Fullerton Stands Up for Kelly Thomas

[Moxley Confidential] Businessman/blogger Tony Bushala isn't letting anyone forget Kelly Thomas' brutal death at the hands of Fullerton police

From his days as a record-setting, star high-school and college running back in Fullerton in the late '70s and early '80s, Tony Bushala learned that when the ball is put in your hands, you must charge forward regardless of large, menacing obstacles.

Nowadays, it's not defensive linemen aiming to tackle Bushala—a successful real-estate developer and owner of the feisty Friends for Fullerton's Future blog—but an infinitely more powerful opponent: angry cops.

Police officials have told him in writing to stop publishing critical, investigatory articles about the recent gruesome killing by officers of an unarmed, slightly built 37-year-old homeless man, Kelly Thomas. Not only has he refused, but he's also charging forward, determined to expose police corruption. "What the cops did to Kelly was just so wrong," he says. "We have to stand up and say, 'That stuff is not happening here.'"

Bushala is influencing increasing numbers of normally knee-jerk, pro-cop Orange County residents. On a perfect late-July Saturday, hundreds of people—businessmen, grandmothers, parents, lawyers, students, ex-cops, laborers, teachers, etc.—gave up their weekend pleasures to gather in front of the Fullerton Police Department (FPD). The protest was somber and, at times, angry.

Investigating an unconfirmed report of a man attempting to burglarize vehicles on July 3, six officers surrounded Thomas and beat him so savagely his face and head were grotesquely mutilated. They must have known (and, perhaps, didn't care) that this man suffered from schizophrenia because in recent years they'd repeatedly ticketed him for relatively minor issues such as urinating in public. While officers kicked and kneed him in the head, fired Tasers into his body, and struck him with their weapons, Thomas—lying on the concrete in a bloody mess—cried out the final three words of his existence: "Dad! Dad! Dad!"

Fullerton doesn't seem like a spot where a movement against police brutality would have a chance. It's a tranquil, middle-class city with gorgeous, tree-lined, hilly neighborhoods. Residents hold sharply conservative political views, attend church regularly and put "I support law enforcement" stickers on their car bumpers.

But in response to the Thomas killing, the July 30 protesters chanted and shouted, enticing drivers of passing vehicles to vigorously honk their horns in support. They also waved less-than-subtle placards: "Fullerton Police = Murder," "Justice for Kelly Thomas," "End Police Brutality," "Shame On the FPD 6," "No More Excessive Force," "Who Do You Call When Cops Murder?" "It's 'Protect and Serve,' Not 'Beat and Murder,'" "Kelly Thomas: Beaten to Death by Egotistical Merciless Cops," "Fuck the Police," "Police Are Not Above the Law," "FPD Employs Murder[er]s," "Guilty: Proof Is in the Beating," "Keep Crooked Cops Off Our Streets" and "I Support Police, But Not This Time."

Fullerton's ethical cops must be humiliated that six of their colleagues couldn't figure out how to subdue one 135-pound guy without literally crushing his face. Despite puzzling efforts by reporters at The Orange County Register to depict the incident as a "fight" or "tussle," it was neither. It was a vicious killing.

Nevertheless, the Thomas death would have never rocked the community if it weren't for Bushala. While the mainstream media steadfastly ignored the case, he and his blog team dug into the event. Bushala says he became a man on a mission the instant Ron Thomas, the victim's father, showed him cell-phone photographs of a wildly disfigured Kelly lying in a hospital bed in a police-induced fatal coma.

"I saw those pictures, and my jaw dropped," recalls Bushala. "I said, 'No way. That is sickening. What is wrong with these cops?'"

Believing residents needed to see the handiwork of their police officers, he asked Thomas—a former Orange County Sheriff's Department deputy—to release the photos to him for publication. Grieving terribly and unsure how to proceed, Thomas said "no" for weeks. Bushala persisted.

"I was trying to get Tony to go on a boating trip with me to the lake for a quick vacation," says Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson, a longtime Bushala neighbor. "He kept saying he couldn't go until he got one thing done. Let me put it this way: Tony is a guy who likes to walk close to the flame. He was determined for the public to see a photograph of Kelly after the cops beat him to death."

Almost three weeks after the incident, Thomas realized the story of what he calls his son's "murder" was getting lost. He'd tried to get KABC-TV to show its viewers the image, and they refused, saying it was too disturbing. So he finally let Bushala publish the picture.

The move transformed a story that had minor, fading local interest—cops kill people on a regular basis in Southern California—and captured the attention of not just the national media, but also journalists overseas. Suddenly, Los Angeles-based TV-news crews arrived in Fullerton. KFI-AM's John and Ken, prominent talk-show hosts in LA, began devoting hours on-air exclusively to the topic.

