Kelly Thomas.

Since I’ve started thinking seriously (as a grown-up adult, not a child) about criminal justice issues, I’ve maintained certain positions.

One of those positions is that the verdict of a jury deserves a certain amount of deference. Yes, I may disagree with the verdict the jury returns. But: they were there in the courtroom. I was not. They watched all the testimony in person. I did not. They were able to see subtle cues of tone and inflection. I was not. At best, what I am basing my judgment on is what I read in the newspaper or saw on TV. These things are subject to conscious and unconscious bias, as well as errors and omissions. How can I question the verdict a jury returns without all the information they had access to? George Zimmerman or OJ Simpson, I’ve always thought the jury should be respected.

But I’m having trouble reconciling that with the acquittals of Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli in the beating death of Kelly Thomas. (Previously. Also previously and graphic image warning.)

How does a jury return a verdict that says hitting a man in the face twenty times with a Taser is okay? How does a jury return a verdict that says telling a man “See these fists? They’re getting ready to [expletive] you up.” and then beating him until he can’t breathe and his blood is pooling on the sidewalk is not, at the very least, involuntary manslaughter? What evidence did they see that we did not?

And is it a compromise of my principles that I’m hoping the Justice Department indicts Ramos and Cicinelli?

Fiat justitia ruat caelum. But what is justice in this case?

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