Kelly Thomas: Councilwoman calls for police oversight panel
Fullerton Councilwoman Sharon Quirk-Silva said Wednesday she will seek to create a police oversight board after prosecutors charged two city police officers in the fatal beating of a mentally ill homeless man.
In the wake of the beating death in July of Kelly Thomas, Quirk-Silva said, city leaders need to examine and reform Fullerton Police Department policies and procedures “that are lacking.”
The oversight board Quirk-Silver is proposing could be either a citizens advisory group or a panel of people with law enforcement and legal expertise, similar to the Los Angeles Police Commission, the councilwoman said.
“I’m open to researching how things operate in other cities and how it would best work here,” Quirk-Silva said. “I don’t want add another level of government and hinder the police department. But I want it [the panel] to be productive, a board that goes both ways, working for the public and for the police.”
The proposal will be introduced at the next council meeting, she said.
The Orange County district attorney's office on Wednesday charged two officers, Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli, in Thomas' death.
Quirk-Silva praised D.A. Tony Rackauckas for his actions and said his presentation outlining the charges were "more disturbing and more revealing than I even expected."
Particularly disturbing, she said, was the D.A.'s account of how Ramos allegedly escalated the incident, including allegedly telling Thomas he intended to beat him, and an allegation that Thomas was smashed in the face repeatedly with a Taser.
"That part -- that was horrifying and devastating. ... That was the turning point for me. I had no idea that had even occurred," Quirk-Silva said. "That was so wrong, the opposite of what we expect from police officers. You expect police officers to protect the public and that they have cause for arrest or to hold somebody. But this seemed like a very deliberate attempt to hurt somebody and was beyond what I imagined."
-- Andrew Blankstein
Photo: Staff members in the Orange County district attorney's office listen as D.A. Tony Rackauckas announces charges against two Fullerton police officers in the death of Kelly Thomas. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times