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Friday, September 9, 2011

The Fullerton 6: A Death Penalty Case--Published at Fullerton'sFuture.org

September 8, 2011
By Mark Cabaniss, an attorney who has worked as both a prosecutor and as a public defender.

Mark has written several interesting pieces on the Kelly Thomas case over at GreaterLongBeach.com and CalWatchDog.com.

Reportedly, the Orange County DA is waiting for the coroner’s report before deciding whether to file charges against the six Fullerton police in the beating death of Kelly Thomas. As the medical evidence comes in, it looks increasingly likely that charges will be filed. But will the charges, if they are brought, be minimal, or will they be serious? Will they be the most serious charges warranted by the evidence? We don’t know. What we do know is that Kelly Thomas died after six Fullerton police severely beat him. The DA is still waiting for the official cause of death to be determined, but for the sake of this article, I am going to assume that the death came about as a result of the beating. Now let us make two further assumptions:
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Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents"

"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern." —Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006. An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko. What does this map mean? How to use this map View Original Map and Database

Key

Death of an innocent. Death or injury of a police officer. Death of a nonviolent offender.
Raid on an innocent suspect. Other examples of paramilitary police excess. Unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people.
The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of "no-knock" or "quick-knock" raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt -- it's difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night. But even more disturbing are the number of times such "wrong door" raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map above aims to refute that notion.

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