I watched the surveillance video of cops beating a homeless man to death a few miles from where I live. Yeah the guy wasn't answering their questions right away, but was in no way a threat. Tasers were used and cops were holding him down as another cop was beating his face in as the man was crying out for his dad to help him. It was absolutely sickening to watch and they killed him in the process. Before they did this, the man was sitting down and a cop put on latex gloves and said, "Now see my fists? They are getting ready to fuck you up!" Then the beating began. If you have the stomach for it, the homeless man was named Kelly Thomas.
Kelly Thomas, after a fatal beating by officers of the Fullerton, California Police Department
On July 5, 2011, at about 8:30 PM, officers of the Fullerton Police Department responded to a call from the management of the Slidebar that someone was vandalizing cars near the Fullerton Transportation Center. While investigating, they encountered the shirtless and disheveled Thomas and attempted to search him. According to statements given by the officers, Thomas was uncooperative and resisted when they attempted to search him, so backup was called. The officers then repeatedly applied Tasers to Thomas, hit him with the butts of the Tasers and flashlights, and threw him onto the ground. A video of the event surfaced, and Thomas can be heard repeatedly screaming in pain while officers are heard repeatedly asking him to place his arms behind his back. Unable to get Kelly to comply with the requests, the officers used a taser on him (up to five times according to a witness statement), and in the video Thomas can be heard screaming "Dad! Dad!". Six officers were involved in subduing Thomas, who was unarmed and had a history of mental illness. Thomas was initially taken to St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton but was transferred immediately to the UC Irvine Medical Center with severe injuries to his head, face, and neck.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas gave a detailed account of the events during a press conference on September 21, 2011. Using digital audio recording devices carried by the officers, surveillance video from a pole camera at the Fullerton Transportation Center, and other evidence, Rackauckas provided evidence that Thomas did comply with orders from Officer Ramos, who had put on latex gloves and asked Thomas "Now see my fists? They are getting ready to fuck you up." Rackauckas went on to describe how Thomas begged for his life, before being beaten to death.
The story of his beating broke shortly before his death. An investigation into the beating was undertaken by the Orange County district attorney starting on July 7, 2011, and later the FBI became involved. The decision to involve the FBI was praised by the American Civil Liberties Union, which claims the Orange County District Attorney has an "abysmal" record when investigating shootings with police involvement.
Kelly Thomas was removed from life support and died on July 10, 2011, five days after the beating. Initial reports claimed that Thomas had been very combative with officers and two had suffered broken bones. Later, the police department confirmed that no officers had suffered any broken bones, and that no one other than Thomas had any significant injuries. By the end of July, several news outlets had picked up the story and it had become international news.
On July 18, 2011, a large protest outside the Fullerton Police Department was organized by several people, including the victim's father Ron Thomas.
Ron Thomas speaks to the Fullerton City Council and the media.
On August 2, 2011 many members of the public spoke out about the beating at the biweekly city council meeting at the Fullerton City Hall. Over 70 members of the public spoke to the city council, the vast majority of whom criticized the police. Among the speakers was Ron Thomas, the father of Kelly Thomas, as well as Kelly Thomas's stepmother. The public comment session lasted for approximately three hours. The city attorney emphasized that the city council could not respond to the comments, however following the public comment period discussion was given to provide clarification on the city's policy regarding the mentally ill. In addition, Tony Bushala, a local developer and conservative activist, announced plans to recall three members of the city council thought to have responded insufficiently to the beating. The recall qualified on the ballot in February 2012 with a recall election scheduled for Don Bankhead, F. Dick Jones, and Pat McKinley on June 5, 2012, consolidated with the statewide primary election. On June 5, 2012 all three council members were successfully recalled by Fullerton residents.
On Saturday August 6, 2011, a large street protest was held outside of the Fullerton City Hall. Activists at that protest, which was attended by hundreds of people, called for the release of a surveillance video shot by cameras installed at the bus depot and carried signs with slogans like "Jail All Killer Cops" and "End Police Brutality."
In late September 2011, the officers involved were arrested on murder charges. Local law enforcement personnel showed support by raising money for their bail and criminal defense.
Thirty days after the incident all six officers involved in the beating were placed on administrative leave and several people, including two members of the Fullerton City Council, called for the resignation of police Chief Michael Sellers, who was later placed on medical leave in August 2011 for undisclosed reasons. Sellers continued his medical leave for 7 months and resigned on February 18, 2012 having never returned to work. 19,948 people have signed an online petition calling for the firing of all six police officers that were present during the beating.
Fullerton City Councilman Bruce Whitaker later went on television stating his belief that there was a cover-up of the beating of Thomas within the police department and that the six officers involved in the beating falsified their reports on the incident.
A preliminary hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence for a trial was held on May 9, 2012. The court ordered that two of the police officers involved will stand trial. Officer Manuel Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, and Corporal Jay Patrick Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony use of excessive force. Both officers pleaded not guilty at the second arraignment on July 13, 2012. Attempts by the defendants to dismiss the charges have been denied. Trials for Cicinelli and Ramos are scheduled to begin June 28, 2013. In September 2012, Officer Joseph Wolfe was indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force. Wolfe is scheduled for a pre-trial conference on March 29, 2013.
On 16 May 2012, press reports indicated that the Fullerton City Council had agreed to pay Thomas' mother one million dollars as a settlement of her civil complaints against the city. This did not impact the ongoing civil actions by Thomas' father or the criminal trial.