14 Arrested at Fullerton Rally for Kelly Thomas

One protester assaulted a local television news crew, police say

By Christina Cocca
|  Sunday, Jan 19, 2014  |  Updated 4:34 PM PDT
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14 Arrested at Fullerton Rally for Kelly Thomas

Ky Sisson

Ron Thomas, Kelly's father, was at the protest on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, gathering the crowd and asking them who would join him at an upcoming Fullerton City Council meeting.

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At least 14 people were arrested at a rally outside the Fullerton Police Department on Saturday to protest the acquittal of two former Fullerton, Calif., officers accused in the beating death of Kelly Thomas.

The protest, organized mostly through social media, drew a few hundred people and came in the wake of a jury’s decision to acquit former Officer Manuel Ramos and former Cpl. Jay Cicinelli in the 2011 death of the 37-year-old homeless man outside a Fullerton transit station.

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Ron Thomas, Kelly's father, was at the protest gathering the crowd and asking them who would join him at a Fullerton City Council meeting in a few days, attendee Ky Sisson said via Twitter.

Protesters were peaceful for the majority of the rally until police ordered the crowd to disperse when some people turned violent, according to the Fullerton Police Department.

One group of protesters surrounded a news photographer and attacked her, then surrounded her news van to keep it from leaving, police said.

Crowds took over intersections and blocked streets, intimidated drivers and vandalized businesses, police said.

"At this point, we had no choice but to step in and issue a dispersal order, declaring the protest an unlawful assembly," Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes said.

Ten people were arrested for refusal to disperse, and two people were arrested for vandalism, and one person was arrested for robbery, Fullerton police said. One person was arrested in connection with the assault of the news crew.

All were cooperating with officers, police said.

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The Kelly Thomas case ignited outrage in the community and led to the recall of three Fullerton City Council members, the departure of the city’s police chief and a scathing report that accused the department of ignoring misconduct among its ranks.

Jurors reached their decision after only one day of deliberations. After the decision came down, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced it would drop charges against Joseph Wolfe, the third former Fullerton police officer accused in the beating death of Kelly Thomas.

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Hours after the officers’ acquittals, the FBI announced it would examine evidence in the trial to see if further investigation is needed.

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