Baxter reacts to the $4.9 Million payment to the father of Kelly Thomas.




Baxter - Kelly Thomas - Ron Thomas

Baxter – Kelly Thomas – Ron Thomas

(With his permission, the Orange Juice Blog reprints the following from Stefan “Bax” Baxter’s Facebook wall.  Bax was one of the original, most tireless and articulate protesters in the cause of justice for homeless Kelly Thomas’ brutal 2011 murder at the hands of six Fullerton cops, helping to organize many protests as well as art shows on the subject,)

Forgive me the length of this post, but I plan to make these my last comments  ever regarding Kelly Thomas. It’s over.

A great many people have asked me today how I feel about Ron Thomas accepting a $4.9 million dollar settlement from the city of Fullerton for the loss of his son at the hands of Fullerton Police Officers. I answered with whatever came to mind without really thinking, because in truth I did not know how I felt. These were some of my initial responses:

  1. If the city of Fullerton thinks the life of a homeless man is worth 4.9 million dollars why the fuck can’t we build a public restroom for the dozens of homeless that call the transportation center home?
  2. How much do you think his life would have been worth had we never held a protest?
  3. Innocent parties do not hand out 4.9 million dollars.
  4. Too bad the executives at the insurance company, who made this recommendation, were not on the jury at criminal trial, because they sure as hell think these cops are guilty of murder.
  5. Two words: Citizens oversight

kelly1I’ve now had all day to think about this, and the truth is I feel really fucking strange knowing that it’s all over. Knowing that regardless of the payout today, Kelly Thomas, a man I once knew and spent time with, will never see justice in the true sense of that word and I find this nothing other than sad. Today does not change that. A guilty verdict in a civil trial is not justice; it’s too fucking late for justice. That opportunity was lost in the criminal trial, and no amount of money will change the fact that the man who played the biggest role in his murder still walks the streets of Fullerton, hangs out a Joe’s just blocks from the murder scene, and even has the obscene arrogance to coach little league. Any establishment in Fullerton that welcomes Manny Ramos is welcoming a murderer.

Despite all the attention, and all the protests, the fact remains that three of the six officers who beat Kelly that night, are still employed by the City of Fullerton. Andrew Goodrich, the former police spokesperson who slandered Kelly’s name and called him a criminal, who said that his men had been in the fight of their life, who claimed that some of his officers had broken bones, all of which was later admitted to be untrue, is still employed by the city of Fullerton. In fact he has since been promoted. Dan Hughes, who at the time of Kelly’s murder, was in charge of these men as the Patrol Captain, and he is also the captain who allowed these officers to watch the video of the altercation with Kelly Thomas, before writing their report, as if they were scoring a soundtrack to a movie. He too has been promoted and is now our Chief of Police. (he now turns his back on me when I speak at city council. A $292,000 per year man baby)

If these guys were anything other than cops they would have been fired four years ago. If these guys were anything other than cops, knowing that they cost the city 5.9 million dollars (1 million was already paid out to Kathy Thomas, the victim’s mother), it would have driven them to resign. If they have a shred of human decency the three officers involved in this murder, Andrew Goodrich and Dan Hughes will turn in their resignation papers by morning. We know that is not going to happen because the fact is that cops are not held to a higher standard, they are in fact allowed to exist at a lower standard than almost any other profession.

kelly2In great part at least, I lost my job as an executive at a large medical company, because I was distracted by this case and my fight to get Kelly Thomas justice. It seems bloody unfair that some of those who fought just as hard to obstruct justice were allowed to keep theirs.

Here is my final reaction to the 4.9 million dollar settlement. When one of the most brilliant attorneys in the country, someone I have spent some time with, and someone I have the utmost respect for, believes that taking a settlement is a better option than putting the outcome into the hands of a Orange County Jury, and a legal system which already failed us in the criminal case, the acceptance of the settlement by Ron and his attorney is the best condemnation of our justice systems. Despite an unarmed victim, who was slight in stature, the video, the audio, the witnesses, the fact that the victim was well known to the downtown community and public interest, Ron and his attorney know that may have not been enough.

And if that’s not enough, what the fuck is? You see, time and time again OC juries have favored the police over the victims of their violence. Ron and Garo knew that if they did not take this last offer, there may never have been anything. The city knows his son was murdered. The public knows his son was murdered. The insurance company knows his son was murdered, you know his son was murdered … and yet the jury may not have known once the system washed it of its moral compass like it has so many others.. Do you want things to change? Then demand Citizens Oversight on the local level and on the end of the so called “Peace Officers Bill of Rights” POBAR at the state level. Until we have those things nothing much changes. Cops go free, families suffer, more people die. That’s the fact. Live with it or do something about it.

  • Do I wish this would have gone to trial and the public would been allowed to learn more about the actions of all involved on July 5th, 2011? Yes.
  • Can I blame Ron Thomas for accepting a settlement rather than putting his trust in a system that failed him, and us, before? Fuck No. Let’s remember that Kelly cried out for his father that night, not any of us. Ron Thomas lost a son; he gets to decide and I will not judge the victim.

kelly3My fight for the many other families of the innocent, who are unjustly killed or injured at the hands of the police, is not over, neither is my fight to give our local homeless a chance to live dignified lives. But my fight for Kelly Thomas is over. And the truth is I’m feeling pretty fucking beat up. It’s time I moved on.

Love and condolences to Ron, Kathy, Tina and the entire Thomas family. Mass respect to my friends Jesse LaTour and Andy Anderson. Jesse was the first to speak up at a council meeting and ask that they look into the death of this man at the transportation center. Thousands more would soon speak on this topic after Jesse did. Andy was the first to organize a protest outside of the Police station demanding answers and resignations. Thousands more would soon protest at the same location and help start a national movement for police accountability.

(art by John Sollom)

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.