FULLERTON – A man suspected of trying to burglarized cars remains hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after police say he fought with officers trying to search him.
Authorities say Kelly Thomas, 37, injured several officers who tried to detain him Tuesday night, while family members allege that police used excessive force in taking him into custody.
About 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, officers went to investigate reports of a man trying to burglarize cars in a parking lot next to the bus deport in the 100 block of South Pomona Avenue, Fullerton police Sgt. Andrew Goodrich said.
Officers spotted a shirtless man with a beard, shorts and a backpack who they suspected of being involved in the attempted burglaries, Goodrich said.
The man began to fight officers as they tried to search him, Goodrich said.
“We don’t know why he was so combative and resistant to the officers, but it took upwards of five to six officers to subdue him,” Goodrich said.
During the scuffle, Thomas suffered head and neck injuries and was taken to a hospital, where he was listed in critical condition, Goodrich said.
Two officers suffered moderate injuries during the fight, including broken bones. They were treated at a hospital and released.
It was unclear if the officers used non-lethal weapons to subdue Thomas.
“According to his family, he has a history of mental illness,” Goodrich said, adding that he is a transient in Fullerton and surrounding cities.
Ron Thomas, Kelly Thomas’ father, said his son was homeless by choice and had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
“When (police) rolled up, he was by a vehicle. They wanted to search his backpack, and he turned on them,” Ron Thomas said.
Thomas contended that his son’s injuries were the result of an “extreme use of force” by officers, who he believes “slammed” his son’s head and face into the ground. Based on his son’s injuries, Ron Thomas believes officers “took his legs out from under him while pushing him downward.”
“They have all the training, they have the weapons, they have the Tasers, and he is 160 pounds, barehanded,” Thomas said.
Thomas is on life-support, his father said, with doctors telling the family that he likely suffered brain damage.
“I can understand why a father would say that, but we are going to do a thorough investigation,” Goodrich said of Thomas’ comments. “Some of our officers also went to the hospital due to injuries they suffered. Sometimes when we take people into custody who don’t want to go into custody, we have to use force. It is never the preferred way of doing things.”
Goodrich said police are conducting a criminal investigation into the attempted burglaries, as well as an internal investigation into the officers’ actions.
“It’s always unfortunate when someone is injured, and we do what we can to minimize injuries whenever possible,” Goodrich said.
So did Goodrich ever suffer any consequences for all this unadulterated bullshit? Of course not, for this is Fullerton government where there is no accountability for malfeasance, and nobody in officialdom finds it objectionable that the official City spokesman has not even a passing familiarity with the truth. Of course it could be argued that Goodrich was just a useful idiot in the service of a cover up of an event about which he was largely misinformed by his fellow union members or their (and his superiors)
Either way the whole thing stinks. And any way you slice it looks like a cover up.