How prosecutors pretend to take violent police misconduct seriously
After months of community pressure, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has filed charges against two Fullerton police officers in the horrific beating death of Kelly Thomas, a schizophrenic homeless man.
Prosecutors charged one police officer with murder and another with manslaughter Wednesday in the killing of an unarmed, mentally ill homeless man who was pummeled, shocked with a Taser and slammed with the butt of a stun gun in a beating that lasted nearly 10 minutes.
Fullerton Officer Manuel Ramos was charged with one count each of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas after a violent confrontation with officers on July 5, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said at a news conference.
Police Cpl. Jay Cicinelli was charged with one count each of involuntary manslaughter and excessive force.
At first glance, this appears to be a positive development, and it is certainly preferable to the standard “no charges filed, officers returned to active duty” response those who follow law enforcement misconduct have come to expect. However, a closer look at the article serves as an excellent lesson in prosecutorial bullshit and a complicit media always ready to kiss the asses of the powerful.
Notice one officer is being charged with 2nd degree murder AND involuntary manslaughter: Officer Manuel Ramos was charged with one count each of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter
The DA is well aware that juries generally trust police and are not likely to convict a cop of 2nd degree murder. This means the cop will likely be found not guilty or guilty of the lesser crime.
This grants the prosecutor the appearance of a principled stand against police misconduct in the eyes of a public that does not pay close attention, but is rightfully outraged when police push the weak around. (Get yer headphones) While at the same time, the prosecutor avoids pissing off the police because they are well aware of the tactics being used.
Also, notice how the article quietly pushes the DA’s agenda from the very start, Prosecutors charged one police officer with murder and another with manslaughter…
No, the DA charged both men with involuntary manslaughter for a very deliberate and cynically tricksy reason.