Vikki Vargas, Kevin Dahlgren
Voters in Fullerton Tuesday will decide the fate of three city councilmembers who are facing a recall election, accused of lax leadership in the wake of the beating death of Kelly Thomas at the hands of Fullerton police. Vikki Vargas reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on June 5, 2012.
Three Fullerton City Council members targeted for recall seemed headed for defeat early Wednesday.
With more than half of the votes counted at about 11 p.m., three council members who opponents said did not do enough to look into the death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless mentally ill man who was beaten by Fullerton police and died soon after.
With 47 out of 87 precintcs reporting, about 65% Fullerton residents favored recalling council members Pat McKinley, Richard Jones and Don Bankhead.
"When I first heard that somebody was going to try to recall us, I thought, why?" Fullerton Councilmember Pat McKinley said earlier in the day on Tuesday.
McKinley was elected to the Fullerton City Council just 18 months ago and now is one of three councilmembers targeted for recall.
The others are Richard Jones and Don Bankhead.
Recall organizers blame the three for not bringing more transparency to the police department after the beating of Kelly Thomas. The officers accused of his murder are now on trial.
"When people are angry, they need something to strike out at," says McKinley. "I understand that."
There are 13 candidates hoping to replace the incumbents if the recall is successful.
Tony Bushala spent nearly $200,000 of his own money to make sure the recall made it to the primary ballot.
"McKinley, Jones and Bankhead failed to lead, and they didn't do anything about it, according to recall organizer, Tony Bushala. "They were involved in the cover up."
"They claim that because we kept our mouth shut, and didn't talk about the situation and so forth, that we were trying to cover it up, but what we were doing was preserving the evidence," says Councilmember, Don Bankhead.
It's an issue that has divided a city.
"I don't think it has anything to do with Kelly Thomas," says resident Joe San Nicholas. "That with Kelly Thomas was an internal thing."
"Fullerton needs to be reorganized," according to resident, Mike Ross.