"Because Tony exposed this, I'm getting angry, emotional emails from people all over the world," says Fullerton City Councilman Bruce Whitaker, who has called for a prompt, thorough probe. "The picture really struck a nerve."

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50 comments
Freetibetbooks
Freetibetbooks

Bushala blocked my comments; Censored On Friends of Fullerton: To find out why look but don't touch freetibetbooks.wordpress.com. #988 ... Rons thamas' organizer Curt, sucker punched me…insisting that I participate at the ‘Kelly Thomas Memorial’ events; he gave me pics of Kelly to put in a book…I did put a pic from the papers in ‘The Jabberwocky’ blurb.com book. Ron… tried to sue me for unauthorized use of photos; the photo of Kelly is public domain. They Saw Me Coming: previously I had tried… to help Curtis…Curt insisted that I wanted to steal his ideas, a book about the transit system…my books are art books, not bus books…Curt was awe struck by my work…(but) no matter what I showed him or gave to him, he criminalized me. When I found out that he isn’t even homeless, but eats at Mary’s kitchen where he offers free bus passes (for a lewd fee) to homeless women, I felt hoodwinked. …They tried to play me like a slot machine. Ron posted to the ‘Friends of Fullerton’ blog: “This woman is out of her mind. ‘Kelly is dead so that Ralph’s can stay in business.’ Carolyn Phillips needs to leave me and Kelly alone. She has sent many E-Mails to me and some others with the same kind of BS. If anyone knows who she is, please get her some help.” –Ron (re: 2 emails offering the book as a gift, he never previewed it. He simply set his army of attack trained couch potatoes out after me with vitriolic internet libel; he didn't get anything off of me: he was mad.)

MalikKing
MalikKing

My condolences to the Thomas family. I am truly sorry for your lost, for I was almost murdered in the same fashion, in the same Orange County California; just four months prior.

On March 9, 2011 several Police brutally ordered a K-9 to attack an unarmed, California Registered (RN). The California Highway Patrol (CHP) in Orange County then attempted to cover up the incident.

Malik King, a reportedly Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) since nineteen and RN since twenty three, is said to have initially attempted to steal a car. Later, it was found he was the owner of that Mercedes. What ensued next on the part of several officers goes well beyond the bounds of simply trying to subdue their suspect.

The several police officers ordered a police K-9 to attack him while he was still fastened in his seat-belt; tasered multiple times while the K-9 attacked for over one minute and thirty seconds, then hand cuffed, slammed to the concrete, hog tied, beat and kicked in the head until unconscious. He was then taken to jail, accused of multiple felonies, and had to pay $50,000 for bail.

Despite witnesses and the clear brutality of the beating, kicking, tasering, and ordered K-9 attack, California Highway Patrol allowed several officers to remain active and attempted a cover-up. Violations of federal law occur when it can be shown that the force used was willfully "unreasonable" or "excessive". By signing this petition you agree that "unreasonable" or "excessive force" was used on Malik A. King on March 9, 2011 in Orange County, California.

The beating of Mr. King is sickening and disturbing. The police involved in the beating and cover up must be brought to justice. Tell Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas to thoroughly investigate and prosecute the officers involved in the brutality of Malik A. King,LVN,RN.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com...

Respectfully,Malik King,LVN,RN

Zooots999
Zooots999

this guy should get a medal from the city. without people like him, evil thrives. need to teach in school that the real danger doesn't come from individual tyrants - hitler, whoever, but from the people who enable them by doing nothing to stop them.

FFFF?
FFFF?

Where was Tony and FFFF before Kelly got his head caved in? Other than sitting around moaning what has he done for the hoards of mental case homeless wandering the streets of Fullerton.

Joe
Joe

If you beat a strayed dog to death in Fullerton..You should be in jail and waiting for murder trial by now.If you help your friend to kill strayed animal, you should be in jail and waiting for murder trial by now.Fullerton cops, politicans, officials, and unions should be waiting for their turn. You can dryclean your uniform or wipe out blood from your faces: blood stain has memory. It is only dead man can see a fair justice. Thomas Kelly watching all of you from above. He is still in Fullerton for his justice.

malasangre
malasangre

being bullies they could enter the fact he begged for help as a mitigating factor in their frenzy. typical

Mudge
Mudge

Good article, Scott, but you could write a little more about Kelly and a little less about Tony.

old school GOP
old school GOP

What is disgusting is that people in media and law enforcement were willing to cover this up. Shameful and once again it just goes to show that the people are worthless, yet they continue to display those stupid bumper stickers with I support law enforcement. Gullible people the cops don't give a damn about the average citizen, yet the average citizen is willing to support them. How can one do that?

