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Still much to do in Fullerton police beating case

September 21, 2011 |  1:41 pm

Kelly Thomas

The district attorney's investigation of the beating death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man with a history of mental illness, came to a dramatic conclusion Wednesday with the filing of a rare murder charge against a Fullerton police officer and involuntary manslaughter charges against him and another officer.

Whatever the legal outcome is of their accusations, the matter is far from closed. What about the four officers involved in the death whose alleged actions -- or lack of action --d id not merit criminal charges? Were they performing up to the minimal standards of the Fullerton Police Department? Should administrative action be taken?

Beyond that, an incident this tragic begs for a wider probe of the Police Department, including an independent commission, much like the Christopher Commission formed in 1991 after the Rodney King beating, to determine whether there are systemic problems within the department. Such a commission would look into whether the officers involved have a history of complaints against them and whether there are "bad apples" within the department that tend toward excessive force.

The City Council should be moving quickly to show leadership on this issue.

RELATED:

Editorial: Seeking answers in Fullerton

Editorial: Fullerton finally gets it in police beating case

Steve Lopez: Kelly Thomas' death should be call to action

Complete Kelly Thomas coverage on L.A. Now

--Karin Klein

Photo: Demonstrators in the Kelly Thomas case deliver their message outside the Orange County district attorney's office in Santa Ana on Wednesday. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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