It's Not Like The Movies - Los Angeles Local News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Jeff Michael

It's Not Like The Movies

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My Monday started at 5:30am. A new Fox drama, Gang Related, was shooting in downtown LA and needed a real reporter to play a reporter for them. They called the newsroom. I said, okay. Doing those one-off shoots are fun. You meet actors you've watched in movies or on tv and it's a break from what real anchors and reporters do every day.

I left that shoot to go to the newsroom and straight into the announcement that the jury in the trial of two former Fullerton police officers had reached a verdict. It's come to be called the "Kelly Thomas Beating Trial" after the homeless, mentally ill man who died after a violent arrest. I sat at the desk waiting for the jury to return—much slower than the thirty minute notice given—and I thought about how real justice never moves in sync with cinematic justice. Then the verdicts were read; not guilty on all four counts against the officers. And it struck me not only does the real world bear little resemblance to that on the screen but so many of us base our reaction to outcomes like today's because of the neat and tidy one hour storylines that play out on our favorite shows.

The security video of the swarm of officers on top of Thomas seemed damming. The audio of one defendant telling Thomas, "See these fists?... They're getting ready to --- you up" didn't sound like an officer just following his training. On most tv shows, those two pieces of evidence would have made for a Bad Cops Get Their Due ending. But we've seen, once again, it's not that simple.

There was a lot of traffic on twitter following the verdict; a lot of angry reactions. But on whichever side you land, consider that the 8 women and 4 men who served on that jury did their best. They studied the facts, considered the nuances in police training and in the law and followed the court's instructions before agreeing on a verdict. Consider that while a camera may not lie, its one angle also doesn't always tell the whole story. Consider that while, in my opinion, police officers can always be better trained to spot and manage the mentally ill or the substance abuser, they don't set out one evening to end a life and their careers during a confrontation.

It sounds cliché but as will be said in the next few days—as was already said by the D.A. who lost his case—the justice system did what it is supposed to do. We still have the best justice system in the world. I am sad for Kelly Thomas' family but at the same time I too have to remember that real justice cannot follow a script.

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