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

Ron Thomas Slams New Fullerton Police Chief

Still under scrutiny stemming from Kelly Thomas beating, embattled police department appoints new leadership

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Ron Thomas and Capt. Dan Hughes

    The father of a 37-year-old homeless man who was allegedly beaten to death by police slammed the appointment of a new chief Wednesday, saying it was just business as usual in Fullerton.

    Complete Coverage: The Kelly Thomas Case

    Capt. Dan Hughes, a 28-year FPD veteran, will take over as police chief on Jan. 3, city manager Joe Felz said Wednesday morning.

    "Capt. Hamilton has done an outstanding job in assuming the acting police chief position at a very difficult time for the department and the city," Felz said in a statement.

    Hughes is replacing acting police chief Kevin Hamilton, who was appointed in September when chief Michael Sellers left on extended medical leave.

    Ron Thomas Describes Emotions After Seeing Fullerton Police Officers

    [LA] Ron Thomas Describes Emotions After Seeing Fullerton Police Officers
    The officers accused in connection with Kelly Thomas' death appear in court.

    Sellers's medical exit coincided with growing public unrest over the department's handling of the Kelly Thomas case. Thomas, a homeless man who suffered from schizophrenia, was beaten by Fullerton police officers on July 5 at a bus depot. He died five days later.

    Timeline: The Kelly Thomas Case

    "Personally I do not support this move," Ron Thomas said on Wednesday.

    "After my son's death when the protest began, Dan was indeed very helpful to myself and Kelly's Army. Him and I still talk nicely to each other," wrote Ron Thomas in a statement.

    "However, Capt. Hughes was and is the captain directly over the Patrol Division. These are the same officers that all of the brutality, rape, theft, misconduct, and now murder charges/lawsuits are against," he wrote.

    Calling the department "rogue," Ron Thomas argued that the FPD "operates without fear of consequence."

    "What I see for Fullerton's future, is a very good possibility of 'business as usual' with the same old fox guarding the hen house," he wrote.

    Full Statement: Ron Thomas Responds to New Police Chief Announcement

    Ron Thomas -- known for his calm demeanor and dedication to the case -- was out in front at every protest and council meeting during the last few months. He's been incredibly vocal against the police department and the city of Fullerton. In September, he called for the death penalty against one of the officers accused in the beating.

    Officer Manuel Ramos was charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. The 10-year veteran of the force pleaded not guilty and was released from jail after posting bail in September.

    Corporal Jay Cicinell, a 12-year department vet, pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and excessive force. He was released on $25,000 bail.

    Both men appeared in court last week for a pre-trial hearing. A preliminary examination date was set for March 28.

    Four other officers involved in the beating were not charged.

    The death of Kelly Thomas and the Orange County District Attorney's decision to file charges against two officers led to nationwide attention on Fullerton. Protests frequently attracted hundreds of people and KFI's "John and Ken Show" dedicated entire shows to the case. The story was featured on national news programs and watched closely on local media.

    As for Hamilton, the current police chief, he will return to the department's detective division and help with Hughes' transition. The 34-year department vet plans to retire soon.

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