police-Beating Death: ACLU
UPDATE, AUG. 5, 4:26 P.M.: Update written by Marisa Gerber.
The first sentence may be in reference to a probe of Los Angeles County's DA, although I could not find a link to such a piece in LA Weekly's archives. If both sentences refer to the Orange County DA, I found no such story on LA Weekly's site.
However, I did find inOC Weekly
's archives "Shoot First, Ask No Questions Later
," my colleagueNick Schou
's 2006 investigation into the OCDA's handling of the McDonald case and other officer-involved incidents.
The ACLU has been contacted for clarification.
The Weekly's previous coverage of Kelly Thomas' death:
- Calls for Resignation, Recall in Fullerton over Kelly Thomas Beating
Kelly's Heroes: Fullerton police savagely killed Kelly Thomas and businessman/blogger Tony Bushala isn't letting anyone forget
- "Justice for Kelly" Chanted at Vigil for Fullerton Police Brutality Victim
- Hundreds Protest Fullerton Police Brutality After Disgraceful Kelly Thomas Killing
- Protest Fullerton Police Brutality Today: Victim's Vigil Tonigh
- Fullerton Cops Involved in Death of Kelly Thomas Back On Duty
- Kelly Thomas' Officer-Involved Death Was Videotaped; Councilman Calls for Release to Public
- Kelly Thomas' Retired-Deputy Father Blasts Fullerton Police for 'Killing My Son'
ORIGINAL POST, AUG. 5, 8:43 A.M.: Executive director Hector Villagra of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California has issued a statement saying the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) is "incapable of impartial investigation" into the police-beating death of Fullerton's Kelly Thomas.
In the full statement that follows, the ACLU leader also says the case "spotlights the complete lack in Orange County of government services for the mentally ill and chronically homeless populations."
ACLU's Villagra: O.C. District Attorney Incapable of Impartial Investigation into Police Beating Death of Homeless Man
(Los Angeles) - In response to the July 5th beating death by Fullerton Police of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas, a homeless man with schizophrenia, ACLU of Southern California Executive Director Hector Villagra released the following statement:
"While much of what led to Kelly Thomas' death is still hazy, several things are already crystal clear now.
"We are pleased that the FBI will investigate Thomas' death. Although Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas reportedly has some two dozen investigators working on the case, interviewing up to 100 witnesses, the district attorney has an abysmal track record when it comes to investigating and prosecuting officer-involved deaths.
"In 2004, an investigation by the L.A. Weekly found that of 50 officer-involved shootings in the previous five years, not a single one was pursued for prosecution by the D.A.'s office. In 2007, the D.A. cleared two Huntington Beach officers in the shooting death of Ashley McDonald, who was shot 15 times after brandishing a knife.
"The bottom line is that the district attorney's office is simply not the body to conduct an independent investigation. These are prosecutors accustomed to working with police officers and building their cases with the assistance of police officers. A thorough, impartial inquiry requires investigators who are not in daily contact with police; indeed, whose daily work doesn't require police cooperation.
"We call on Fullerton Police and the district attorney's office to release a full accounting of what took place, including the release of additional videos from the bus depot showing the beating. The district attorney's office has said those videos may present a different picture of the incident; we won't know until they're shared with the public.
"The incident also spotlights the complete lack in Orange County of government services for the mentally ill and chronically homeless populations. Without such services, tragic incidents like this will continue to occur, as police officers, improperly trained in identifying people with mental illness or de-escalating encounters with them, are called upon to respond to homeless individuals with untreated illnesses."
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