In the north Orange County city of Fullerton, Calif., six police officers beat and repeatedly Tasered a homeless man named Kelly Thomas. The incident has sparked something rare in the conservative community -- a groundswell of protest and outrage. I've covered various use-of-force and alleged police brutality incidents in OC in the past decade and have never seen outrage at this level. I was talking to one local observer the other day who thought that the public's outrage at police abuse might be tied to the growing outrage at police pensions. It's an interesting theory. A Republican Assemblyman told me that the case and its coverage on a Los Angeles conservative talk show suggests that conservatives are more apt to see police abuse as an abuse of their rights and may no longer be as reflexively pro law-and-order as they have been in the past. A Republican former Assemblyman who is closely allied with police unions and had worked as a prosecutor told me that juries are far less instinctively willing to believe police than they used to be. Whatever the cause, anecdotal evidence suggests changing attitudes about law enforcement and their unions.
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