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Police Kill Again in Fullerton, CA

By David Pulido

FPD body cam footage from the night they murdered Alejandro Campos Rios.

Fullerton, CA – On March 6, Fullerton Police Department (FPD) killed Alejandro Campos Rios with bean bag projectiles and a taser. Age 50 and homeless, Rios was dancing and apparently under the influence but not posing any threat. One officer fired a taser while another shot five bean bag shotgun rounds at Rios, who collapsed bleeding and clutching his body. Rios was pronounced dead after arriving at a hospital.

FPD has not released the names of the officers who killed Rios, who were put on administrative leave but returned to work later that week. A member of Community Service Organization Orange County (CSO OC) submitted a Public Records Request on March 20. In response, FPD said they would give a Community Briefing within 45 days of the incident, but that there were “numerous delay provisions” for the release of the officers’ names. Their names have still not been released.

Meanwhile, on March 25, FPD shot and killed Scott William Thompson outside a Wells Fargo bank. Thompson, age 57, allegedly demanded money from the bank and threatened to detonate a bomb if his demands weren’t met. Police killed Thompson when he left the bank. The bomb turned out to be a harmless replica and Thompson was unarmed.

These back-to-back killings and lack of accountability for the officers is unsurprising given that FPD has killed several people in the last several years with no consequences for the killer cops.

Just four years ago, on May 27, 2020 FPD killed 34 year old Hector Hernandez on his front lawn. His hands were raised and empty, and he was following officer commands when Corporal Jonathan Ferrell sicced his K9 on Hernandez. Groaning in pain, Hernandez defended himself with a knife from his pocket, and Ferrell shot Hernandez twice. The city of Fullerton paid $8.6 million to Hernandez’s family in a settlement, but OC District Attorney Todd Spitzer refused to file criminal charges against Ferrell.

On July 5th, 2011, FPD killed Kelly Thomas, who was homeless and struggling with mental illness. He was unresponsive to officers but showed no aggression. Two officers struck Thomas with batons, four officers pinning him down. He was tasered and bludgeoned by officers Jay Cicinelli, Joseph Wolfe and Manuel Ramos. Thomas died five days later at a hospital. The City of Fullerton paid $4.9 million to Thomas’s parents in settlements. While officers were charged, Ramos and Cicinelli were found not guilty on all charges, and charges against Wolfe were dropped.

The ACLU found that of the 142 police shootings in Orange County from 2010-2020, the District Attorney declined to charge officers in all cases, 24 of those cases under Spitzer.

This pattern of police killings with no accountability shows why we need community control of the police in Orange County. Chicano, African American, and other oppressed nationality lives will continue to be lost without it. We need the power to decide what happens to killer cops, the power to approve or deny policing policies that will impact their neighborhoods, the power to decide how much of their money goes to policing and more. CSO OC is a Chicana-led local grassroots organization that fights for peoples’ demands and control over killer cops. If you are interested in joining CSO OC, reach out to [email protected] or @cso.oc on social media.

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