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The city surveillance video that shows a group of Fullerton police officers beating a homeless mentally ill man to death last year was finally released today, laying to rest any argument that Kelly Thomas was a threat to officers.
The shocking video, which was combined with an audio recorder worn by one of the police officers on the night of July 5, 2011, was shown in court today, then later released to the media.
“Now you see my fists?” Fullerton police officer Manny Ramos asked Thomas while slipping on a pair of latex gloves.
“Yeah, what about them?” Thomas responded.
“They are getting ready to fuck you up,” said Ramos, a burly cop who appears to outweigh Thomas by 100 pounds.
“Well, start punching,” Thomas responds, never once displaying any physical aggression towards Ramos.
Moments later, as Thomas is standing while Ramos is ordering him to get on his “fucking knees,” Fullerton cop Joseph Wolfe, who is not charged in the case, walks up and starts beating his legs with a baton.
Then Ramos gets into the act and Thomas takes off running, moving out of the frame of the camera.
The camera, operated by a dispatcher at the station, then moves toward the beating, showing Ramos and Fullerton cop Jay Cicinelli on top of Thomas as Thomas repeatedly apologizes and telling them he is unable to breathe.
The cops keep telling him to put his hands behind his back and lay on his stomach, but they are both laying on top of him, making it impossible to even breathe, much less move.
As the video continues, one of the cops can be seen kneeing him.
“Please, I can’t breathe,” Thomas pleads as the officers keep telling him to put his hands behind his “fucking back.”
The cops keep telling him to “relax” to which he responds, “I can’t, dude.”
More cops eventually arrive and a little more than four minutes into the video, they start tasing him.
And a little after five minutes into the video, as three cops are piled on top of him, beating him, tasing him, one cop looks up at another cop who just arrived on the scene and says, “help us.”
At one point he yells out, “Dad, they are killing me.”
Even after seven minutes into the video, when six cops are on top of him and all Thomas is doing is crying for his father, they keep telling him to “relax.”
Last year, Ron Thomas, a retired Orange County Sheriff’s deputy, said the City of Fullerton offered him $900,000 to just go away, which would have allowed the two cops to remain on the force unpunished for killing his son.
Thomas was pronounced dead on July 10, five days after the beating that left him in a coma.
The cops weren’t placed on administrative leave as is customary in a death of a suspect until August 2. And only because the community was outraged.
But it’s no doubt city and police officials watched the above video that same night. They even acknowledged allowing the officers to watch the video to complete their incident reports.
I guess we should be relieved they never destroyed the video as cops are so used to doing.
During today’s hearing, a crime scene investigator named Dawn Scruggs testifed that Ramos and Cicinelli were out of breath and in disbelief after killing him, apparently trying to sway the court into believing Thomas deserved to die.
But anybody who sees the video can see he did nothing to deserve the beating.
Ramos is being charged with second degree murder and faces up to 15 years in prison. Cicinelli is being charged with involuntary manslaughter and faces up to four years in prison.
It is extremely rare for any cop to receive prison time for their crimes.
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Viewing child porn online is no longer a crime in the state of New York, following a ruling from the New York Court of Appeals on Tuesday.
James D. Kent, a college professor, was indicted on two counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child and 141 counts of possessing a sexual performance by a child, convicted and sentenced to prison in 2009. The appeals court dismissed one of the counts of promotion and one count of possession, but supported the other convictions.
The court’s decision hinged on the fact that the images were not downloaded, only viewed. The court ruled that it cannot prove possession of an image that was automatically stored in the computer’s cache without the owner of the computer’s consent.
Tens of thousands of images of prepubescent girls around the age of eight or nine were found in folders on Kent’s hard drive. Kent denies his guilt, and has argued that someone else at Marist must have placed the images on his computer.
They were found on his hard drive by an IT employee when Kent complained that his office computer was too slow. Kent teaches business administration at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.
But some of the images were not downloaded by Kent; they were viewed online and stored as a file in his browser’s cache.
“Merely viewing Web images of child pornography does not, absent other proof, constitute either possession or procurement within the meaning of our Penal Law,” Senior Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick wrote for a majority of four of the six judges.
