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

Kelly Thomas' Father: "I Need the Truth"

The father of Kelly Thomas spoke about his meeting with the man who could file charges in the case of his son's death

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Thursday, Sep 22, 2011  |  Updated 11:51 AM PDT
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Family looking for answers from police in alleged beating death of Kelly Thomas.

Patrick Healy

Family looking for answers from police in alleged beating death of Kelly Thomas.

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Ron Thomas: I Need the Truth

The father of Kelly Thomas speaks about his meeting with the Orange County District Attorney and other developments in the case. Warning: This video contains graphic images.
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Ron Thomas stood next to pictures of his son's bloodied face Friday during a news conference and calmly expressed the outrage many have felt since the death of his son more than one month ago.

"I need the truth," said Thomas. "You may have noticed I've been able to apply some pressure. I'll continue to do so."

Thomas' son, Kelly, died five days after a July 5 altercation with Fullerton police. At Friday's news conference in Century City, Thomas spoke about his meeting earlier in the day with the Orange County District Attorney and his attorney outlined their efforts to learn more about his son's death.

Attorney Garo Mardirossian said he is trying to obtain a videotape and police reports associated with the case. He said he hopes that someone involved in the altercation at a Fullerton transit station will step forward.

Case Timeline | Fullerton Recall Effort

"We don't believe all six of these officers are equally culpable," Mardirossian said at the Century City news conference. "We believe at least three were pretty bad. We're hoping that one or two of these officers will come forward and break the code of silence. Tell us what happened. Why did they continue to beat Kelly Thomas after he was completely motionless?"

"Our aim is to bring out all the evidence. Show us what these six officers have seen."

Mardirossian was referring to a report that officers in the case were allowed to see a videotape of the altercation before they wrote their case reports. Supervisors allowed the review of the footage so that the officers would have a chance to refresh their memory and write a more accurate account of the incident, according to remarks by acting Chief Kevin Hamilton published in the Los Angeles Times.

Thomas said the DA assured him Friday that he would be able to see the video.

"Personally, I will never be able to watch that video myself," Thomas said. 

Thomas said his expectations of the meeting with the DA were tempered by an earlier one-on-one with the Fullerton police chief -- who is now on medical leave -- and the fact that the investigation is ongoing. He said he was told it would "not be much longer" before he heard from the office regarding charges.

"It went ok," said Thomas of the meeting. "I knew going in there, there were things he would not answer. But there were important things I had to get across to him, such as, why is it necessary to beat somebody so severely in the head and face, to break the bones in and around the face area? They were spending so much time on his head and face, why didn't they just handcuff him?"

After serving in the Army, Thomas joined the Orange County Sheriff's Department. He said he has taught arrest control techniques.

His 37-year-old son, a homeless man with mental illness, was hospitalized after an altercation July 5 with officers who were responding to a report of vehicle break-ins at the Fullerton Transportation Center. Kelly Thomas was removed from life support five days later.

At the new conference, Thomas showed a photograph of Kelly Thomas that he took two days after the beating. It shows his son's severely injured face as he was in a hospital bed.

"I don't know why I took the pictures, I just did," said Thomas. "It brings to mind the question, how would they feel if someone did this to their son or daughter?"

Earlier this week, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told NBC4 there is no evidence to show the officers intended to kill Kelly Thomas, but they are still trying to determine if officers used excessive force in his death.

On Thursday, the family of Kelly Thomas filed a claim -- a precursor to a lawsuit -- against the city. The claim alleges excessive force in the July 5 arrest at the Fullerton Transportation Center.

According to the claim, officers "in unison severely beat  (Thomas) with their fists and with objects and subjected (Thomas) to excessive  applications of Taser electricity and to numerous forms of excessive and deadly  force under circumstances in which (Thomas) was subdued and restrained and  represented no threat of harm to the Fullerton police officers, causing the  death (of Thomas)."

During a closed-door special session Friday, council members considered hiring outside counsel to conduct an independent review.

At about the same time the council was meeting, residents submitted recall paperwork for three city officials. Fullerton residents plan another rally for Saturday at the police department.

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