Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Fullerton police chief could be forced out over beating death

August 5, 2011 |  9:11 am

  A second Fullerton City Council member is asking the police chief to resign after a mentally ill homeless man was beaten to death during a confrontation with six officers.

Council member Sharon Quirk-Silva called for Chief Michael Sellers' resignation Wednesday, criticizing the Police Department for refusing to answer questions about the case or share information with the council. A second council member, Bruce Whitaker, told KTLA on Thursday that he also thinks the chief should resign.

He said the chief is refusing to answer questions in hopes that the public will soon forget about what happened.

"In my opinion, the chief should resign or he may be forced out of his post at some point," Whitaker said. "I want the chief to put a human face on this and, rather than hiding behind legalities and rather than working through spokespersons, to get out in front and man up and basically communicate to the public."

On the night of July 5, six officers allegedly beat Kelly Thomas, a homeless man with a history of schizophrenia, until he was comatose. He died five days later after being removed from life support. Officers had initially approached Thomas at a downtown bus station after receiving a report of someone trying to break into cars in the parking lot, officials said. When Thomas tried to run and struggled with officers, the situation escalated, they said.

Whitaker claims he was told late Thursday afternoon that Sellers and others are just waiting for the public to calm down over the death of Thomas.

"I'm very angry about it because there seems to be a tone-deafness about where the public is at on this," Whitaker said.

If one more council member calls for Sellers' resignation, it would represent a majority of the panel.

Council members said they have not been privy to many details of the case, including internal police reports and surveillance video from the bus station that officials with the Orange County district attorney's office say showed much of what took place. The video has not been released.


Attorney defends Fullerton officers in death of homeless man

Steve Lopez: Fullerton police must explain homeless man's death

Video shows parts of deadly Fullerton police incident, D.A. says

Fullerton official urges police chief to quit over homeless death