Cops Vs. Cameras: The Killing of Kelly Thomas & The Power of New Media




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Published on Sep 21, 2011

NOTE: Because of violent images, viewer discretion is advised.

The autopsy results from the death of Kelly Thomas, a schizophrenic drifter who was allegedly beaten to death by Fullerton, California police will be announced today by Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.

Rackauckas will also announce whether he will file charges against the officers involved in Thomas' death, following the office's investigation. The confrontation with police took place at a municipal bus station on July 5, with Thomas dying in the hospital five days later. This press conference comes weeks after the Fullerton police refused to answer questions about the case.

Regardless of today's announcements, Thomas' death is a case study of how ubiquitous phones with cameras and the Internet are transferring power from the government, police, and the media to the masses. Images and word of the beating spread not because of official communications but by viral cell phone video of the incident and a horrific hospital photo taken by his father of Thomas in a coma.

After the photo and video were released, the Fullerton community reacted in outrage at city council meetings and at protests outside the Fullerton police department. Whatever charges are filed (or not) today, the death of Kelly Thomas will remain an example of how new media is changing the old guard.

Written and produced by Paul Detrick, who also narrates. Camera by Detrick, Alex Manning, and Zach Weissmueller. Special thanks to Ron Thomas.

About 8 minutes.

Go to http://reason.tv/video/show/2145 for a longer discussion, documentation, and related videos.


The Orange County District Attorney's Office has charged Officer Manuel Ramos with one felony count of second degree murder and one felony count of felony manslaughter.

Officer Jay Cicinelli faces one felony count of manslaughter and a felony count of excessive force.

For developing news on the Kelly Thomas case, visit http://www.fullertonsfuture.org/ .


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