WANTED: Witnesses to the Brutal Beating Death of Kelly Thomas

Kelly Thomas Memorial

I just met with Ron Thomas, father of deceased Kelly Thomas, at the Fullerton Transportation Center. He and his daughter were posting fliers around the Fullerton Sante Fe train depot & OCTA bus terminal in the hopes of talking to witnesses that were present on the night his son was brutally beaten to death.

For all those who care, there is a candlelight vigil tonight at the Fullerton Transportation Center at 7:00 pm.

Ron Thomas did say that the entire deadly beating of his son by six cops was caught on the city’s camera (the same camera that we reported on here two days ago.) Ron also said that the police will not let him look at the video to see what happened to his son.

Kelly Thomas Taken Off Life Support; Is Dead

According to ABC News, Kelly Thomas, who was beaten into a comatose state by Fullerton police last week has been taken off life support, and is dead.

Police claim that they responded to a call that someone was breaking into cars at the Transportation Center. According to police a spokesman “probably” six police officers eventually became involved in what they allege was a combative Thomas. His father, a former County Sheriff’s Deputy, says his son’s head was beaten into an unrecognizable state; other witnesses has said the man was Tasered multiple times.

Will anybody in a position of authority in Fullerton do the right thing and demand a full and independent outside inquiry into this homicide? Don’t hold your breath, Friends.

Is There Video of the Kelly Thomas Beating?

We heard that Tuesday’s beating of a homeless man to near-death by Fullerton police may have been within range of one of the city’s surveillance cameras at the Fullerton Transportation Center…and so we sent our camera man over to check it out:

It looks like the camera had a clear shot of the bloody event. I suppose that if there is a tape, we won’t get to see it unless it exonerates the cops who were involved.

On the other hand, damning evidence will be held tightly by the city so as not to embarrass anyone or facilitate the requisite citizen outrage.

All the public can do is ask and see what happens.

Even so, the last resort in the quest for transparency would lie with our elected councilmembers, who are ultimately responsible for ensuring the safety of the public and can demand to see the recording for themselves.

More Grim FPD News; Homeless Man Beaten Senseless

Armed and dangerous.

And by senseless I mean near-death coma and artificial life-support.

Reader DollarBill shares this link to ABC Eyewitness News detailing the story of a homeless man with a history of mental illness, who, when confronted by “probably” six FPD officers at the Fullerton Transportation Center the other day is alleged to have resisted arrest. 37 year-old Kelly Thomas never made it to jail. After being subdued into a state of unrecognizable unconsciousness he was transported to the hospital where he is on life support.

Witnesses refused to appear on camera but claim to shouted to the cops to stop.

Our old friend police spokesman Andrew Goodrich says there will be an investigation (internal, of course) and that any inappropriate behavior will come out. Uh, yeah sure, Andy, whatever you say.

In the meantime you can bet on two things: the DA will do nothing, and the man’s family, including his dad, an ex-Sheriff Deputy will bring suit against us Fullerton taxpayers.

A Major Problem in Fullerton

Image stolen from the Register who borrowed it from the OC Sheriff Department

Today The OC Register (see Jim, we know how to do it right) did a story on former Fullerton policeman Todd Majors who was busted for credit card fraud and is doing easy time taking out trash at Theo Lacy and going home every night.

Of course we already reported about Majors, here. Kimberly Edds of The Register actually did do some investigation to discover that Major allegedly has an addiction to pills and was hired by the Fullerton Police Department even though he had a drunk driving bust. Supposedly his drug addiction caused him to lurch into a life of crime.

Writes Edds: While internal affairs continued its investigation, Fullerton police asked themselves whether they missed any signs about Major or how they could have done to prevent a good cop from becoming a criminal.

Well, I sure hope they figure that out real soon.

Edds’ story concluded with the obligatory police cry for sympathy for one of their own – as some sort of pathetic victim.

Another Bad Apple Falls From Tree: Fullerton Cop Goes to Jail for Robbing the City

In what appears to be a rising tide of embarrassing news personnel-wise, the Fullerton Police Department has a new case of Bad Cop to explain to the public.

