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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Illinois Wiretapping Law Reaching A Boiling Point

Illinois police officers have to be the most smug cops in the nation knowing they have the power to arrest citizens on felony charges for recording them in public while they themselves have every right to record citizens.

That smugness is very evident in the latest case to emerge from the Land of Lincoln.

Louis Frobe was pulled over last year by Lindenhurst police for speeding. Frobe didn’t think he was speeding so he pulled out his Flip camera to record the interaction.

Meanwhile, the officer who had pulled him over was recording the interaction with his own dash cam.

Here is the conversation recorded by the officer’s dash cam and obtained by ABC7 in Chicago.

Officer: "That recording?

Frobe : "Yes, Yes, I've been...

Officer: "Was it recording all of our conversation?

Frobe: "Yes. Officer: "Guess what? You were eavesdropping on our conversation. I did not give you permission to do so. Step out of the vehicle."

Louis Frobe was then cuffed and arrested for felony eavesdropping.

"I was terrified. I was absolutely terrified. I was begging him, I said I didn't know about this law. Would you please take the camera - this is no big deal - and smash it. You know I didn't know about the law,"

Frobe, who ended up spending the night in jail, was facing 15 years in prison.

Fortunately charges against him were dropped, even though he was technically breaking the law as absurd as that law is.

And he has since filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law.

And let’s not forget the ACLU is also challenging the constitutionality of the law. And let’s not forget an Illinois judge dismissed felony wiretapping charges against Michael Allison earlier this month.

However, prosecutors plan to appeal that decision, which should turn out to be one of the most laughable arguments in the history of law.

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NYPD Supervisor Caught On Video Punching Citizen At Protest

Another video has emerged showing a white-shirted New York City police supervisor punching a citizen during the Occupy Wall Street protests.

The video doesn't capture much before the incident but if you slow it down and watch it frame by frame, it doesn't appear as if the citizen had done anything to provoke the punch.

A second white-shirted cop then jumps in and helps slam the man down on the ground where he is arrested.

The video was posted to Youtube on Wednesday and further confirms what we've seen in almost two weeks of protests - that the white-shirted police supervisors are clearly more aggressive than the blue-uniformed rank and file officers.

The protesters have continually reached out to the blue-uniformed cops, encouraging them to join them in solidarity.

While the rumors that 100 cops refusing to show up to work in support of the protesters were never confirmed, numerous Youtube videos show the blue-uniformed cops to be much more sympathetic than their white-shirted supervisors - who seem to be oblivious to the multitude of cameras around them.

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In its 12th day, the protest is gaining momentum with various groups joining the original twenty-something protesters who swarmed Wall Street on September 17.

On Tuesday, more than 700 pilots from Continental and United Continental marched down Wall Street in protest of "slow contract negotiations and misinformation regarding merger integration."

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The Raging Grannies, an activist group made up of elderly ladies, have also joined the protest. And next week, labor unions and other community organizations are planning on joining.

Time magazine published a piece today stating that there are about 300 activists camping out at Zuccotti Park with hundreds more joining them throughout the day and many more arriving this weekend.

Time also stated that the protest grows more organized with each passing day.

Over the past 12 days, however, those numbers have grown. On a late-night visit to Zuccotti Park on Tuesday, the fecklessness and disorganization reported earlier in the New York Times seemed largely absent. A protest that began in utter dysfunction has given way to a fairly organized movement with a base camp for its most stalwart members, now numbering more than 300 people, who have slept in the park for 12 nights straight–and who say they intend to stay.

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NYPD Commander Anthony Bologna Pepper Sprays Citizens In Second Video

A second video has emerged showing NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna recklessly unleashing pepper spray on non-violent protesters as well as fellow officers at the ongoing Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.

Bologna, who was identified as the cop who pepper sprayed a pair of women who were already detained on Saturday, apparently keeps his pepper spray canister in his hands at all times, unleashing streams of pepper spray on unsuspecting citizens before disappearing back into the crowd.

