Monday, May 7, 2012

When In Doubt, Blame The Doctor


There is a sensational trial underway in Orange County, CA. It regards the beating death of a homeless man named Kelly Thomas by two Fullerton police officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli. Mr. Thomas was confronted by Officer Ramos at a bus depot. The incident quickly turned violent with the victim being punched, kicked, Tasered, and pistol whipped with the end of a Taser gun by the police. The episode was caught by a security camera at the bus station.

The victim can be heard pleading, "I am sorry dude. I can't breathe dude." The sounds and images of the violence were so graphic that the presiding judge had to stop the video when several court attendants had to leave the room. He can finally be heard crying, "Dad, they are killing me." After it was over, the victim was taken to St. Jude Medical Center where doctors initially had difficulty intubating his airway. Mr. Kelly died five days later. The coroner's report lists the cause of death as "mechanical compression of the thorax" or his trachea was crushed.

Now we get to the part about the clever, clever lawyers. Officer Ramos's attorney, John Barnett, questioned expert witness Michael Lekawa, M.D., U.C. Irvine's surgical trauma chief, about Mr. Kelly's injuries. Is it possible, Mr. Barnett asked Dr. Lekawa, "The cause of death might be the treatment he got at the hospital?" To his credit, Dr. Lekawa allowed that he initially thought the difficult intubation might have played a part leading to his death, until he read the medical reports and saw the videotaped beating.

Do we need any more reasons to dislike lawyers?

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