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Fullerton homeless man died of blunt force to head, records show

September 7, 2011 | 11:36 am

Fullerton homeless man died of blunt force to head, records show

A mentally ill homeless man died of brain injuries due to head trauma after a violent altercation with Fullerton police officers, according to UC Irvine Medical Center records made by public by his family's lawyer.

Kelly Thomas suffered blunt head trauma with multiple broken bones in his face and injuries to his chest in the July 5 incident at the Fullerton bus depot and was shocked with a Taser stun gun near his heart and on his back, said lawyer Garo Mardirossian.

He has filed a claim against the city of Fullerton on behalf of Thomas' father and mother.

The immediate cause of death was listed as "brain damage" due to "head trauma" from an assault, medical records show.

No narcotics or prescription medications were found in Thomas' body, according to medical records, Mardirossian said.

According to the attorney, Thomas suffered a shattered nose, brain trauma, smashed cheek bone, broken ribs and severe internal bleeding.

Mardirossian said "the officers repeatedly hit Thomas in the face" and they used the butt of the Taser to deliver some of those blows. He said three officers were primarily involved in the "assault."

Thomas died after five days in the hospital when he was disconnected from life support.

Mardirossian said the beating is the only explanation for Thomas' death given the lack of anything else in his system.

The Orange County coroner's office has not completed its report nor provided an official cause of death, said Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the department.

Prosecutors investigating six officers say that determination of cause of death is vital to the probe. Toxicology tests are still pending.

Prosecutors are reviewing a security camera video of the incident involving Thomas, who suffered from schizophrenia.

Several bystanders witnessed the incident, and Thomas can be heard on another video crying out for his father as an officer repeatedly hit him with the Taser's voltage.

In addition to Orange County prosecutors, the FBI and a police watchdog hired by the city are conducting separate investigations. The city has refused to release the names of the officers who are being investigated. The officers have been placed on leave.

An attorney for the officers said Thomas violently struggled with officers. Residents have organized a recall election of three council members they say have been unresponsive to concerns regarding the incident.

With calls from Thomas' father, Ron Thomas, for Police Chief Michael Sellers to resign, Fullerton's top cop went on a medical leave last month.


Document: Read the medical records

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-- Richard Winton in Fullerton

Photo: A UC Irvine Medical Center document on the death of Kelly Thomas. Credit: Richard Winton / Los Angeles Times