The father of a man who died after he was allegedly beaten by Fullerton police officers asked city officials Tuesday night to listen to his son's cries for help.
Ron Thomas was among the residents who attended an emotional city council meeting. His 37-year-old son, Kelly Thomas, died five days after an altercation with six officers at the Fullerton Transportation Center.
"Listen to my son beg those officers, 'Please, please, please God, I'm sorry, I'm sorry,'" said Thomas, referring to audio of the altercation that was posted online. "And, then, the last words of his life -- 'Dad, dad.' I want you to hear that for the rest of your life like I will."
An overflow crowd attended the meeting and many participated in a lengthy public comments session. Some watched on a TV monitor outside the council chambers.
Five officers involved in the case were placed on administrative leave Tuesday. The five officers were assigned to desk duty.
The decision came after surveillance video from a bus showed boarding passengers decribing what they saw. Passengers can be heard telling the bus driver that officers used a stun gun and beat the man.
"The best thing we can do is have them not working in their current assignment, give it some time, so that we can get the facts," said councilmember Sharon Quirk.
One other officer has been taken off the job.
Two residents displayed a banner inside the council chamber that read, "Are We Safe? Release the Tape." The "tape" is a reference to surveillance video from the transportation center.
Officers found Thomas July 5 at the Fullerton Transportation Center after receiving a report of someone trying to break into vehicles. Officers said he resisted arrest.
Local news from across Southern California
"I'm telling you -- homeless guy was just chillin' and then the cops cames, two cops cars came, two cops," one passenger told the driver on the bus surveillance video. "They tried getting him, but he just ran off from them... and they caught him. Pound his face against the curb."
Thomas died five days later when he was removed from life support.
"I know those officers are sick over this, not only those that were involved, but also those that weren't involved," said councilman Pat McKinle, who retired as Chief of Fullerton Police Department two years ago. "The middle ground here is to try to get everyone to lower the rhetoric and let the investigation continue."
Thomas said two members of the police department, including the chief, and two council members have contacted him about the case. He said he met earlier Tuesday with Capt. Kevin Hamilton.
"I appreciate the fact that these officers are on administraive leave now, and I'm really going to appreciate when they're suspended without pay, pending further investigation," Thomas said.
Thomas described his son as a "drifter" who dealt with his mental illness by moving from place to place.
Flowers, cards, candles and other items were left at a memorial outside the Fullerton Transportation Center Wednesday morning.
The Orange County District Attorney and FBI are investigating the beating.