Fullerton police receive numerous death threats
The Orange County district attorney's office has released a list of some "specific instances of threats" made against Fullerton police officers in connection with the death of homeless man Kelly Thomas after a struggle with six officers.
The district attorney's office and the city of Fullerton have so far refused to release the names of the six officers involved in the July 5 incident that led to the death of Kelly Thomas, although names of some officers allegedly involved have been published on the local blog Friends for Fullerton's Future. The city denied a records request from The Times on the grounds that releasing the names would "result in endangering the safety of the involved officers." Acting police Chief Kevin Hamilton said previously that the officers involved in the incident had received threats.
The district attorney's office compiled a list 18 instances that officials regard as threats in response to a records request from the Orange County Register.
Some of the items on the list included explicit mention of violence, including a call to the Fullerton police dispatch center saying "a bomb will go off in your place soon" and a voicemail message to the district attorney's office saying, "One of these days, sooner than you think, we're going to pull out the M16s, the AK47s and all the other little fancy weapons we've been storing away for years... and we're going to turn them loose on you ... cops." Another caller allegedly asked the police department to send "officers they don't want" to his home.
Other instances listed were more vague, including a voicemail saying that Fullerton police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Goodrich should release information about the case and "threatening that this is only the beginning and they should prepare to get ready" and another voicemail stating that "if nothing gets done about the murderers that work at FPD, something will happen."
The list also included a blog entry on the Fullerton's Future blog calling for someone to make the officers' contact information and addresses public.
The district attorney's office has said that the officers' names will be released when prosecutors decide whether to file criminal charges.
The six officers involved remain on paid administrative leave. Police Chief Michael Sellers, who was facing calls from the public and two council members to resign, went on medical leave two weeks ago.
The O.C. district attorney’s chief of staff Susan Kang Schroeder said the office is investigating the voicemail messaged sent to their office that spoke of opening fire on officers with AK47s and M16s, as well as some other calls.
She acknowledged that some of the items included on the list did not appear to constitute direct threats.
“Some are more direct than others, but we have to look at them as a totality of all the calls,” she said.
-- Abby Sewell
Photo: A crowd gathers in front of the Fullerton police station Sunday to protest the death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man who died after an altercation with several officers. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times