September 22, 2011 | 2:17pm
It's been about 28 hours since the D.A. charged two Fullerton cops in the brutal beating death of Kelly Thomas.
In some ways what happened yesterday changed things, and in others it didn't.
Marcellus McRae, a former federal prosecutor who now works as a trial lawyer in Los Angeles, says what happened yesterday was a big deal. "Here you have a district attorney that's made a decision that criminal charges are warranted. "It's not just unusual, that's pretty significant." McRae says the D.A.'s decision wasn't only a victory for Thomas' family, but for the judicial system, in general. "Even the filing, it's a reaffirmation of society's respect for individual rights and the empowerment of the citizens in the community."
Something else changed after the D.A.'s decision yesterday, too. Three members of the Fullerton city council have opened up a bit. The three men -- Mayor Richard Jones
, Mayor Pro Tem Don Bankhead
and Councilman Pat McKinley
-- who are being recalled largely because of how they handled the aftermath of Kelly Thomas' beating, released statements, which are posted on the anti-recall blog.
"Remaining silent to let the investigative process run unfettered was difficult but essential," Jones said. In his statement he also apologized to the Thomas family and said the behavior of the officers "saddened" him and gave the police department and the city "a black eye." Similarly, Bankhead, who was on the Fullerton police squad for 31 years, called yesterday "one of the darkest days in Fullerton's history." And, McKinley, who served as Fullerton's police chief for sixteen years, said that he hired both of the officers who were charged, adding that he couldn't "comprehend how they drifted so far from their training."
Ron Thomas, left, tells members of "Kelly's Army" that the D.A. planned to charge one officer with second-degree murder and another with manslaughter
Marisa Gerber/ OCWeekly
As for Ron Thomas and "Kelly's Army," the fight is still on. They're still celebrating yesterday's decision, of course, but now they have a new target -- the four officers who weren't charged. "I want to go after the other four on administrative leave. We need to keep the pressure on, big time. They're guilty by association," Thomas said. Although one of their main demands was action from the D.A., Kelly's Army will still protest this Saturday in front of the police department, Thomas said, and focus on the other four officers.
There are two other investigations still pending in the case, too. Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the F.B.I, said their investigation, which is independent of the state's case, is ongoing. Michael Gennaco was hired by the city of Fullerton to conduct an independent review into Thomas' beating and the police department. Today, Gennaco told the Weekly that he's hoping to meet with the D.A. in the next couple of days. "We've got to figure out who does what and what information we can get from them, rather than reinvent the whole wheel." Because he's also looking into administrative issues, Gennaco says he'll be conducting other interviews, too.