FULLERTON – A 37-year-old man who suffered head and neck injuries was taken off life support five days after police say he fought with officers trying to search him.Ron Thomas likely knows a bit about what brutal beatings look like, being former law enforcement. Of course, I am not expecting him to be completely objective under the circumstances. Could you? But the bigger issue here is that the streets are filled with homeless mentally ill people who our society, in its respect for their "courageous, independent lifestyle" (as a federal judge once characterized a mentally ill person living on the streets of New York City in squalor) has thrown away. Sometimes a confrontation develops like this, and under the best of conditions, it is going to end very, very badly.
Kelly Thomas, who was homeless and suffered from schizophrenia, died Sunday afternoon at UCI Medical Center in Orange, his father, Ron Thomas, said.
"It was a brutal beating," said Thomas, a former Orange County sheriff's deputy. "My son's injuries were more indicative of someone using techniques to take someone out, to kill them immediately."
UPDATE: A reader points out that it can take a lot of people to subdue someone if the goal is to minimize injuries to the subject and to the police. That's certainly true. If you shoot someone, that usually subdues them just fine. But that's not what a police officer is supposed to do. As it happened, the result was about the same in this case. As I said: this did not need to happen, if the mental health system were operating in a sensible manner.