Fullerton police officer Todd Major plead guilty this month to fraudulent use of an access card and felony grand theft of money and property belonging to the City of Fullerton. Major is now serving out his 6 month sentence in the Theo Lacy County Jail with three years of probation to follow.

Todd Major

Major was a sworn police officer at the time of the theft, earning $90,000 a year in the Community Services Bureau. His case was prosecuted by the big boys at the State Attorney General’s office.

The plea deal included the dropping of additional charges indicating that Major also stole from the Fullerton Car Show, two Troy High School administrators,  eleven Fullerton Police Explorers, and the Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons supermarkets.

Read the charges (pdf)

At this time we don’t know what this convicted cop stole or how he stole it. Due to the union’s fierce protection of bad cops, we also aren’t entitled to know if he was fired or how much paid leave he received before he went to jail.

Anyone with more information on these crimes is invited to contact this blog.

FPD Sticky Fingers in Miami: The Case of the Stolen iPad

All sorts of interesting stories have been coming in since we exposed the affirmation of beating and theft allegations against a Fullerton police officer last week. Here’s the first one:

Last month an off-duty Fullerton police officer was allegedly captured on video at a Florida airport making off with an Apple iPad belonging to another passenger while going through a security checkpoint. The officer was supposedly identified on security footage, hunted down just before boarding, arrested and charged with 3rd degree Grand Theft.

In Florida, Grand Theft is a felony punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison.

We’ll sit tight on the officer’s name until we can finish gathering up the details. For now, consider this a warning to iPad owners in Fullerton: hold on to your goods when the Law is nearby.

For all the lavish compensation bestowed upon Fullerton’s Finest, you’d think we’d be able to avoid hiring of such low caliber cops. But the more we look, the more this seems to be par for the course for the FPOA.

An FPD Beating: What Does It Feel Like?

Update here: Fullerton Police Beating Complaint “Sustained” by Internal Investigation; Officer Named.

Here’s a scoop you won’t find in a Fullerton Police Department press release: It’s a detailed account from one college student’s allegations of brutality by Fullerton cops in downtown last year, which he says resulted in an Internal Affairs investigation and one FPD officer being reprimanded for “inappropriate actions.”

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On the night of March 17th, 2010 at approximately 10:10 pm, I was smoking a cigarette outside Heroes Pub in Fullerton, CA. I was approached by some individuals who identified themselves as gang members and referred to me as “faggot” and “pussy.” Apparently, an altercation began after one of them threatened to “fuck me up” and/or “kill my ‘bitch ass’” if I did not “keep walking.”

At this point, all I remember is a half dozen or so Fullerton police officers screaming at me to put my hands behind my back and spread my legs, which I did. I was violently handcuffed, and asked what was going on. None of the officers would answer me, and instructed me to “shut the fuck up.” At this point, one of the officers threw me on the ground and told me to “stop resisting arrest”, which is odd, because I was not at all resisting, and in fact had no idea I was even being arrested (or why.)

After being beaten on the ground and searched, an unknown officer violently tugged me up by the chain that connects the cuffs (which, in my opinion, were on much too tightly – perhaps in an effort to maximize my agony.) I was repeatedly yanked back and forth by the cuffs, which caused tearing and lacerations on my wrists, which was corroborated by my doctor as consistent with someone attempting to injure the wrist and cause pain. Once the officers were done beating me (because according to them, I was “resisting arrest” and “being combative”, which is completely absurd, as I’m a non-violent college student with no rap sheet who hadn’t even had the opportunity to enjoy a beer yet. Might I add I am 5’9 and weigh 160 lbs.)

The broken finger

At this point, an officer picked me up by the cuffs and started to crack my fingers. I screamed in agony “Ouch! Stop! You’re breaking my finger!!”, at which point the officer asked which finger. I instructed the officer it was my left pinky which was in pain, and then the officer proceeded to twist the finger until it broke (again, my physician will provide x-rays and his report upon request.) I screamed that “You broke my finger!” and the officer said something along the lines of “good.”

