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Fullerton homeless man beaten – did the cops go too far?

A still frame from the video of police beating Kelly Thomas.
friendsforfullerton/YouTube (cc by-nc-nd)
A still frame from the video of police beating Kelly Thomas.

In early July, a homeless man named Kelly Thomas, who suffered from schizophrenia, died after receiving a brutal beating from several Fullerton policemen. The cops were responding to a report of a person breaking into cars in the area, who reportedly matched Thomas’s description. When police found Thomas at a bus depot, he tried to run. According to eye witnesses the police Tased him multiple times, kicked him and beat him with a flashlight as he repeatedly called out for his dad. Several people pulled out their smart phones and taped the event. Now those chilling videos are coming out, but most are dark and grainy and don’t show the beating itself. There are apparently more detailed videos, which some Fullerton council members want released. But the Fullerton district attorney’s office has refused, citing concerns about tainting witnesses should this go to trial. In pictures taken at the hospital after the incident, Thomas’s face appeared badly swollen, bloodied and almost unrecognizable. He died five days later. One of the officers was placed on administrative leave shortly after the altercation. Five more were reassigned to non-patrol duty. But yesterday, they too were placed on administrative leave. Residents of Fullerton reacted with outrage at a raucous council meeting late Tuesday. The Fullerton Police Department has said it’s fully cooperating with an investigation. The FBI has also launched its own probe. We'll get the latest details.

In early July, a homeless man named Kelly Thomas, who suffered from schizophrenia, died after receiving a brutal beating from several Fullerton policemen. The cops were responding to a report of a person breaking into cars in the area, who reportedly matched Thomas’s description. When police found Thomas at a bus depot, he tried to run. According to eye witnesses the police Tased him multiple times, kicked him and beat him with a flashlight as he repeatedly called out for his dad. Several people pulled out their smart phones and taped the event. Now those chilling videos are coming out, but most are dark and grainy and don’t show the beating itself. There are apparently more detailed videos, which some Fullerton council members want released. But the Fullerton district attorney’s office has refused, citing concerns about tainting witnesses should this go to trial. In pictures taken at the hospital after the incident, Thomas’s face appeared badly swollen, bloodied and almost unrecognizable. He died five days later. One of the officers was placed on administrative leave shortly after the altercation. Five more were reassigned to non-patrol duty. But yesterday, they too were placed on administrative leave. Residents of Fullerton reacted with outrage at a raucous council meeting late Tuesday. The Fullerton Police Department has said it’s fully cooperating with an investigation. The FBI has also launched its own probe. We'll get the latest details.

Guest:

Lou Ponsi, Reporter, The Orange County Register

Frank Stoltze, Reporter, KPCC

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