Kelly Thomas, Homeless Schizophrenic, Beaten to Death by Fullerton, CA Police… Victim’s Ex-Cop Father Calls it “Cold-Blooded Murder”
Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic, was brutally beaten to death by Fullerton, California police earlier this month.
According to the Orange County Register, Fullerton police were responding to reports of a “homeless-looking man” who may have been attempting to burglarize cars near a bus depot in the southern California city on July 5. Officers spotted Thomas, who fit the description, and attempted to search him.
The mentally ill 37-year-old resisted the search. According to witnesses, officers struck him on the back of a leg with a baton and Tasered him. The suspect attempted to flee, but two officers caught him. Although Thomas wasn’t moving, officers still beat him with flashlights and Tasered him again.
“They kept beating him and Tasering him. I could hear zapping, and he wasn’t even moving,” witness Mark Turgeon told ABC 7. “He had one arm in front of him like this, he wasn’t resisting. And they kept telling him, ‘He’s resisting, quit resisting,’ and he wasn’t resisting.”
In an eyewitness video of the beating (posted below), Thomas is heard crying for his father while being Tasered.
The badly beaten man was rushed to UCI Medical Center in Orange, suffering from head and neck injuries. He was so severely battered that he was placed on life support. He died five days later, on July 10.
The victim’s father, former Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Thomas, told reporters that after seeing how badly his son was beaten and interviewing witnesses, he concluded that Kelly “was brutally beaten to death.”
“When I first walked into the hospital, I looked at what his mother described as my son… I didn’t recognize him,” he said. “This is cold-blooded, aggravated murder.”
“There is no explanation for it,” he added. “I call it rogue bad cops, not the Fullerton Police Department. There is no justification for beating someone to death.”
Ron Thomas added that his son probably stopped taking his schizophrenia medication at the time of the deadly police encounter.
According to Gawker, some who knew Kelly Thomas described him as “very quiet and polite,” “gentle and a childlike,” “sweet,” and “never a threat.” He did, however, plead guilty to assault with a deadly weapon– 16 years ago.
Witnesses are being asked to call investigator Stan Berry of the Orange County District Attorney’s office at (714) 347-8813.
In the video below, an ABC 7 reporter claims officers suffered “broken bones” while subduing and apprehending Thomas. That is not true; according to the Fullertonian, Fullerton Police Sergeant Andrew Goodrich confirmed there were no broken bones, only “soft tissue damage…” in other words, bruises.
UPDATE: On September 21, 2011, two Fullerton police officers were charged in the death of Kelly Thomas: Manuel Ramos was charged with second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter; Jay Cicinelli was charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force. According to the Los Angeles Times, a police audio recording from Officer Ramos himself revealed that at the beginning of the fatal encounter, Ramos told Thomas: “See my fists? They’re getting ready to fuck you up.”
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