Coverage of the trial involving two ex-police officers charged in the death of a homeless man

Police Watched Video of Kelly Beating Before Writing Reports

By Scott Weber
|  Thursday, Sep 22, 2011  |  Updated 11:51 AM PDT
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Kelly Thomas Case

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Fullerton police involved in a deadly altercation with a homeless man were allowed to watch a video of the incident before writing their report, Fullerton's acting police chief said Thursday.

Kelly Thomas was severely beaten in an altercation with Fullerton Police July 5 and died five days later. More: Timeline of Events

Supervisors allowed the review of the footage so that the officers would have a chance to refresh their memory and write a more accurate account of the incident, according to remarks by acting Chief Kevin Hamilton published in the Los Angeles Times.

NBC LA legal analyst Royal Oakes said the practice is highly unusual with serious use-of-force cases.

"It allows officers to tailor their comments to what they see on the video instead of what actually happened," Oakes said. "It allows them to reinvent the truth."

"You prepare notes at the scene, report from the notes, you don't wait until you see a video an extended time later," Oakes said. "It undermines the public's confidence in whether there's an open and fair investigation into what's happened."

LAPD's practice is not to allow officers to review videos unless authorized by internal affairs, but the department allows an exception for footage from in-car video cameras, according to The Times. Hamilton said there was no hidden agenda in allowing the officers to see what the video showed. 

The six officers involved in Thomas' arrest have been placed on administrative leave.

On Thursday, the family of Kelly Thomas filed a claim -- a precursor to a lawsuit -- against the city. The claim alleges excessive force.

The Fullerton City Council was scheduled to meet in a special session Friday to consider hiring consultant Michael Gennaco to conduct an independent review of the incident. 

Follow NBCLA for the latest LA news, events and entertainment: Twitter: @NBCLA // Facebook: NBCLA

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