Here is another roundup of some of the most thought-provoking reader comments of the week. Click on each topic’s headline to see the article in question. Comments are selected by our editors and subject to editing for grammar, spelling, clarity and length.
Bottom line: Kelly gives his name at around 4:00 in the video to the officer [Manuel] Ramos. So why do they continue to question and intimidate him? They said all they needed was his name. They got it, so why did it have to end in the death of a mentally ill man?
— Minimon / May 10
This is so disgusting. I could not even watch past 23 minutes or so.
The police in Orange County must learn to recognize the difference between persons experiencing mental illness and those on drugs. Persons with schizophrenia can be very strong and can appear to be taking drugs. The officers really didn’t even give him a chance from the initial encounter. They do not know how to approach these people.
I am a member of National Alliance on Mental Illness in Clackamas County, Oregon, and we offer to all the police and sherriffs crises intervention training, which helps them to learn how to read, approach and deal with people who experience mental illness. We have very few occurrences now that blossom as this one did.
Please, someone in power take control of this situation. Call NAMI there or our Clackamas County office in Oregon to get this rolling.
My dad was a policeman and sherriff here and in other states and even without training would not have treated a person like this nor let it go this far. Shame, shame on all of you.
— Pms23 / May 9
That’s California. In Portland, Oregon, cops did the same and nothing was done to them. Here cops are above all laws.
— Elliottworks / May 9
Elliotworks, the only reason these lowlifes are on trial here is because it was all caught on video and audio and the citizens put up a huge stink to get the DA to do his job. Also, Kelly Thomas’ dad photographed his face while he was on his deathbed and sent it viral all over the Internet. The camera never lies.
Otherwise these cops would have walked. Trust me on that. The perfect storm for the cops came together in this case. Had one element been missing, these cops would still be patrolling the streets.
— Beelzebub / May 9
To the other four officers who were there: You should be ashamed of yourselves. You watched this man cry for his father to help him as the life was squeezed out of him. And you did nothing to stop this.
Go home and look at your kids and remember his last cries, “Daddy, help me!” And then go look at yourself in the mirror.
Law enforcement should all wear video headsets, and it should be made a crime to tamper with or shut off that headset during your shift. It would protect citizens from animals like this and also aid in the prosecution of cases.
— Disgusted Citizen / May 8
I am guardian of a mentally ill person like this and a proponent of Laura’s Law, and I go to National Alliance on Mental Illness as well as other meetings continuously.
I see something very different than most of you.
It is human nature to want to blame someone for the end result of an incident. But how many of you were there? And can you listen closely to what the individuals are saying and can you see clearly what is happening?
What I see is a mentally disturbed person who is not obeying the police orders to place hands and feet in a protective state. Kelly doesn’t obey. Why? He can’t process the requests. Why do the police want him to do this? Because to assess the situation they need to make sure the person can’t reach for a weapon. Do mentally ill people have weapons? Was that a possibility? Yes, absolutely. Would Kelly have used one? I don’t know, you don’t know, the police couldn’t know.
We can armchair quarterback this all we want. The bottom line is that the police were called for a reason. The police weren’t doing this for pleasure. They wanted him to cooperate so he could be on his way. But a mentally ill person who doesn’t cooperate can be a danger.
I see much of the video showing the police trying to get cooperation. Kelly gives them many red flags. We can’t assess the danger or the moves Kelly may have made.
The nature of the illness causes the original dispatch, the nature of the illness prevents the cooperation, the nature of the illness puts everyone in the twilight zone, and the nature of the illness takes something that can start out harmless but become disastrous.
Those of us who take care of these types of people take many classes to learn how to diffuse situations. Even with this training, our lives are in danger, because that is the nature of mental illness.
I am not saying what happened was right or wrong. I am saying that we need to blame the illness, not the family or the police. The fatality is dreadful, but it was the mental illness that is to blame for starting the scenario that ended in his death.
I am all for educating the police more as well as the family, but it is so harmful to armchair quarterback these incidents and point fingers.
— Magwil / May 10
Though it may be attention-getting, the Voice of OC’s use of the word “coup” and the words “tightens her grip” to describe what is happening with this public agency is unfortunate.
For the first time in its history, a board has been seated that will be more collaborative, transparent and accountable to stakeholders committed to its programs and to taxpayers. We only have to look at the records of similar boards of CalO-like agencies serving nearby counties to see what the potential and promise of this reformation holds for the medically vulnerable population residing in OC.
