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Kelly Thomas: Authorities increase security in case of protests

September 21, 2011 |  9:14 am

Officials in Santa Ana and Fullerton are preparing for the possibility of unruly protests Wednesday after Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas announces whether he will file charges against the six Fullerton police officers involved in a violent confrontation that led to a homeless man's death in July.

The district attorney's office received the coroner's report on the death of Kelly Thomas on Tuesday, and Rackauckas is scheduled to announce his decision at 11 a.m. The autopsy results have not been released.

District attorney spokeswoman Farrah Emami said the office has heightened security measures in place but declined to elaborate.

Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said the department has 10 officers assigned to patrol Civic Center Drive every day and will be monitoring the crowd outside to see if more are needed and if the street needs to be blocked to traffic for safety reasons. 

"Our understanding is that Mr. [Ron] Thomas has encouraged Kelly's Army to show up," he said, referring to Kelly's father, who has taken a high-profile role in the case, pushing for criminal charges against the officers. "How many people that equates to, we really don't know... If the crowd is large, we'll evaluate and decide if we close the streets or anything like that."

Ron Thomas told The Times he plans to show up in front of the district attorney’s office at 10 a.m. and has put the word out to his supporters to join him.

So far, officials said there was a heavy media presence outside the office but no protesters.

In Fullerton, police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Goodrich said officials are not expecting any unrest or issues but are prepared. The department's acting chief, Capt. Kevin Hamilton, will be making a statement after the district attorney's announcement.


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-- Abby Sewell

Photo: Larry Dewitt Williams, 56, a self-proclaimed part of "Kelly's Army" who claims to have witnessed the beating of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton, gathers with other supporters in front of the Orange County district attorney's office. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times