Fullerton Police Chief on Medical Leave

Announcement made about a month after Kelly Thomas beating

The Fullerton police chief who was in charge of the department during the Kelly Thomas beating -- an incident that has drawn protest and nationwide criticism -- is now on medical leave.

Police chief Michael Sellers was placed on medical leave by his doctor, said Fullerton City Manager Joe Felz.

"We wish chief Sellers well, and are appreciative of his efforts in behalf of the city," Felz said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.

The Fullerton Police Department has been under heavy public scrutiny since the July 5 beating of Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man who later died from his injuries.

Two City Council members called on Sellers to resign in the wake of the beating.

Capt. Kevin Hamilton, commander of Fullerton's detective division, was appointed acting police chief Wednesday.

Hamilton (pictured, right) acknowledged the Thomas beating in the city's news release announcing the appointment.

"We also have very important issues we have to deal with in light of the Kelly Thomas incident, and we will work with investigators from the District Attorney's Office and the FBI, who are looking into the incident," said Hamilton.

"Hamilton said he is also looking forward to working with the independent consultant selected to conduct an independent administrative inquiry and review of policies and procedures at the department," according to the city.

"We are very grateful that we can call on Kevin Hamilton for his services. I am confident he will do a good job," Felz said.

Other Fullerton Incident Scrutinized

In the wake of the Thomas beating, another run-in with Fullerton police is now getting the public's attention.

Veth Mam, 35, had an altercation with Fullerton police officers on October 2010. Mam was taping the arrest of a friend when police tried to take his cell phone camera away from him, Mam's attorney said Wednesday.

Attorney David Borsari says officers fabricated claims that his client tried to choke an officer.  Borsari says there remains an issue of credibility among Fullerton police, "My client lost faith in the system and in Fullerton PD in this case."

The El Monte man was detained on misdemeanor battery assault and resisting a peace officer, but was later acquitted, said his attorney.

On July 5, Thomas was beaten during a run-in with Fullerton officers. He later died from his injuries.

Blogger Tony Bushala, who writes for "Friends for Fullerton's Future," has been following the Thomas case, and said there may be more instances of police abuse.

"There have been several cases of police officers doing wrong, getting caught, stealing, cheating, lying, popping pills, so there's something else going on at the Fullerton Police Department," Bushala told NBC LA.

"I believe there's been a cover-up from day one with the information that's been released from the public information officer, which has been false information," said Bushala. "Basically they're lying and it's just causing me to dig deeper and deeper to find the truth."

Bushala recently released the names of the officers allegedly involved in the Thomas beating. He's gotten involved in the incident because he wants to hold city officials accountable.

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