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Kelly Thomas: Fullerton releases call that drew police to the scene

July 25, 2012 |  2:25 pm

Ron Thomas

Kelly Thomas case: 911 call The Fullerton City Council has released a redacted version of the phone call that brought police to the downtown bus depot on the night Kelly Thomas was beaten by officers. 

Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man, died five days after the July 5, 2011, beating, sparking the recall of three Fullerton City Council members and criminal charges against two former officers.

Fullerton resident Richard Dwyer put in a public records request for the call earlier this month. The Orange County district attorney's office filed for a restraining order in an attempt to prevent the city from releasing the information.

The district attorney's office said the release of the call would endanger their investigation and the safety of the caller.

An Orange County Superior Court judge denied the request for a restraining order Tuesday. At a meeting that evening, the council voted to release the call with the caller's name and phone number redacted to protect the person's safety. Councilman Doug Chaffee said the caller had received death threats.

The city posted the redacted audio and transcript on its website Wednesday.

In the audio recording released by the city, the caller identified herself as an employee of the Slidebar, a bar adjacent to the bus depot, and said she had walked out to her car and saw Thomas, who she described as "the creepy homeless guy that looks like Jesus," "looking in cars, pulling on handles, again." The caller said she knew the homeless man as "Kelly" and that he "used to walk around with a hatchet."

Officers arriving at the bus station in response to the call detained Thomas, and what began as a routine police encounter escalated to a violent incident involving six officers.

A former employee of the Slidebar filed a wrongful termination suit in June claiming that a manager at the bar made the call and that the report was false. The former employee, Michael Reeves, claimed he was fired for objecting to a coverup by the bar. The bar's owner, Jeremy Popoff, said the suit was frivolous and Reeves was simply trying to profit off the tragedy.

Former Fullerton Officer Manuel Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter and former Cpl. Jay Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force.

Cicinelli, Ramos and a third officer, Joseph Wolfe, who was not charged in the case, no longer work for the city. Three other officers remain on paid administrative leave.


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Photo: Ron Thomas, father of Kelly Thomas, is photographed outside the Orange County District Attorney's office in Santa Ana in September. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times