Passion, Anger, Shouting at Fullerton City Hall

Ron Thomas, the father of a man who died after an altercation with Fullerton police, spoke passionately Tuesday night about his son

Residents packed Fullerton City Hall again Tuesday night in what has become a familiar rite ever since homeless man Kelly Thomas died from injuries that followed a brutal confrontation with six Fullerton police officers.

"Why are you still here?" yelled one resident. "You need to get the hell out of this city, man. Seriously, you need to go."

Council members have gotten used to that sort of talk. On Tuesday night, as a stormy session neared its end, Ron Thomas, the dead man's outspoken and very determined father, even implied he wanted to strike the mayor.

"Mr. Mayor," said Thomas. "I came here tonight to offer you an olive branch. But the first thing you did was open your mouth and I want to grab a baseball bat, instead. I swear to God."

It was that kind of night.

The meeting was supposed to focus on the  hiring of the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review to examine the Thomas case. But those in attendance made it clear that meant little to them.

Michael Gennaco, chief attorney for the office, said he will try to examine the facts in a way that might not be possible right now in Fullerton.

"I am going to be informed by the incident itself," said Gennaco. "And then I am going to take a step back and look at the department itself, training and other systemic issues."

Kelly Thomas Case Timeline

The department and city officials have faced pressure after the July 5 altercation at a Fullerton transit station.

Thomas, 37, a homeless man with mental illness, was hospitalized after the July 5 encounter with six officers who were responding to a report of vehicle break-ins at the Fullerton Transportation Center. He was removed from life support five days later.

The six officers involved in Thomas' arrest are on administrative leave. The city's police chief announced last week that he would be taking a medical leave.

That announcement led to the appointment of Capt. Kevin Hamilton as acting chief. Hamilton encouraged the hiring of Gennaco, whose review would encompass a broader range of issues than investigations by the Orange County District Attorney and FBI.

Also last week, a group of Fullerton residents began an effort to recall three members of the city council, including Mayor F. Richard Jones.

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