The 29-year veteran of the NYPD is already a defendant in a lawsuit accusing him of abusing the rights of protesters during the 2004 Republican National Convention.

On Wednesday, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said the department will investigate Bologna's actions.

Pepper spray is meant to be used as a self-defense tactic and is believed to have lead to some deaths, according to Wikipedia.

Its inflammatory effects cause the eyes to close, taking away vision. This temporary blindness allows officers to more easily restrain subjects and permits persons using pepper spray for self-defense an opportunity to escape.

Although considered a non-lethal agent, it may be deadly in rare cases, and concerns have been raised about a number of deaths where being pepper sprayed may have been a contributing factor.

How long before Bologna – who was nicknamed Tony Baloney back in grade school – will score the hat trick?

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NYPD Cop Berates, Threatens Citizen Photographing 9/11 Memorial

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New York City police officer Mark DeSimone began experiencing “ill effects from the aftermath of 9/11” in 2003, which prompted him to begin participating in triathlons as a way to cope with these repercussions.

But he doesn’t appear to have fully recovered because he practically lost his mind on a citizen who was photographing the National 9/11 Memorial last week.

DeSimone detained Meredith Dodson for 20 minutes after she snapped a photo of the long pathway into the site.

Here is how she explained it to Gothamist:

The officer continued to berate me and stood within inches of my face to yell at me and say how he had lost many friends on 911 and he just barely survived and how he was protecting the area from terrorists. He asked me where I was from (I said Georgia) and he said he was from Alabama and that I should know not to take pictures through a mesh. I said I didn't know about a no photography rule for inside the area. I was crying by this point and asked why I was still being detained and was I begin charged with anything.

He did not answer my question and continued to threaten me by saying that he would do a background check and that he could arrest us and charge my friends and me with trespassing. He said that "my friends are assholes" and that if they came back there would be problems. I didn't understand why he was continuing to be so aggressive towards me. My husband and friend had already left the area (about 50 feet away) and I was certainly not being anything but polite to him. I didn't even know why he was threatening me with these things especially since I had already had the background check to be allowed into the area. I signed up for tickets two weeks prior and was still in the cordoned area where all the tourists were. I didn't even attempt to go into an area that I wasn't allowed. I took a picture from inside the visitor area.

In August 2010, DeSimone was honored as Athlete of the Month in the New York World Police and Fire Games.

Police Officer Mark DeSimone has been with the New York City Police Department since 1999.  Throughout his years with the department, he has worked as a patrol officer in the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, spent some time with the Narcotics division, and taught for two years as a specialized training instructor at the Police Academy.  In 2003, Mark began to experience some ill effects from the aftermath of 9/11. Inspired by an article on an NYPD Captain who participated in Triathlons, he began to train in an effort to offset the and participated in his first event that same year.  Since then, he has competed in numerous triathlons all around the country.  In 2009, he organized a First Responders triathlon group consisting of Police Officers, Firefighters, EMS workers and Federal Agents from around the country. He hopes to build upon the success of this organization and participate in the 2011 games in New York.

Sounds to me as he needs to be treated for post stress traumatic disorder.

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MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell Criticizes Cops As Aggressors

Veteran reporter Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC delivered harsh words against the New York City Police Department for arresting hundreds of people without just cause. He especially berated them for arresting a man with a video camara.

“The reason that man is being assaulted by the police is because of what he has in his hand,” O’Donnell said, while showing a video clip of a man with a video camera being tackled by police. “He’s holding a professional grade video camera. Since the Rodney King beating was caught on an amateur video camera, American police officers have known video cameras are their worst enemy. They will do anything they can to stop you from legally videotaping how they handle their responsibility to serve and protect you.”

“Everything those cops did this weekend to those protesters they’ve done to someone else when no video camera was rolling,” he later added.

Perhaps this is the media coverage the protesters were hoping for all along.

