Father sues Calif. city over homeless son's death - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Father sues Calif. city over homeless son's death

Posted: Updated:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The father of a mentally ill homeless man sued the Southern California city of Fullerton on Thursday alleging that a brutal beating by police officers a year ago led to his son's wrongful death.

In a civil suit filed in Orange County, Ron Thomas claimed that a violent confrontation with officers who restrained, struck and shocked Kelly Thomas with a Taser killed the 37-year-old man.

Thomas also alleged that the city previously ignored citizens' complaints and failed to discipline officers accused of wrongdoing, creating a "culture of corruption and deliberate indifference."

"There's an atmosphere around Fullerton with the police department that they can get away with anything they want," Thomas told reporters at a press conference in Los Angeles shortly after the suit was filed.

The city's police department declined to comment on the suit — which names the city, two former police chiefs and six officers — noting officials have not yet had a chance to review it.

The suit was filed on the anniversary of the confrontation between a shirtless, long-haired Thomas and police that was captured on videotape and digital audio recording devices worn by some of the officers — footage that sparked outrage among many residents of the Orange County city.

Officers detained Thomas on July 5, 2011, while investigating a report of car break-ins at a city transit hub, and what started out as a conversation escalated into a physical conflict. Thomas, who suffered from schizophrenia, died five days later.

His death stoked an outcry by residents, the recall of three councilmembers, an FBI investigation and criminal charges against two of the six officers involved.

It also raised concerns among residents about the police department's preparation to interact with the mentally ill.

Garo Mardirossian, Ron Thomas' attorney, said the officers who stopped Kelly Thomas escalated the conflict instead of talking it out in a clear sign they were not properly trained.

"The fact that he was homeless, the fact that he was mentally ill, did not reduce his rights," Mardirossian said. "These police officers owed him an obligation to protect and to serve him, not to beat him to death."

Thomas' mother Cathy previously reached a $1 million settlement with the city and agreed not to pursue any further claims. The deal did not involve her ex-husband, Ron Thomas, whose suit seeks unspecified damages.

___

Taxin reported from Santa Ana, Calif.

 

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • AP Interview: Phelps has 'no desire' to return to swimming

    AP Interview: Phelps has 'no desire' to return to swimming

    Wednesday, September 20 2017 6:47 AM EDT2017-09-20 10:47:37 GMT
    AP Interview: Michael Phelps says he has 'no desire' to return to competitive swimming" but eager to those who follow in his enormous wake. 
    AP Interview: Michael Phelps says he has 'no desire' to return to competitive swimming" but eager to those who follow in his enormous wake. 
  • Chula Vista officer shoots attacker who charged with knife, both hospitalized

    Chula Vista officer shoots attacker who charged with knife, both hospitalized

    Wednesday, September 20 2017 3:18 AM EDT2017-09-20 07:18:10 GMT

    SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) - At least two people were taken to area hospitals after a dispute between neighbors in Chula Vista led to gunfire. Chula Vista Police Department officers responded to the incident near Monterey Avene and E. J Street. in Chula Vista at around 10:28 p.m. One victim was taken to UCSD Medical Center and another was taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital. Check back for updates on this breaking news story.

     

    SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) - At least two people were taken to area hospitals after a dispute between neighbors in Chula Vista led to gunfire. Chula Vista Police Department officers responded to the incident near Monterey Avene and E. J Street. in Chula Vista at around 10:28 p.m. One victim was taken to UCSD Medical Center and another was taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital. Check back for updates on this breaking news story.

     
  • Coronado City Council backs IB's lawsuit against IWBC without joining lawsuit

    Coronado City Council backs IB's lawsuit against IWBC without joining lawsuit

    Wednesday, September 20 2017 2:54 AM EDT2017-09-20 06:54:06 GMT

    Coronado won't be joining Imperial Beach in its federal lawsuit against the International Water and Boundary Commission, but it will assist its coastal neighbor with legal fees and lobbying with the federal government.

     

    Coronado won't be joining Imperial Beach in its federal lawsuit against the International Water and Boundary Commission, but it will assist its coastal neighbor with legal fees and lobbying with the federal government.

     
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 Midwest Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.