The jury was selected. Opening statements were scheduled for this morning. However, the City of Fullerton, California reached a settlement, agreeing to pay $4.9 million in the wrongful death lawsuit.
On July 5, 2011, 37-year old Kelly Thomas was living on the streets of Fullerton. Kelly was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
“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. “Now you see my fists?” Fullerton police officer Manny Ramos asked Thomas while slipping on a pair of latex gloves. “Yeah, what about them?” Thomas responded. “They are getting ready to fuck you up,” said Ramos. 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. He audibly responds “Okay, I’m sorry!” and “I’m trying!” while the officers stretch his arm back. The police officers claim that, unable to get Thomas to comply with the requests, they used a taser on him (up to five times- to his scrotum as well, according to a witness statement, and the video footage), 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. One of the paramedics testified that he was first instructed to attend to a police officer’s minor injury and then noticed Thomas lying unconscious in a pool of blood.”
Tony Rackauckas, the Orange County District Attorney, provided evidence that Thomas did comply with orders from Officer Ramos. A month after Kelly was beaten, six officers were placed on administrative leave. The Fullerton City Council called for the resignation of police Chief Michael Sellers. Sellers was subsequently placed on medical leave in August 2011. He resigned February 18, 2012.