Southern California -- this just in

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

Homeless man suffered numerous injuries in police altercation

September 7, 2011 |  7:55 am


A mentally ill homeless man suffered blunt-force trauma before his death and was hit by a Taser near his heart during a violent altercation with Fullerton police officers, according to medical records made public by a lawyer for the man's family.

Kelly Thomas suffered injuries to his chest in the July 5 incident at the Fullerton bus depot, according to lawyer Garo Mardirossian, who has filed a claim against the city on behalf of Thomas' father and mother.

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

Mardirossian plans to reveal more details at a news conference Wednesday.

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

The Orange County Coroner's office has not completed its report or released an official cause of death, said Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the department.

Prosecutors investigating six officers involved in the incident say the cause of death is vital to the probe.

Toxicology tests are still pending. Prosecutors are reviewing a security camera video of the officers' encounter with 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 hit him repeatedly with Taser shocks.

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 have been placed on leave. An attorney for the officers said Thomas violently struggled with them.

Disgusted residents have organized a recall election of three city council members they say have been unresponsive to residents' concerns.

Amid calls from Thomas' father, Ron Thomas, for Fullerton police Chief Michael Sellers to resign, Sellers went on a medical leave last month.


Death at Coronado mansion

Police seek leads in triple homicide

High temperatures, dry winds for Southern California

-- Richard Winton