14 arrested in protest of Calif. officer acquittal
FULLERTON, California (AP) — A protest over the acquittal of two former California police officers in the beating death of a homeless man turned violent Saturday when someone assaulted a TV camerawoman, resulting in at least 14 arrests, police said.
The protest against Monday’s acquittal of two former Fullerton officers in the 2011 death of Kelly Thomas drew about 200 people, police Sgt. Jeff Stuart said.
He said most of the protesters were peaceful, but some took over intersections, blocked streets and vandalized business.
Video broadcast by KCBS-TV show someone whose face was covered by a bandanna striking the camerawoman. She fled into her news van, and her crew called police when a group surrounded the vehicle, Stuart said.
The attack prompted police to declare the protest an unlawful assembly. Officers in riot gear came to disperse the crowd, and started making arrests, Stuart said.
Initially, police arrested the assault suspect, two others for vandalism for scrawling an obscenity and an anarchist symbol on police property, and 10 others for refusing to follow police orders to disperse.
Stuart said Sunday that a 14th protester was arrested later, after trying to steal from a nearby supermarket. More arrests are possible.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Thomas’ father thanked the demonstrators at a rally in front of the Fullerton Police Department. He said that without their protests in the summer of 2011, his son’s case might not have ended up with a trial at all.
“If you were here for 2011, for the protests,” Ron Thomas said, “give yourself a hand. You are the people, you made this happen.”
Kelly Thomas, 37, died five days after a violent confrontation with six officers in July 2011. A surveillance camera captured him screaming for his father and begging for air as the police officers kneed him, jolted him with an electric stun gun and used the blunt end to strike him around the face and head.