At another point, I was asked if my right hand was ok, I replied with “Yes.” Then an officer said “not anymore” and attempted to twist my thumb until it broke, and then my right wrist until it broke. He was unsuccessful. I believe I was punched in the back of the head and body while on the ground being arrest, and the video of the incident might prove this. I was punched so many times during the experience that I am unsure when most of the punching by the officers occurred, but it did occur multiple times. I was also hit with a blunt object. It could have been my shoe, which was violently ripped from my foot (as evidenced by the broken double knot that seems to have exploded due to a large degree of force.) Since I was face down on my stomach during most of the beatings and an officer had his boot pressed painfully on my face, I was unable to see a.) Who was hitting me and b.) With what, if any, objects I was being hit with.

I should note that before I was place in the back of officer [name omitted] squad car, I was asked to “Watch my head”, at which point an officer deliberately slammed my head into the side of the car to cause me pain. While in the back of the squad car, I asked repeatedly why I was being arrested and the officer essentially told me to “Shut the fuck up.” I called him “crooked”, among other things, and vowed I would get justice for having my finger broken. The officer driving the squad car then sped up to a high speed, and then slammed on the breaks, causing me to fly forward and slam my face into the grate that separated us. He repeated two more times, and he seemed to be enjoying it, as he had a smile on his face, and appeared to be impressed with himself for further injuring me.

When we arrived at the station, I was beaten again by more officers and I overheard an officer tell one of the jail guards to “take special care of this one, he thinks he’s smart.” I’m assuming this was in reference to me screaming to be charged, mirandized or explained the situation. I want to note that I was never told why I was arrested, and I was not charged until approximately 6:00am. I was never read my Miranda Rights.

I was thrown into a cold, cement cell with no heating. The officers took my shoes, socks and tie and left me to rot without explanation. I repeatedly screamed asking for an attorney, a phone call, an explanation – and was given none of them. I screamed at one of the guards “Where are my rights!?”, to which he smiled and responded, “You have none, pussy.” Throughout the course of the night, one officer in particular  routinely tormented, harassed, and abused me.

I was shivering cold and asked for a blanket and/or pillow at least 20 times. I was denied each time. Every time I asked an officer for an attorney, a phone call, or what my charges were, he said “You just earned yourself two more hours” (implying that I would get to shiver on the freezing cement floor with no blanket for two additional hours.) The entire ordeal lasted eight (8) hours. Officer [name omitted] made several visits to my cell to hurt me.

I told him I had a broken finger, and that my right wrist and thumb might be broken, at which point he smiled, laughed, and started twisting them (my fingers and wrist) until I felt them crack. The pain was so intense that I almost fainted, and I was in so much pain from the prior beatings I took while being arrested, while arriving at the station, and by Officer [name omitted], et al. in places at the station he described as “The place where we got no cameras”, that I attempted to make myself faint to escape the torment and agony that was being wrought upon me.

I should note that Officer [name omitted] genuinely seemed to enjoy hurting me and watching my agony. He laughed and smiled each time he hit me, or squeezed my broken fingers, or punched me in the ribs or skull. He told me “they’ll never catch me… I’m punching you where it doesn’t leave marks” (in reference to my skull and scalp; under my hair.) My doctor, however, corroborated the fact that I had multiple contusions on my skull that were consistent with being punched or struck with a blunt object, and suggested that I may have a concussion.

I told Officer [name omitted] that “I would have his badge” for beating me, and he responded with “I’ll just tell them you were resisting. Or you were violent, or had shank… you’re so fucking stupid kid”, and then he just laughed. The officer taunted me throughout the night by asking me “A blanket would be nice, wouldn’t it?”, then laughing and walking away. He also made remarks such as “Had enough yet” (in reference to “enough” beatings) and “Aww… poor baby is shivering” (in reference to the fact that I stayed in a cold (approximately 49 degrees Fahrenheit) cell for eight hours with no blanket, pillow or hot coffee or tea. Officer [name omitted] also referred to me not by my given name throughout the night, but rather “a faggot”, “a pussy” and “his bitch.”

