$4.9M settlement reached in wrongful death case of transient Kelly Thomas

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- The city of Fullerton agreed Monday on a $4.9 million settlement in the death of Kelly Thomas, the transient man who died in 2011 following a rough arrest by Fullerton police.

The settlement came on the scheduled start day of Thomas' wrongful death trial, which was set to begin at 9 a.m. in Santa Ana on Monday.

The Fullerton City Council held a last-minute closed-door session, also at 9 a.m., to discuss the case with lawyers.

Dana Fox, the attorney representing the city, made the settlement announcement at about 11 a.m.

"It buys everyone peace, it buys everyone some certainty, and everyone can move on and try to continue the healing process," Fox said.

As part of the settlement, no one involved admits any fault.

Thomas' father, Ron Thomas, filed the wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Fullerton and five Fullerton officers. Kelly Thomas' family claimed he was beaten and killed on July 5, 2011, by police officers who were not properly trained to deal with a mentally ill person.

"It's been a long road, a very emotional road. This settlement, because of the amount offered is speaking volumes that it the guilt, this is the admission of liability. And that is all I've ever wanted," Ron Thomas said.

In January 2014, Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli, two former officers involved in the case, were acquitted in the criminal trial as the city claimed Kelly Thomas died from a pre-existing heart condition.

After the acquittals, prosecutors dropped charges against former officer Joe Wolfe.

The family had said Kelly Thomas died as a result of suffocation and head trauma.
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