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Commanding NYPD Cops Abusing Powers More Than Rank And File Cops In Protest

 

In what may be a glaring example of the class divisions being played out during the Occupy Wall Street protests, commanding New York City police officers are abusing their powers more than the rank and file officers.

“You would think it would be the other way around,” said activist Patrick Bruner in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime Monday. “You would think it would be the cops with the least experience.”

“In almost every instance of police brutality we’ve seen, it is the white-collared supervisors doing the abusing. The blue shirt police officers have mostly been on our side.”

The videos confirm his statements.

Bruner, one of the spokespeople for the group, also said that commanding officers have been targeting videographers and photographers.

“We’re not sure if the superior officers have an order or at least a tactical understanding to eliminate any ability for us to get the word out, but it’s obvious that they are specifically targeting the people running our live stream,” he said.

On Saturday, right before the protesters began their march from Zuccotti Park to Union Square, police officers arrested two videographers who were live streaming for their site.

A white-shirted supervisor initiated those arrests, he said.

The Occupy Wall Street site also stated they “received unconfirmed reports that over one hundred blue-collar police refused to come into work in solidarity with our movement.”

Anthony Bologna

The most obvious incident of supervisory police abuse so far was committed by NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, a 29-year veteran caught on video pepper spraying a pair of women who were already detained and not resisting (watch the above video).

The women were standing behind an orange barricade held in place by blue-uniformed officers when Bologna snuck up behind the officers and shot a stream of pepper spray towards the women before disappearing into the crowd again.

The spray even struck at least two of the blue-uniformed officers, who were pretty upset at him.

“They did not look happy,” said David, a photographer who was standing on the outside of the barrier, who asked that his last name not be used when contacted today by PINAC.

“They yelled his name out after he walked away. They looked upset and were rubbing their eyes.

“They looked as if they wanted to help the women who had gotten sprayed but they couldn’t because they had to keep holding the fence.”

In fact, the white-shirted supervisors would reach over the barricades and grab whomever they thought was a leader in the group and pull them out to arrest them, he said.

David, who lives in the city, said he has been photographing the protests for four days and agreed that it was the white-shirted supervisors abusing their powers.

“I would stand and talk to some of the officers in blue and thank them for protecting us,” he said. “They seemed open to what we were doing and appreciated it.

“But the cops in the white shirts were the ones giving the orders, yelling into the microphones, telling them who to arrest.”

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It was David who first identified Bologna by comparing videos and zooming in on his name tag, then posting his findings on his website.

After that, the hacker group Anonymous exposed his full identity, including his addresses and the fact that he was listed in a civil suit in 2005.

The Guardian then dug deeper and discovered that the lawsuit stems from the 2004 Republican National Convention in which he was accused of abusing his power by arresting protesters with no due cause.

Bologna, who was profiled in a 2005 Villager article, was described as an honest cop who worked his way up the ranks, including a stint in internal affairs.

In February 1993 he began working as an internal investigator in the chief of patrol’s office. “It was my first taste of internal investigation and it opened my eyes to the darker side of police work,” Bologna said.

“You read in the papers about cops doing things that you can’t believe because you think everybody’s like you.”

It's hard to imagine any of those cops ever received the exposure Bologna is currently receiving.

Arrested for video recording

David also photographed police leading away a handcuffed woman who was arrested for video recording.

Marisa Holmes was recording a man who was kneeling in the street in front of the bank that had repossessed his parents’ home.

Robert Stephens, a law student, was yelling his story, telling the cops to arrest him. He would place his hands on his head and behind his back, just waiting for them to handcuff him.

But for more than two minutes, groups of blue-uniformed cops would walk by him, ignoring him as hordes of protesters would photograph and record him.

It was finally a white-shirted cop – who looks a lot like Bologna – who grabs his arm, initiating the arrest.

Then, another white-shirted cop wearing a red jacket gets into Holmes face, ordering her away, telling her to get off the street.

But the street was already blocked off to traffic with barricades, said David.

Holmes moved in to get closer to Stephen’s arrest when the supervisor with the red jacket grabbed her. She was able to hand off her camera to another protester, who continued recording.

