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Family seeks witnesses to Fullerton police beating

July 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The father of an Orange County man who died after a scuffle with Fullerton Police is venting his rage. The 37-year-old man died Sunday from injuries suffered in an altercation last week.

Ron Thomas, father of deceased man Kelly Thomas, passed out flyers Monday seeking answers near the scene where a run-in with police left Kelly Thomas brain-damaged. Kelly, 37, was removed from life support Sunday.

"The only thing we have left of our son is the blood in the gutter, that's all we have left," said Ron Thomas.

Police say officers approached Kelly Thomas last Tuesday night after receiving reports that someone was breaking into cars near the bus depot in Fullerton. Police allege Thomas resisted arrest for several minutes.

Mark Turgeon saw it differently. He says he was only 20 feet away.

"They kept beating him and Tasering him. I could hear zapping, and he wasn't even moving," said Turgeon. "He had one arm in front of him like this, he wasn't resisting. And they kept telling him, 'He's resisting, quit resisting,' and he wasn't resisting."

Police say they won't talk about what force was used since it's under investigation, but they say at least six officers were involved and two officers suffered broken bones in the fight.

"During the course of that, taking Mr. Thomas into custody, that's when he suffered his injuries, because he wasn't complying with the officers' orders and directions," said Fullerton Police Sgt. Andrew Goodrich.

Thomas's father, Ron, is a former Orange County Sheriff's deputy. He alleges that Fullerton police used excessive force.

"With six officers on him, that could average with all their equipment to 1,500 pounds of trained men against a 165-pound unarmed homeless man," said Ron Thomas.

"His eyes were swollen shut, his nose was broken, and I just couldn't imagine what happened to him," said Kelly's sister, Tina Kinser.

Thomas's sister and parents put up flyers hoping to find witnesses. They admit Thomas was homeless and had a history of mental illnesses. But they say he was not a violent person.

The owner of nearby Santa Fe Express Café agrees. Kelly Thomas visited her business daily.

"Everyone knew him, that he had some problems but he was a harmless soul," said Salma Bushala, owner of the café.

"We just want the truth and we want justice for Kelly," said Tina Kinser.

Officials say an autopsy was performed Monday, but results were still pending. The investigation was ongoing.

If you have information related to the incident, contact the Fullerton Police Dept. at (714) 738-6715, or you can contact the family directly at FreeSprit74@aol.com.

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