Supervisor [Janet] Ngyuen and her colleagues on the Board of Supervisors should be applauded for leading this transformation. Having said that, everyone, past and present, who has served and does serve on this board deserve our heartfelt thanks, because the agency they oversee literally affects the lives and health status of thousands of human beings.
This agency serves a purpose larger than any one individual and as such needs to focus on moving forward. New DNA has been added to the CalO board. Now we need to let that board govern, starting with the recruitment of an executive team to manage the agency. What can possibly be more important than that?
— JLottSr / May 9
JLottSr makes quite a slam to all those individuals who had volunteered to serve on CalOptima’s board over the years with his remark, “For the first time in history a board has been seated that will be more collaborative, transparent, and accountable …”
They must have been doing something right to raise CalOptima to national recognition for its program. If you look at the roster of past and present board members, there are significantly experienced people of high reputation and integrity. People talk about transforming the organization, but if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
While I’m sure that like all public agencies it had its aches and pains, [CalOptima Vice Chair Jim] McAleer is quoted that he “has yet to see those significant issues come to light” that Supervisor Nguyen has been waving her banner about. It’s unfortunate that it seems to be falling prey to the typical political jockeying for power and influence, using smokescreens and anonymous accusations.
There has been a major exodus of some quality people, both staff and board, and some people want to characterize it as somehow cleaning house. But it seems to be more similar to a bully in the schoolyard. Good people tend to exit the schoolyard rather than be hassled.
— Boldgold / May 9
Where does Lott get this @#$%? How is it that CalOptima can be recognized as a national leader in managed care and earn high ratings for its programs if it has never been transparent, accountable or committed? How is it that every one of the executives who fled the Nguyen/Hospital Association of Southern California rein of terror has been snapped up by competitors, consulting firms or government if they were so bad at running the organization?
Lott just makes this stuff up in the hopes some naive fool will believe him.
— DocC / May 9
CalOptima will end up being a disaster zone. Anything Nguyen and the supes touch turns to manure. I can’t count all the scandals in the last five years on both my hands. Take cover. By the time this train runs off the side of the cliff, a brand new Board of Supervisors will be seated, and they will tell us that it’s not their fault.
We’ve seen this movie dozens of times. Why wouldn’t you be able to know how it ends in advance?
— Beelzebub / May 9
It is time that the current manipulation of the CalOptima board stops in order to actually focus on the purpose of CalOptima, which is to serve 420,000 beneficiaries whose lives depend upon their receipt of proper health care — care that prevents costly illness and saves tax payer dollars.
The CalOptima board does not exist in order to obtain higher rates for providers who serve as board members. At least one-third of the board membership should consist of consumer beneficiaries or their legally authorized representatives. Board appointments should be made through a clearly defined and open process that selects people based upon their qualifications, not their ability to support the political ambitions of any member who clearly has conflicts of interest.
Until such time as the basic conduct of the CalOptima board and our own Board of Supervisors is ethical and consistent with the mission of CalOptima, it is unlikely that highly qualified professionals will put their hats in the ring for the position of CEO. Nor can there be any hope that such a person will be selected by a group of people who appear incapable of doing what is right.
— Roslyn / May 8
The staff report says it “unfairly” affects Santa Ana council candidates running for state or other elected office. That’s ridiculous. It does happen to affect those council members who disregard the commitment they made when elected and try to run for another office instead of serving the full four years they obligated themselves to. But that certainly doesn’t make it unfair.
The existing ordinance is a necessary protection for the constituents. Otherwise a council member could open a new campaign fund the day after being elected and just start raking in gifts, campaign contributions and other money from developers and special interests in the city.
They would then be free to vote on City Council agenda items concerning those they received all that income from. All they would have to do is make sure they are funneling the money into another office account instead of a City Council campaign account. It’s a pretty nice scam.
Instead of changing the rules and lowering the ethical bar here, how about the council members make a commitment to the public to make sure the playing field is level by simply not accepting any money or gifts from people with business before the City Council?
Otherwise it could easily be proved that this City Council places a higher priority on making sure it has access to developer and special interest cash than in doing the public’s business in an ethical, honest and equal manner.
— Al Simmons / May 5
Let’s see how the so-called “progressive” City Council handles this.
If they vote to revoke the rule, they are voting to make the city a more pay-to-play city than it already is. I hope the public cry will make them think otherwise.
— Tefere / May 4
Editor’s note: On May 7, the Santa Ana City Council referred the matter to its ethics committee.