David snapped this photo as she was being led away.

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Boston Review reporter also gets pepper sprayed

Jeanne Mansfield, a writer for the Boston Review, said she got caught up in the melee before the Bologna incident and video recorded even more aggressive acts from the white-shirted cops, including them pulling people from behind the corral to arrest them.

She also confirms that it is the white-shirted cops escalating the tensions.

A new group of police officers arrives in white shirts, as opposed to dark blue. These guys are completely undiscerning in their aggression. If someone gets in their way, they shove them headfirst into the nearest parked car, at which point the officers are immediately surrounded by camera phones and shouts of “Shame! Shame!”

Up until this point, Frank and I have managed to stay ahead of the nets, but as we hit what I think is 12th Street, they’ve caught up. The blue-shirts aren’t being too forceful, so we manage to run free, but stay behind to see what happens. Then things go nuts.

The white-shirted cops are shouting at us to get off the street as they corral us onto the sidewalk. One African American man gets on the curb but refuses to be pushed up against the wall of the building; they throw him into the street, and five cops tackle him. As he’s being cuffed, a white kid with a video camera asks him “What’s your name?! What’s your name?!” One of the blue-shirted cops thinks he’s too close and gives him a little shove. A white-shirt sees this, grabs the kid and without hesitation billy-clubs him in the stomach.

Here is her video.

 

More reports of photographers getting arrested

Gothamist has also been reporting on the arrests of photographers.

Times' Up! photographer Barbara Ross tells us that as she was filming Saturday's march down Broadway to Union Square, a white-shirted NYPD officer repeatedly warned her that she would be arrested unless she started marching with the demonstrators. "I was standing off to the side so I could document what was going on—you couldn't really see much from within the group," Ross says, "And he kept saying, 'You either join them or I'll arrest you.' I wasn't blocking traffic or harming anything, it was obvious it was because I was holding a camera."

Jim Kiernan, who was shooting Saturday's protests for Gothamist, said that NYPD officers were "definitely" zeroing in on anyone with a camera. At around 12th Street and Fifth Avenue, Kiernan saw a large black SUV pull up next to a few police supervisors. "It was Ray Kelly. He rolled down his window and I had a perfect shot but I knew if I pointed my camera at him I'd get arrested on the spot." Moments later, "a videographer who I had seen all day, who didn't seem to be part of the protest was arrested. One officer took her camera, another cuffed her," Kiernan said. "A few seconds later, another photographer next to her gets arrested—no provocation whatsoever. That's when I decided I was done for the day."

Below are even more videos that show the white-shirted cops as the aggressors. In the second video, the action begins right after 4:15.

In some of the videos, there is a man walking around in a full suit with blondish hair and a mustache that appears to be calling the shots. I wonder who he is.

There is also a group of protesters gathering in Pershing Square in Los Angeles with a live stream.

 

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No Need For Media To Cover Wall Street Protests When Every Citizen Has A Camera

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The protesters began arriving Saturday, September 17th; anywhere between 500 to 2,000 activists depending whom you believe, swarming Manhattan’s financial sector in an operation they called Occupy Wall Street.

Their goal, to put it simply, was to bring reform to the country’s financial structure - to end corporate greed and reduce the gap between the rich and the poor – things that every president has failed to do in the last several decades.

Inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings, they had vowed to occupy Wall Street for weeks, even months.

Despite accusations of a media blackout, there were a handful of mainstream news reports that emerged in the beginning, but not much after that. CNN even provided a preview the day before.

And when the media finally did bother to report on it again after the fifth day of occupation, it took on a very condescending tone, especially the New York Times piece.

The group’s lack of cohesion and its apparent wish to pantomime progressivism rather than practice it knowledgably is unsettling in the face of the challenges so many of its generation face — finding work, repaying student loans, figuring out ways to finish college when money has run out. But what were the chances that its members were going to receive the attention they so richly deserve carrying signs like “Even if the World Were to End Tomorrow I’d Still Plant a Tree Today”?

