Hundreds packed City Hall Tuesday night to express their anger on the beating death of Kelly Thomas by Fullerton police officers.
Investigators are currently determining whether six police officers of beat Thomas, a homeless man diagnosed with schizophrenia, at the bus depot near Fullerton train station on July 5. He died five days later.
Before last night’s Council meeting, all six officers were placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.
Despite the explanation from the City Attorney Richard D. Jones about the investigation process and that the City Council—not Fullerton Police Chief Michael Sellers—has the power to discipline the six officers; many who spoke did not buy into their explanations and demanded action from city officials.
“You need to stop looking like you don’t know what’s going because you know damn well know what’s going on!” said Christine Walker, a lifelong resident of Fullerton. “We are going to fight until we justice here in Fullerton.”
Ron Thomas, Kelly’s father, told the council that he doesn’t have sympathy over what city officials and said the citizens of Fullerton have suffered enough.
“Listen to my son beg those officers ‘Please, please God. I’m sorry, I’m sorry!’ and the last words of his life ‘Dad! Dad!” he said to the Council referring to the videos released on the web. “I want you to hear that for the rest of your life like I did.”
Ron wanted the City to release the 911 tapes and the video from city cameras from the night of the beating.
“If I were committing a crime, the tapes would have been released that day,” he said. “We want to hear the 911 tape.”
He added that while he appreciated that the officers involved were out of the streets, he wanted more than just taking them out.
“I’d really appreciate the fact that they would be suspended without pay, pending further investigation,” he said.
After Ron made his statements despite Mayor F. Richard Jones’s interruption due to his insistence on protocol, some in the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Mayor Jones commented after Ron spoke and said that he was also looking for justice for Kelly.
Many who spoke also called for the resignation of Chief Sellers, including Colleen Zenger, who said that the beating death of Thomas was part of the “ongoing culture” of corruption in the Fullerton Police Department.
“I think it’s time to clean house,” she said.
Threats of a recall loomed at the meeting, with local businessman and Friends For Fullerton’s Future blog proprietor Tony Bushala targeting Mayor Jones and Council Members Don Bankhead and Pat McKinley.
“The other three that have said nothing [about the Kelly Thomas beating] and sat on their hands, I’ll tell you one thing, within 72 hours from this evening, I will be serving you three with recall papers!” he said with great applause.
Bushala told the Council before he left the podium that he had the money—$130,000—to launch the effort.
After public comment, Council Member Sharon Quirk-Silva wants the city to re-evaluate its relationship with the city’s homeless population as a future agenda item.
“As citizens, we all have an individual responsibility to do more than what we’re doing,” she said.
View more Photos from Ed Carrasco here