Dsoto727
Dsoto727

When is the next protest?

ageofknowledge
ageofknowledge

"Police officials have told him in writing to stop publishing critical, investigatory articles about the recent gruesome killing by officers of an unarmed, slightly built 37-year-old homeless man."

Wow. The Gestapo has spoken.

Manny
Manny

this fullerton dont have any credibity polce is allow to write a crimal report while waching the video what joke this like taking a final exam with and open book.But it helps to twist the truth story the way they want to as a policy no other city has it for their police dpt.= cover up .every body nows that how stupid can they be.wonder WHY .

Hally_soboleske
Hally_soboleske

These guys were monsters! I understand that they get hardened against the constant pathetic crying of the homeless and gang members...but they beat this guy to sh*t, and he was not a hazard to society. They just got off on it

Joe
Joe

We need a lot more guys like you Tony Bushala.Thank you

Ed S.
Ed S.

I thank you guys for writing this article. However, one of the reasons I am not a big fan of your publication is because of the knee-jerk Leftist childishness of many of your opinions, such as the photo caption, "Sticking it to the man".

I posted this on my Facebook page, because I think it's an important issue. I just wish you guys would grow up and realize that the system of Laws, and hierarchy of the legal institutions, we have in place in this great Nation, are exactly that which give you the right to make the, sometimes, outlandish statements you make.

joe
joe

Ed,im as far right as you can get and I tell you if you have people that above the law then you have no law!

Broharrio
Broharrio

Prpos to you bushala, these sick above the law jerks needs to to be placed beneath the jail cells and left to rot. How would they feel if their family was done in by gang members hiding behind a badge. These are no cops, they are animals. Real cops are fully trained to deal with the public in a professional manner. It do not take six sick cowardly suckers with weapons to beat down and murder a young ill man. These are pure idiots with reguards for human life. How in the hell can they possibly sleep at night knowing they snuffed out an innocent life who was pleading and calling for his farther. They are heartless criminals and should be treated as such. I warn the folks of fullerton to please be aware of their so called police department since after this incident, no telling what these jerks will do to you. Keep up the fight in this victums name.

malasangre
malasangre

they sleep fine. pleading for mercy from a bully is gas on a fire. if there is more than one then they are compelled to further brutality to be accepted by their peers. a kind of phsyco-sexual erotic compulsion ultimately.

Jeff Torres Justiceforjefftorr
Jeff Torres Justiceforjefftorr

This is a hate crime. What the police are doing across our country is murder and sometimes premeditated murder. We all have friends who are police officers who we respect. They will be the first to tell you that they can not do anything about it. One way or the other they will end up silenced. Witnesses will change statements based on police and DA pressure. Within two months of my son's killing I was audited by IRS. I pay my taxes and never complain. It turned out to be a joke. I have a hard time praying theses day's but I do pray for Kelly's family. See Neil Gunn Burbank PD, David Hall SDPD.

JW
JW

I worked under Chief Sellers when he was at Laguna Beach- talk about a lack of leadership. I got the sense from him that he was just going through the motions and cruising to retirement. He could care less about the City and made no significant contribution during his short stay, so I'm not surprised that he's away in the Caribbean while this stain on his department and community gets bigger and bigger. Total lack of leadership, he should resign.

Rationality
Rationality

Kelly was just sitting on a park bench. No one saw him breaking into cars. He ran beacuse the police were scary and threatenin­g, and he had schizophre­nia. Six police savagely and incessantl­y hogtied him, slammed his head on the concrete curb, beat him, stomped him, drop kneed his nose and throat, tased him 6 times, and when the taser stopped firing, used the butt end of the taser pistol grip to repeatedly hammer Kelly's head until blood spurted out all over. Kelly cried for mercy, for God, for his Dad, until he was finally silenced, but the pummelling of his limp carcass continued even after he fell into a coma. The police bragged about their conquest of this defenseles­s soul the next day and continued to work on patrol up until one month after the killing, only until they were placed on paid leave after Kelly's dad stood up for his dead son and demanded an investigat­ion. The police chief and DA investigat­or are good friends and are trying to cover this up and hoping it will all blow over. They should all be fired and put in jail and be made an example that this type of brutal police killing of helpless, defenseles­s persons should never ever happen again in our civilized society.

