Caught on Tape: Police Beat & Taser Fullerton Homeless Man Kelly Thomas to Death

This video, shot on July 5 by a student in Fullerton, California, ostensibly features the sounds of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas crying for his father while being Tased by police officers after he supposedly resisted arrest. Thomas was also beaten so badly that he was placed on life support. He died several days later.

Dead: Mentally ill homeless man Kelly Thomas, 37, was beaten and tasered to death by police for allegedly 'resisting arrest'

Thomas—who suffered from schizophrenia, and was homeless—caught the attention of the police after someone reported that a burglar was breaking into cars parked near a Fullerton bus station. When officers approached Thomas in the depot parking lot and tried to arrest him, he resisted. What happened after that is a topic the Fullerton Police Department doesn’t seem too enthusiastic to discuss—but the sound of Thomas’s voice certainly speaks on their behalf. And as this gruesome photo shows, the six officers involved in the altercation beat Thomas beyond recognition; after several days on life support, Thomas was taken off the machines and died.

Shocking: This picture shows the extent of the injuries Thomas received after being beaten up by six police officers

It was claimed two officer’s suffered broken bones from Thomas, according to this report, a police sergeant stated on July 20 that, contrary to several news reports, no officers suffered from broken bones as a result of the Thomas incident — only “soft tissue damage.”

Did Thomas actually resist arrest? Mark Turgeon, who witnessed the beating, says no:

“They kept beating him and Tasering him. I could hear zapping, and he wasn’t even moving,” said Turgeon. “He had one arm in front of him like this, he wasn’t resisting. And they kept telling him, ‘He’s resisting, quit resisting,’ and he wasn’t resisting.”

Turgeon’s depiction of Thomas as a peaceful, passive person aligns with most of the public comments made by people in the Fullerton community in the aftermath of the beating. Though some community members regarded him as scary and prone to angry outbursts, most people who saw him around town say otherwise. At the website Fullerton Stories, several people have shared their experiences interacting with Thomas—describing him as “very quiet and polite,” “gentle and a childlike,” “sweet,” and “never a threat.” Thomas did plead guilty to assault with a deadly weapon about 16 years ago—which, FWIW, seemed to coincide with the onset of his illness.

Since Thomas’s death, his family and members of the community have held protests outside the police department headquarters, looking for answers but not really getting any. Thomas’s dad, a former sheriff’s deputy, has been particularly vocal—calling his son’s death “‘gang-involved, the way I see it—a gang of rogue officers who brutally beat my son to death,” and stating that he now feels ashamed for having ever been a law enforcement officer.

The Fullerton cops are remaining silent on the particulars of what happened, but say they’ve invited the local district attorney to conduct an investigation. While the local mayor seems content to mutter nonsensical things about the course of action that should be taken, local city council member Bruce Whitaker has called for a “clear, factual and complete explanation of events which led to the death of Kelly J. Thomas.” Whitaker wants the D.A. to release a police video that apparently shows the actual beating taking place.


A memorial for Kelly Thomas.

Family seeks witnesses to Fullerton police beating

FULLERTON, Calif. (KABC) — The father of an Orange County man who died after a scuffle with Fullerton Police is venting his rage. The 37-year-old man died Sunday from injuries suffered in an altercation last week.

Ron Thomas, father of deceased man Kelly Thomas, passed out flyers Monday seeking answers near the scene where a run-in with police left Kelly Thomas brain-damaged. Kelly, 37, was removed from life support Sunday.

“The only thing we have left of our son is the blood in the gutter, that’s all we have left,” said Ron Thomas.

Police say officers approached Kelly Thomas last Tuesday night after receiving reports that someone was breaking into cars near the bus depot in Fullerton. Police allege Thomas resisted arrest for several minutes.

Mark Turgeon saw it differently. He says he was only 20 feet away.

“They kept beating him and Tasering him. I could hear zapping, and he wasn’t even moving,” said Turgeon. “He had one arm in front of him like this, he wasn’t resisting. And they kept telling him, ‘He’s resisting, quit resisting,’ and he wasn’t resisting.”

Police say they won’t talk about what force was used since it’s under investigation, but they say at least six officers were involved and two officers suffered broken bones in the fight.

“During the course of that, taking Mr. Thomas into custody, that’s when he suffered his injuries, because he wasn’t complying with the officers’ orders and directions,” said Fullerton Police Sgt. Andrew Goodrich.

Thomas’s father, Ron, is a former Orange County Sheriff’s deputy. He alleges that Fullerton police used excessive force.

“With six officers on him, that could average with all their equipment to 1,500 pounds of trained men against a 165-pound unarmed homeless man,” said Ron Thomas.

“His eyes were swollen shut, his nose was broken, and I just couldn’t imagine what happened to him,” said Kelly’s sister, Tina Kinser.

Thomas’s sister and parents put up flyers hoping to find witnesses. They admit Thomas was homeless and had a history of mental illnesses. But they say he was not a violent person.

The owner of nearby Santa Fe Express Café agrees. Kelly Thomas visited her business daily.

“Everyone knew him, that he had some problems but he was a harmless soul,” said Salma Bushala, owner of the café.

“We just want the truth and we want justice for Kelly,” said Tina Kinser.

Officials say an autopsy was performed Monday, but results were still pending. The investigation was ongoing.


Categories: Government, Police Brutality, U.S. News, Videos

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