But the Times piece emphasized exactly what is going on in this country.

People are pissed off but the media, corporations and politicians are just not getting it or just don’t care to get it.

Perhaps the protesters’ message is convoluted.

Perhaps it does not get condensed into a one-page press release to simplify it for reporters.

Perhaps the issues facing our country today are a little too complex to summarize in a couple of sound bites.

But what is taking place in New York as we speak and what will take place this afternoon in Occupy Seattle is part of an ongoing movement that is just now finding its voice.

The truth is, it will never be just one voice, but many voices. And that can be thwarting for journalists who are so dependent on flacks to provide them information.

Unlike previous demonstrations against corporate greed, this has remained relatively peaceful – no broken shop windows or overturned cop cars - which is why the media didn’t find it too exciting.

It wasn’t until a week into the protest when police began making mass arrests that the media started covering it in earnest.

But by then, it didn’t really matter because the protesters were doing a fine job of disseminating information themselves through Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.

Not suprisingly, NYPD began targeting photographers, according to Gothamist:

Witnesses, including our own photographer, tell us that the NYPD has been specifically targeting photographers and videographers for arrest. Two protestors who were maintaining the live video feed of the protests were arrested on Saturday, the first claiming that she was detained solely because she was holding a camera. "Those are the first people the police go after," protest organizer Patrick Bruner tells us. "They're always the first to get held up."ore than 80 protesters on Saturday on baseless charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

More than 80 people were arrested on Saturday, mostly on baseless charges like disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, which are the old standby charges when a crime has not been committed.

Here's a collection of photos that show aggressive police tactics. And here are more photos and coverage.

Below are just a handful of videos that are making the rounds on the internet. They’ve all received hundreds of thousands of views in only a matter of days, proving that the mainstream media is becoming more obsolete with each passing day.

The first three videos show the typical overly aggressive tactics used by police to crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, including one where an officer wearing a white shirt pepper sprays a pair of women for no reason.

Activists determined that officer was NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna.

And the fourth video is a series of conversations with protesters as to what exactly they are trying to accomplish.

It's too bad the New York Times didn't bother to interview those people.

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Milwaukee Police Chief Proves Not So Charming In Blaming Journalist For Unlawful Arrest

 

You would think Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn would have a soft spot for journalists. After all, he had a steamy love affair with a journalist more than 20 years his junior a couple of years ago.

Both were married and it created a little controversy in their community, especially because both violated ethical standards within their respective professions.

But Flynn proved to have no respect for the First Amendment rights of Fox6 news videographer Clint Fillinger, who was arrested Sunday while trying to cover a house fire.

Although the video clearly shows Fillinger had every right to continue videotaping when he was ordered away from the area and arrested, Flynn said he should have simply followed the sergeant’s orders – as unlawful as they were.

So now Fox6, the National Press Photographers Association, the Radio Television Digital News Association and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press are pretty pissed off at him.

All four organizations have sent him letters and the NPPA sent him a follow-up letter in response to his moronic comments.

Although I have yet to receive a response to my letter dated 9/20/11 I have had an opportunity to listen to the comments you made to the Milwaukee media yesterday. I find it quite disturbing to hear you say that “if the cameraman had simply complied with the instructions, had simply complied with the instructions to back off from a working fire none of this hullabaloo would be taking place.” As is clearly evident from Mr. Fillinger’s video he was complying with the sergeant’s unlawful order when he was forcefully pushed to the ground and arrested. In case you did not have an opportunity to read the decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit that I sent, it is well established that the “fundamental and virtually self-evident nature of the First Amendment’s protections” guarantees the “right to film government officials or matters of public interest in public space.” 

Perhaps Flynn is a little jaded about the media’s right-to-know after his fling with Jessica McBride, which became the talk of the town in 2009.

According to her 5,000-word article where she gushed about him endlessly, she states that he has a history of charming the media and others with whom he comes in contact, especially when he was being considered for the job.