Robert D
Robert D

Thank you Tony, and thank you Scott. Early on I was so worried this would get buried, but I'm starting to think we may see justice done.......there's surely too much light now and no wiggle room to sleaze out of this. Even here in northern Cal, all the way to NY, and across the pond, Kelly's story is getting out and people are horrified at what these cops did. Keep the spotlight shining brightly till these venomous snakes are no longer a threat to the public they were supposed to protect and serve. And to all the good cops out there........be patient, people are angry and saying things about cops that they don't really mean. When justice is done, the respect will return.

briansays
briansays

large portions of orange county really aren't much different politically, morally or socially today than the deep south of the 50's

mai
mai

Oh, shut the fuck up, brian.

White_Indian
White_Indian

“Cops must be unleashed, and allowed to administer instant punishment … unleash the cops to clear the streets of bums and vagrants. Where will they go? Who cares?”

~Murray RothbardAmerican author and economist of the Austrian School who helped define modern Libertarianism

Maybe these cops were Libertarian.

jackal
jackal

In a Libertarian society, there's full employment. IOW, there isn't enough government to damage the economy to the point of massive homelessness, which is a symptom of unemployment and diluted opportunity.

White_Indian
White_Indian

"In a Libertarian society..." Oh, do you mean the fantasy presented in science fiction novels?

Actually, in a Libertarian society, cops are beating people of the wrong color as they say, "Get Off My Property!"

"In short; racialist science is properly not an act of aggression or a cover for oppression of one group over another, but, on the contrary, an operation in defense of private property against assaults by aggressors." ~Murray Rothbard http://www.lewrockwell.com/rot...

Racialist Science; it's Free Market.

shasta
shasta

Before becoming a Fullerton City Council member Pat Mc Kinley was the chief of the Fullerton police department. While chief, Mc Kinley hired a former LAPD police officer and it was that officer was involved in the beating of Kelly Thomas. Investigating the history of that former LAPD officer's conduct while on the LAPD force may be instructive when trying to understand how an officer could beat a suspect so agressively. McKinley should be held accountable for the hiring of this officer. Chief Seller's silence exemplifies the culture of the Fullerton police department. Until now, the department has not been closely investigated. It is time to do so.

Longbeachloser
Longbeachloser

Well, over at the Liberal OC, we're having important discussions too!!

You know they want to build a soccer feild in Santa Ana, and even though we don't live there and nearly every opponent is a hard core whire republican, WE OPPOSE IT TO.

Thats community service! Why is this guy getting all the credit??? All he did was complain about an unjust murder, that never happens in IRVINE. Oh By the way, Sal Tinerjo bought a new car......what does sean think about that.

jackal
jackal

Sagon Penn had killed a San Diego police officer in self defense in the mid 1980s, then was acquitted of all charges, because the defense attorney had successfully argued that the San Diego PD was racist. Who thinks Penn would've received justice had he not taken matters into his own hands?

Richard Seph
Richard Seph

Bush and company are community heros.

They have long rankled the establishment and the other blogs (who I bet will soon pick up this story and never mention FFFF).

We could all steal a page from this guys book. Protecting and defending the weakest among us is leadership. Beating them to death is cowardice and criminal.

Matt Miller
Matt Miller

It makes me sick that none of these cops will ever get what they deserve for this. If it was 5 brothers beating to death, a man who raped their sister, they'd get life. Police who beat down a homeless man for no reason until his skull caves in get the benefit of the doubt? This is disgusting. Even as an atheist, I hope there is a god that can judge these filthy animals for what they're doing to the hard working citizens of the United States. The police deserve nothing less than total revolt at this point.

CazPullen
CazPullen

I am a Placentia resident and I am outraged!!! I so wish this would've gotten the national publicity it deserves!!!! But unfortunately, Kelly was considered a "homeless man"...and as a result considered a loss to society anyway. If he was a minority...or healthy young man...this would have been an outrage!!! So many of our homeless are falling through the cracks of getting treatment as a result of budget cuts...and many return to the streets after the "system" cannot help. In this case..."the system" dealt him a double wammy!!!

The officers in charge should be held to a higher standard than anyone else...as they are placed in a power position to "serve and protect". I hope the officers in charge will be held fully accountable!

Erinky Jammees
Erinky Jammees

hey you dumb arse 6 cops, how does it feel to have your brutal cover up national news now. im sure you giggled on the night you were cowards, but legal payback is a bich.

malasangre
malasangre

i assume they were giggling as they did BRAG about doing it and it was fun. the main culprit Cicinelli has a hard on for bearded "outlaws" one shot his eye out and blew off his pecker..

