Note: I have a serious problem with the reporters calling what happened to Kelly Thomas a “fatal fight”…..this was no fight, to be sure, this was MURDER.
By SEAN EMERY, LOU PONSI, and DOUG IRVING
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
The FBI will investigate the death of a homeless man fatally injured during a fight with Fullerton police, authorities confirmed Friday, as the police chief temporarily took the officers involved in the confrontation off street duty.
A day after Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson sent a letter to the Department of Justice’s civil-rights division requesting a federal inquiry into the “facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Kelly Thomas at the hands of the Fullerton Police Department,” FBI officials confirmed that they have opened an investigation.
Thomas, 37, a homeless man with mental issues known to frequent downtown Fullerton, died several days after a confrontation with six police officers.
One of the officers is now on administrative leave. While the five other officers have since returned to active duty, Fullerton police Chief Michael Sellers on Friday evening temporarily reassigned them away from front-line patrol duties.
“In other words, they are not working the streets,” Fullerton police Sgt. Andrew Goodrich said. “The chief said that for the sake of public trust and confidence, and in the best interest of the investigation, he made these reassignments.”
Officers confronted Thomas on July 5 while investigating reports of a man burglarizing cars near a bus depot. Police say Thomas became violent as two officers tried to search him, kicking off a fight in which six officers were needed to subdue him. Thomas suffered severe head and neck injuries.
Thomas was taken off life support several days after his confrontation with police. An autopsy was inconclusive, with Orange County Coroner’s Office officials saying they need to carry out further tests to determine the cause of Thomas’ death.
Police initially said two officers had broken bones after the fight. The officers were later diagnosed with soft-tissue damage after they were re-examined, Goodrich said.
Thomas’ family members accuse officers of using excessive force during what they described as a “brutal beating.” Ron Thomas, Kelly Thomas’ father, has said police beat his son to death and has circulated a picture of his son’s bruised and bloody face.
The graphic photo, as well as the online posting of a cell-phone video that appears to show the fight, has brought widespread attention to the incident.
In the video, the sound of a Taser can be heard, along with Kelly Thomas screaming and then yelling, “Dad! … Dad! … Dad!”
Continue Reading @ The OC Register