A unanimous vote by Fullerton city council members Tuesday granted the mother of a mentally ill homeless man who died after a violent confrontation with police a $1 million settlement with the city, officials said.
In exchange, Cathy Thomas agreed to not pursue any further claims or lawsuits seeking damages for the July 2011 death of her son, Kelly, according to a statement released Tuesday.
"Resolution of Ms. Thomas’ claim at this time allows her to begin the healing process and avoid what would likely be protracted, expensive and difficult civil litigation," according to the joint statement released by Thomas' attorney Brian Gurwitz and the City of Fullerton.
The deal does not involve her ex-husband Ron Thomas, who has crusaded on behalf of his son, often referring to his legal pursuits as a war.
"As far as Kelly's mom settling for a million dollars, surprise to me, but that's OK, that's fine," Ron Thomas said Tuesday after the meeting. "She felt that's what she needed to do and I support her in that.
"I'm all about the criminal side of this. I'm not concerned about the civil at this point, at all."
Settlement discussions were initiated by Cathy Thomas' lawyer ahead of a conclusion in the trial of the officers facing criminal charges in the death of her son, the statement noted.
Officer Manuel Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Thomas. Cpl. Jay Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive force.
Both officers were ordered to stand trial on all charges in the death of Kelly Thomas. They are scheduled to appear in court on May 22.
Four other officers involved in the case were placed on paid administrative leave in the wake of the altercation, but are not facing criminal charges.
City officials said Tuesday that the Fullerton police chief has decided on punishment for those officers and will announce that decision when the law allows.
Kelly Thomas' injuries and the circumstances surrounding his death were explored during a two-day preliminary hearing earlier this month, when Judge Walter Schwarm heard from witnesses and viewed surveilance video of the beating.
In that video, Officer Manuel Ramos can be seen twirling his baton and speaking with Kelly Thomas for about 15 minutes before putting on latex gloves and ordering Thomas to put his feet out.
Thomas appears confused.
Ramos: "Now you see my fists?"
Thomas: "Yeah, what about ‘em?"
Ramos: "They’re getting ready to 'f' you up."
Thomas: "Start punching dude."
About 30 seconds later, Officer Joseph Wolfe arrives and as Kelly Thomas steps out of view, he is struck with their batons.
The altercation goes on for nearly five minutes. More officers arrive including Cicinelli, who uses his taser.
Kelly Thomas can be heard screaming for his father, telling the officers he cannot breathe and pleading with them to stop.
Following the altercation, Thomas entered into a five-day coma before he died.
Ultimately, Kelly Thomas died because of the force of the officers' compression on his chest, according to the District Attorney. The pressure made it impossible for Thomas to breathe, according to the DA's report.