Drew Danielson
Drew Danielson

After BART police killed a homeless man last month in San Francisco, which is the 2nd person killed by the police inside our regional transit system in the past 18 months, my form of protest, to avoid being disruptive but to drive the point home is this - when I see a BART cop, I clasp my hands on top of my head, and I keep my focus on the cop's hand and his gun. I want him to see that I am no threat, and that I am concerned that he is a threat.

Writing about it and using quiet displays of disapproval and ostracism are good tools. Disrupting the general public (as has happened up here in response to these killings) is a horrible tactic, since it alienates most of the people you want to win over.

I don't blame a police state for this however. California actually has too few cops from my East Coast perspective. It's poorly-trained, poorly-supervised, poorly-mentored young meatheads and middle-aged burnouts on the force who are the problem. A smarter police force is the answer.

Keep up the good work Mr. Bushala.

LanceThruster
LanceThruster

Thank you Tony Bushala and all those insisting on, and working for, justice for Kelly Thomas. I wound up moving over a noise disturbance issue from the neighbor's kids. It got really frightening when I learned that they had police relatives and the Temple City Sheriffs often as not would hassle me for making the complaints in the first place (and unbelievably, was in fear for my own safety on several occasions).

Bullies with badges are not to be tolerated in any free society, particularly murdering bullies.

Btw, before I came to comment here, I was reading much good work at "Friends for Fullerton's Future" blog. Glad to know someone with the integrity of Mr. Bushala is behind it.

Great piece of reporting, Mr. Moxley.

Shrox
Shrox

These men killed Kelly Thomas

Officer Jay Cicinelli was thereOfficer Kenton Hampton was thereOfficer Manny Ramos was thereOfficer Joe Wolfe was thereOfficer James Blatney was there

If you ever witness something like this, stop it. Make a move and physically stop it. At some point during this incident they became unfit for duty. Now they are murderers. It is then your duty to stop them.

Posted by me, Shrox

Noneyus
Noneyus

Correct.

1) Bring witnesses with cameras, preferably large males

2) Film from close and far

3) "I am hereby placing you under citizen's arrest for assault. As eyewitnesses we will sign a criminal complaint. If you interefere in any way you will be charged with resisting."

4) Call state police and request backup for your arrest.

5) Go to police station, sign criminsl complaint. Do not accept any intereference. As a civillian complainant, they have no legal right to stop you.

6) Get sworn affadavits from all witnesses.

7) Get legal help from legal foundations who support citizen actions. There are many.

8) Have all witnesses willing and available to testify.

LeRoy Murray
LeRoy Murray

I agree you should, except then they do to you what you're trying to stop. You end up murdered too, and a footnote in their report as a bystander who interfered with an officer doing his duty who they'd say was killed by the victim or accidentally killed by the officers in the performance of their duties, ie the murder you tried to stop. In other words sounds good in theory, would be the right thing to do, but going against gang-bangers in a killing frenzy just not a good idea unless you're suicidal.

jackal
jackal

I once stopped a crime in progress by pulling out my gun, but in hindsight, after having thought of how it could've all gone wrong in an instant, I'm not sure I'd do it again, unless of course I was defending a child. And when the criminals are the police, well, as you accurately paint, it's hopeless. With police brutality out of control, perhaps we need citizen response teams armed with video cameras for defense. At the very least, turning on a hidden, pocket audio recorder would help immensely. Or dial 911 on your cell phone and have it recorded at the dispatch center. Or sting operations: recruit homeless victims of police brutality, set up surveillance, bingo. There is nothing a bad cop hates more than a camera with the record light on. At what point do police unions decide that bad cops are bad for business? Because it's carte blanche support of cops, no matter good or bad, it's the unions that cultivate and perpetuate this infestation of bad cops. If unions don't clean up their act, the public will, as we're seeing unfold in Fullerton right now.

NotSoRedDawn
NotSoRedDawn

I firmly believe that if any of those witnesses had tried to stop the vicious murder of Kelly Thomas, they would have been beaten, possibly killed, and the FPD would have blamed it on "obstruction of justice, resisting arrest."

John from Texas
John from Texas

Well written and informative. Keep up the good work and don't be afraid.

Jake Gaeta
Jake Gaeta

As a former OC resident, former journalism student, someone who met Kelly as a teenager and a crusader against the ever-evoloving poice state......... I give this piece 3 thumbs up!

Dfkgdug
Dfkgdug

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Primelinepolymers
Primelinepolymers

Hey dirtbag, why don't you go to Fullerton and pose as homeless!

Noneyus
Noneyus

Hey asshole -Take your fashion shoes and ram them up your soulless money-grubbing fuckhole

 
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