She described it as Flynn's "charm offensive."

He stood out at the finalist interviews of the Fire and Police Commission, wowing its members with his intellect, national connections and communication skills. “Ed Flynn has the ability to talk a dog off a meat wagon,” says Mike Tobin, the Fire and Police Commission’s executive director and a former Milwaukee cop.

Flynn is also a compelling physical presence: tall, iron-haired, fit (he once rode a bicycle 233 miles) and energetic. He has what one observer calls “command bearing.”

***

The mayor was charmed. The vote by Barrett’s Fire and Police Commission appointees was unanimous. And within a few months of taking the job, Flynn had won over even aldermen who opposed his appointment, like Bob Donovan and Bob Bauman. “He’s very polished, very articulate, very sharp,” Bauman marvels. “I’m very high on him,” Donovan gushes.

Almost everyone seems to be. The police union. The head of the local NAACP. Community activists. Conservative talk show hosts. Groups that normally agree on nothing have all embraced the new chief.

***

Flynn can be blunt, yet charming; winningly persuasive, yet difficult to get to know. In Braintree, “he was aloof,” says Polio. “A hard-to-read person,” says Virginia White, a community activist in Springfield. His daughter notes that Flynn “keeps going into situations as an outsider, so that makes him hesitant sometimes to open up.”

Yet he always seems to charm the media. “There’s a puff piece everywhere he went,” Polio sniffs.

But it doesn’t appear as if he is going to charm his way out of this blunder.

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The Power Of Social Media Forced Spotlight On Fullerton Police Abuse Case

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Fullerton police officer Manuel Ramos knew Kelly Thomas when he confronted him at a bus depot on July 5.

He knew Thomas was homeless. He knew Thomas was mentally ill. He knew Thomas had a reputation for being non-violent.

So maybe that’s why he thought he could get away with bullying and intimidating and threatening and beating and eventually killing Thomas.

Ramos also knew there was a surveillance camera at the bus depot. He had to know because it was controlled by police dispatchers who had the ability to zoom in close to subjects. The 10-year police veteran was also wearing a police-issued body microphone that recorded every word.

But he didn’t care.

He didn’t care how many people watched as he ordered Thomas to sit on a curb, demanding that he stretch his legs out and place his hands on his knees while his partner emptied the contents of Thomas’ backpack on his squad car.

He didn’t care how many people watched as he slipped on a pair of Latex gloves, then ball his hands into fists and hold them up in front of Thomas’s face when the homeless drifter appeared to have cognitive trouble following his orders.

“Now you see my fists,” he yelled at Thomas, who was sitting passively on the curb, just not with his hands on his knees.

“They’re getting ready to fuck you up,” he said, according to the Orange County Register, which compiled a step-by-step account of how the murder took place that summer night.

Ramos then grabbed Thomas’s arm. Thomas hopped up and took a few steps away, obviously in fear for his life.

Ramos pulled out his baton. Thomas held his hands in front of his face.

“Get on the ground,” Ramos yelled.

Ramos then chased him down a few steps, swinging his baton and tackling Thomas near another curb.

The physical altercation began as Ramos swung his baton and chased Thomas.  Ramos punched Thomas several times in the left ribs after tackling him to the ground. He used his hand to hold Thomas' neck, partially lying on Thomas to use his body weight to pin Thomas to the ground. He held him for other officers, who were responding to the call for help, to use their physical force against Thomas.

Officer Joseph Wolfe, the cop searching Thomas’ backpack for evidence that he was breaking into cars that night (and found none), came running to help pin Thomas down.

Eight minutes after Ramos and Wolfe confronted Thomas, Corporal Jay Cicinelli pulled up in his squad car and began torturing Thomas.

Three other cops arrived, Officer Kenton Hampton, Sgt. Kevin Craig and Cpl. James Blatney and held Thomas down as Cicinelli beat and tased him.

