Public Help Wanted in Fullerton Beating

The victim's family is looking for justice and the District Attorney's office is calling on witnesses to come forward

The Orange County District Attorney's office Wednesday is seeking witnesses of a confrontation between police and a Fullerton man who died earlier this month.

Kelly Thomas, 37, died days after a July 5 incident at a bus depot on Pomona Avenue. In a video posted online Saturday, Thomas can be heard screaming, "Dad, dad, dad." The sound of a stun gun can also be heard in the background, as people appear to be reacting to the event from a distance.

"His heart stopped three times on the way to the hospital," said the victim's father, Ron Thomas. "There are too many tools for these officers to use. It's not justified in any sense at all when you beat someone to death that badly."

Ron Thomas wants answers and witnesses, too. He has also released a graphic picture of his son in the hospital, taken days before his death, showing the victim's severe injuries. Kelly Thomas was placed on life support after the incident and died 5 days later.

Image of Thomas After Incident (Warning: Graphic Image)

"I've never seen anybody look so bad," said Thomas. "I could just tell from a couple of features that was indeed, my son. Pretty much -- unrecognizable."

Police say they were initially called to investigate a car burglary in a nearby parking lot and that Kelly Thomas matched the suspect's description.

Thomas' parents say their son lived on the streets. They admit he was a drug user and was diagnosed as a schizophrenic. But, they can't understand why he is dead.

”I'm just really upset that somebody could actually do this to another human being," said Cathy Thomas, his mother. "He wasn't just a homeless person. He was a human being. He was somebody's son. He was somebody's brother."

Fullerton police chief Michael Sellers said the department is doing it's own internal investigation. He said the officers were trying to arrest Kelly Thomas during the incident in question.

”Mr. Thomas didn't want to be cooperative at the time," he said. "The event escalated and the officers felt they needed additional assistance in order to subdue him and take him into custody."

Police said the incident may have been captured on a surveillance camera next to the bus stop. That video has been turned over to the District Attorney's office.

Sellers said 6 officers were involved in the altercation. Two were injured and, all but one, is back on patrol.

Meantime, Fullerton councilman Bruce Whitaker wants evidence, including any video connected to the death of Kelly Thomas, to be made public.

"I fully support and urge any efforts (that) will result in a clear, factual and complete explanation of events which led to the death of Kelly J. Thomas and insist that related evidence, including video and audio recordings be made public," wrote Whitaker in an open letter to the public.

Anyone with any information is being asked to call the D.A.'s office at 714-347-8813.

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