“Rather, some affirmative act is required (printing, saving, downloading, etc.) to show that defendant in fact exercised dominion and control over the images that were on his screen,” Ciparick wrote.
The judges made it clear that they condemn child pornography, but Ciparick wrote that it was not up to the courts to “criminalize all use of child pornography to the maximum extent possible.” That, he wrote, is up to the legislature.
As the law stands, viewing an image online is not the same as possession, and thus not illegal.
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A new video shows Anastacio Hernadez-Rojas lying on the ground in the fetal position, circled by at least a dozen federal agents as one repeatedly shocks him with an electric stun gun.
The video was shot by a passer-by and was obtained by the lawyer for the Hernandez-Rojas family as they push on with their wrongful death suit against the US government.
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) aired the video and an interview with the woman who shot it as part of a new documentary. In May 2010, Seattle resident Ashley Young was crossing a bridge from Mexico to the United States. In the “Need to Know” report, Young said that she saw the man lying on the ground was handcuffed. She said she did not witness any evidence of Hernandez-Rojas lashing out at the agents, but they are clearly heard yelling in the video for him to stop resisting. He was then tasered five times while calling for help in Spanish.
She also said that a small crowd had gathered on the bridge and some yelled for the agents to stop. But the officers came along to tell the onlookers to keep walking. One officer demanded that witnesses hand over their cell phones or delete the video they had taken, she said, but she kept walking. Young told PBS she “felt like she watched someone be murdered.”
Anastacio Hernadez-Rojas’ death was ruled a ‘homicide’ by the San Diego medical examiner and was investigated by police, yet no border control agents were charged for their part in the incident.
This will undoubtedly create even more tension, as public outcry about the case has been gaining momentum for two years. It raised serious questions about border agents and what they can potentially do without facing the repercussions of their actions.
The PBS documentary was attempting to draw attention to whether border control has been using excessive force on illegal immigrants after eight people were killed along the border in the past two years.
Employees of the US military contracting group are seen in new leaked video shooting their machine guns at random citizens while driving through the streets of Baghdad.
Check out the new video from Rude Awakening.
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Thousands of US soldiers are going into battle fueled by all sorts of prescription medications, be they amphetamines, antidepressants, sedatives or others. Largely unmonitored consumption of drugs can lead to aberrant behavior and mental disorders.
Over 110,000 American service personnel took prescribed medications in 2011 to battle through everyday military routine.
The Times recently disclosed that nearly 8 per cent of active-duty American servicemen and women take sedatives and over 6 per cent are on antidepressants, a tremendous eightfold increase since 2005, when two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were in full swing.
Routine military service, combat stress, and sometimes lack of sleep force American troops to go to work medicated. It mirrors the general situation in American society that uses prescription drugs on a daily basis at levels unseen before.
In the Army, though, those who opt to modulate their lives with drugs are facing challenges of a non-civil nature that supposes an absolutely different level of responsibility. These men and women are well-armed, after all.
As a rule, troops are sent to deployment with 180-day medication supply. But soldiers can always trade favorite pills with their friends. The habit of ending a hard day with a handful of various tablets is apparently nothing extraordinary.
“We have never medicated our troops to the extent we are doing now…. And I don’t believe the current increase in suicides and homicides in the military is a coincidence,” said Bart Billings, a former military psychologist who hosts an annual conference on combat stress, informed The Los Angeles Times.
Painkillers of narcotic nature pose a threat of addiction to those injured who have to take them, too.
One could only guess whether the suicide rate surge in the US Army in the recent decade has any connections with army psychologists prescribing pills to personnel left, right and center. An appalling 80 per cent increase in suicides among US service personnel has been registered between 2004 and 2008.
On the other hand, when every 10th US serviceman deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, there must be a calculated risk in prescribing these medications to keep soldiers in service.
But the main problem among deployed troops remains mental fatigue of those who have been deployed several times in a row. As many as 80 per cent of on-duty personnel have gone through three or more deployments. Worn-out personnel have problems with sleep and accurate assessment of ongoing events.
The recent notorious case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of murdering 17 civilians in a bloody rampage in Afghanistan, again raised the question of drug-related incidents in the US military.
After it was announced the defendant does not remember what he did, his attorneys requested a list of the medication the soldier was taking during his deployment in Afghanistan.