I told him people like him shouldn’t be cops, and he clearly took the job because he enjoys hurting people for pleasure, and he smiled and agreed with me. It was incredibly disturbing how much fun he seemed to be having, and the joy he expressed every time I screamed in completely blood-curdling agony when he re-broke my finger, and attempted to break other fingers. He treated me sub-human, and not once was I told why I was arrested, or if I was even, in fact, under arrest. Additionally, I was denied a phone call, an attorney, and access to my personal property (the latter being reasonable I suppose – although I heard other inmates using their cell phones.)

When I was finally released at approximately 6:00AM, an officer handed me a bag containing my belongings. I was sober when taken in, and was keeping close track of my money (all in cash.) I started the night with $250 (as I don’t like credit or debit cards, and usually keep all my cash on my person), and when I was arrested I had $174.56. However, when I checked my belongings, there was only $34 in the bag, and Sgt. [name omitted] (who was the person giving me my property back) had no explanation for the missing money.

The next morning I visited the doctor and had an examination, and also took photographs of my injuries. The police officers had broken my left pinky finger “pretty badly” (according to a hand specialist I saw after my primary physician), caused lacerations and bruising to both my wrists, left over a dozen contusions (bruises, cuts, scrapes, welts) on my skull, possibly gave me a concussion, and partially dislocated my right thumb and wrist.

This was all completely unnecessary. I never once “resisted” any officers, and in fact, went limp and followed all their demands in an attempt to avoid further “punishment” (see: beatings.) These officers seemed to take pleasure in beating me, especially when I brought up my attorney, or asked for my rights. As I mentioned earlier, I am a peaceful college student with no criminal record, and what happened to me was completely boorish, disgusting and inhumane. I hope the Fullerton Police Department, Fullerton City Hall and the Internal Affairs Bureau take this very seriously.

Fullerton Tokers Town Gets a Gang Injunction

An Orange County judge signed a permanent gang injunction against Fullerton Tokers Town yesterday, creating a “Safety Zone” that covers a wide swath of south Fullerton as shown below. Members of FTT are now forbidden from associating with each other, intimidating the public, making gang signs, wearing gang clothing, violating curfew and other shenanigans often associated with gang activity.

Twenty-eight members of FTT were named in the suit, nine of whom are apparently already in prison. Current membership is estimated at 125-150 active members.

Gang injunctions allow prosecutors to charge gang members for harassing or intimidating behavior which would not otherwise be a crime. Presumably this will make it easier for the Fullerton Police to crack down on gang members without any conventional crime occurring.

And that’s exactly what makes gang injunctions controversial in Orange County. A few weeks ago the ACLU won a case against the OC DA when a judge determined that naming gang members in the city of Orange without providing them an opportunity to defend themselves in court was a violation of their right to due process. More than 60 alleged Orange Varrio Cypress gang members had tried to appear in court to testify that they were not actually gang members. DA Tony Rackauckas dropped them from the case, but then served the injunction on them anyway.

Bummer.

Rackauckas lost that one, so presumably he was more careful about who he’s calling a gang member here in Fullerton.

Botched Raid Now Under Internal Investigation

A few months ago we told you about a narcotics raid executed on the wrong home, resulting in a pastor and his family being held at gunpoint by the Fullerton police.

Today we bring you an important update from the family: Robyn Nordell says that their persistence has finally led to a formal internal investigation of the Fullerton Police Department.

Brother, I've got some questions.

That’s good news I suppose…if we forget for a moment that the cops get to investigate themselves. And it did take about six months of rigorous prodding and a public spectacle from the courageous victims just to get this far. Furthermore, the public has no idea what an internal investigation actually entails, or how well it will be executed. Nor is it likely that the public will ever be privy to the outcome. And finally, the whole process is guaranteed to be about as transparent as a brick wall.

But let’s look at the bright side: some cop somewhere is finally tasked with figuring out how it all went wrong, and why. If that’s the best Fullerton can hope for, I guess we’ll take it.

Meanwhile, we’ll do our best to find out what constitutes an internal investigation.