Cpl. Jay Cicinelli arrived at the scene at about 8:45 p.m. He kneed Thomas twice in the head and used his Taser four times on Thomas, including three times as a "drive stun" for about five seconds each. Then, Cicinelli conducted a "dart deployment," in which two darts connected to wires were ejected from the Taser and affixed to Thomas for roughly 12 seconds. Thomas screamed and yelled in pain while getting shocked by the Taser. Cicinelli then used the front end of the Taser to hit Thomas in the head and facial area eight times, while multiple officers pinned Thomas to the ground with their bodies. All of this happened with no audible sounds from Thomas.

The district attorney’s office compiled this scenario after watching the surveillance video, interviewing 151 witnesses and reviewing footage from two cell phone videos as well as the bus video, meaning there are at least two videos that have not been released to the public.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas determined that Ramos and Cicinelli were the main culprits in Thomas’ death.

Ramos has been charged with second-degree murder and involuntarily manslaughter, which seems a little contradictory. He either meant to kill him or he didn’t.

And it seems as if Cicinelli is getting off easy with charges of involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force. After all, he continued beating on Thomas after he had stopped showing signs of life.

But he is already out of jail after pleading not guilty and paying a $25,000 bond. Ramos, on the other hand, remains in jail on a $1 million bond, according to CNN.

And the other four cops are getting off scot-free.

Rackauckas said "the evidence does not show knowing participation in an unlawful act on the part of these officers."

But he also said these officers held Thomas down while Ramos and Cicinelli beat and tased him.

Anybody else participating in such a mob beating would have been charged with some type of conspiracy or accessory charge, even if all they did was hold the victim down.

So at what point do police officers become liable for their actions? Or in this case, their inaction to stop the other officers from killing Thomas?

Release of the video

The videos still haven't been released and it appears as if Rackauckas will do all he can to prevent them from being released.

But Thomas' father, a retired Orange County deputy, plans to file a lawsuit, meaning he will have access to the video as evidence for his own claim.

Ron Thomas has always said he wants the video released. After all, he was the one that released the initial photo of his son bloodied face in a hospital bed that generated so much attention, when the local media had ignored the case in the beginning.

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Even if he does try to release the video, Rackauckas or the cops' attorneys can convince the judge to issue an order forbidding the release the video.

I'm surprised it hasn't been leaked out by now.

Rackauckas is being praised by the Orange County Weekly as having his "finest moment" at the press conference (check out video in bottom of story).

This is a county where cops, even profoundly warped ones, historically have been given carte blanche. Nobody can remember a single cop ever being charged with unnecessarily killing anyone here in modern times.

So it wasn't surprising that prior to today's press conference, not one reporter who routinely covers Rackauckas predicted he'd file charges tougher than assault under color of authority. But the DA stunned everyone. I know firsthand that more than a few of his bitter critics are flabbergasted.

So perhaps Rackauckas is taking baby steps is answering the calls from justice from the people.

This case, as Reason TV explained in its video below, only came to light because the people wouldn't shut up about it. This was a case study of social media replacing traditional media.

 

On a local level, social media allowed locals to organize and attend a Fullerton city council meeting demanding answers, which drew the attention of the local media. On the national level, social media drew the attention of the national media and the FBI, which is conducting its own investigation.

Through blogs and Youtube and Twitter and Facebook, we all did our part in spreading the news, forcing our followers to pay attention to this horrific crime that was going unpunished.

Remember, it took a month for the cops to even be placed on paid administrative leave.

Cicinelli was so confident that he would get away with his crime that he bragged about it in the police locker room the following day.

But too many people witnessed what really happened. And at least one police insider watched the video and became extremely upset, calling the local radio station and describing what he saw.

And the locals continued to storm city council meetings and stage weekly protests, demanding justice for Kelly Thomas.

So knowing his career was on the line, Rackauckas was forced to do the right thing.

But he needs to release all the videos and pictures and autopsy reports as well as the personnel records of all the cops involved.

After all, this is just as much our case as it is his.

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