Fullerton City Councilman Bruce Whitaker, a vocal critic of his town's police department in the wake of the Kelly Thomas saga, surely could drum up a place in the crowd of the many protests taking place in that North County municipality.
If Whitaker wants to spread beyond city borders to demonstrate his disdain for cops gone wild, he need drive no farther up the Orange Freeway than to nearby Anaheim, the new home of Occupy, neighborhood activism and other assorted rousers of the rabble.
But this past Saturday morning, Whitaker crossed county borders to blast cops for fatally shooting an innocent.
As Downey Beat's Ben Baeder reports, Whitaker participated in a Saturday morning march drawing attention to October's fatal shooting of Michael Nida, a married father of four who was unarmed when he was shot in the back by a police officer from that Southeast Los Angeles County city. My former colleague Marisa Gerber Navel Gazed that sad incident:
Joined at the Downey protest by others from Fullerton as well as Anaheim, Whitaker reportedly called on residents there to demand facts from Downey PD about what happened the night of the shooting–just as the councilman has demanded from Fullerton PD. This may be even more critical in Downey, Whitaker noted, because watchdogs there do not have something that has helped fuel public and legal pressure in Orange County.
“We were fortunate that they got caught by a their own Homeland
Security provided camera,” Whitaker said of the Fullerton officers who beat Thomas like a piñata. Whitaker had only been on the Fullerton council a few months when that happened, ushering in one of the most divisive periods in city history.
Joined recently by new council members swept into office by the recall of Fullerton incumbents, Whitaker has vehemently called for the release of more information surrounding the Thomas case. The councilman is doing so again in the killing of 31-year-old Nida, who Downey Police claim was mistakenly suspected of having committed a robbery near an ATM.
Of that department's refusal to release ATM surveillance video of the crime, Whitaker reportedly said, “They're inhibiting the public's right to know what happened.”
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.