Kelly Thomas' father sues Fullerton, police in beating
The father of the mentally ill homeless man who died after a run-in with Fullerton police officers marked the anniversary of his son's beating by suing the city and six officers, two of whom are facing criminal charges.
Since that day, his father, Ron Thomas, a former Orange County sheriff's deputy, has crusaded to hold accountable the officers, the department and city.
Even though he has seen the videotape and heard audio of the deadly events dozens of times, Ron Thomas said he still finds it hard to hold back tears when he hears some of his son's last words: "Dad, dad, they are killing me."
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
Thomas' mother, Cathy, who is divorced from Ron Thomas, has already received a $1-million settlement from the city.
The case is the subject of a rare trial for officers. An Orange County judge has ordered Officer Manuel Ramos to stand trial for second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, 40, for involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force. Ramos, according to prosecutors, is the first officer in Orange County to be charged with murder on duty. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Thomas' death at a Fullerton bus depot last July, has rocked the north Orange County city, leading to a mass protest movement, the departure of a police chief and recall of the council majority.
Supporters of Ron Thomas, dubbed "Kelly's Army," are slated to hold a memorial ceremony at the transportation center at 8 p.m. Thursday. Flowers and signs continue to adorn the spot where the events unfolded a year ago.
-- Richard Winton
Photo: Ron Thomas holds back tears while talking about some of the video evidence and photos presented in court during the preliminary hearing for Fullerton police officers in May. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles