Coverage of the trial involving two ex-police officers charged in the death of a homeless man

Councilmember Calls for Fullerton Police Chief to Resign

She faults his handling of the police beating case

By Vikki Vargas and Yvonne Beltzer
|  Thursday, Sep 22, 2011  |  Updated 11:51 AM PDT
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Councilwoman Sharon Quirk-Silva calls for police chief to step down. She says he has not done enough on the Kelly Thomas beating death case.

KNBC-TV

Councilwoman Sharon Quirk-Silva calls for police chief to step down. She says he has not done enough on the Kelly Thomas beating death case.

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A Fullerton City Councilmember believes the city's police chief should resign.

Chief Michael Sellers has only been on the job for two years, but the growing public outcry over the beating death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man, has focused new attention on his department.

Thomas, a man with schizophrenia, died five days after a confrontation with six Fullerton officers at the city's bus depot.

"I have asked the city attorney to get his resignation," said Councilmember Sharon Quirk-Silva.
 
She said changing the leader of the police department would make the investigation into the beating go smoother.

"This kind of case, none of us have a map as to the correct way to handle it," she added and that's " what's becoming very frustrating to the public."

She questioned why the police chief did not publicly explain what happened immediately after the July 5th incident.

"The chief did say this is tragic for our community and we're in the midst of an investigation," explained Sergeant Andrew Goodrich, a Fullerton police spokesman.

Last night, the city council chambers were packed with angry residents who accused the city council of not acting swiftly against the six police officers involved and against the department.

On Wednesday, Fullerton Mayor Richard Jones said he's concerned there's been a rush to judgment in the case.

"As I've said, it's almost got to a lynch type of mob. We can't do that. We've got to get the facts," said Jones.

The mayor confirmed that he and other council members have been warned not to discuss the case.  This was because if the case goes a certain way, the council would have to sit as judge and jury --and it would be important for members to remain non-biased.

Rob Thomas, the father of Kelly Thomas, also wondered whether the police chief would get him the answers to what had really happened to his son.

"I can only imagine he must be diligent and digging in for answers," Thomas said, " or he needs to make retirement plans."

The FBI and the Orange County District Attorney are investigating the death of Kelly Thomas.

Susan Kang Schroeder, the D.A.'s Chief of Staff said her office has two dozen investigators working on this case.

They've already conducted 80 witness interviews.

"This case is a priority for the district attorney who will make the final decision whether of not to file charges," she said,

"It's a very important case whenever police officers are involved," she added because it addresses the issue of public confidence in law enforcement.

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