Timeline to Kelly Thomas' Killing

[Moxley Confidential] Did Fullerton cops kill the schizophrenic homeless man because he annoyed them?

Earlier this month, the Fullerton Police Department won positive media attention for announcing it was creating dossiers on the city's homeless population. Cops are identifying, photographing and building files on a community believed to total about 200, ostensibly to assist officers in helping the downtrodden to find shelters, mental-health assistance or obtain substance-abuse counseling.

I don't doubt the sincerity of the officers assigned to the project and hope their work is beneficial. But let's not fool ourselves: The effort comes in the wake of the July 2011 gruesome police killing of Kelly Thomas. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas filed felony criminal charges against three of the six cops involved, who await a summer court date. Even if the program had been around for years, it wouldn't have prevented the Thomas tragedy.

Numerous Orange County police agencies—including in Fullerton—had extensive files documenting Thomas' homelessness, serious mental troubles and the fact that during at least 89 police contacts over an 18-year span, he'd never been violent toward a officer. Yet, that detailed knowledge didn't help save him because the cops involving in the beating didn't care about behaving professionally. They saw an opportunity to pounce on an annoying, defenseless, homeless guy, and they took it. No amount of dossiers can fix that problem.

A young Kelly Thomas
A young Kelly Thomas


Based on police reports obtained by the Weekly, here's the disturbing, cop-contact time line leading to the killing:

Jan. 8:
15-year-old Thomas is a homicide witness in Yorba Linda.

*     *     *

Dec. 9:
Los Angeles police arrest Thomas for disturbing the peace.

*     *     *

Feb. 14:
Placentia police cite Thomas, 19, for underage drinking of beer and peach-flavored brandy.

*     *     *

June 8:
Thomas accuses his grandfather of staring at his crotch, then beats him with a fireplace poker. He is arrested by Placentia police for attempted murder. Prosecutors later reduce the charge to assault, and he receives a punishment of 270 days in jail.

July 1: Thomas is assaulted by a fellow detainee at the Orange County Jail.

*     *     *

Feb. 26:
Fullerton cops question Thomas for acting suspiciously.

Feb. 28: La Habra police interview Thomas because he looks as though he has a "mental disorder."

April 27: Santa Ana police receive a report from a mental facility that Thomas is AWOL; he is suffering delusions and believes he is "Jesus Christ."

April 28: Thomas' father returns him to the facility.

Aug. 13: Santa Ana police receive a report that Thomas is again AWOL from the facility.

Aug. 14: Cypress police report Thomas stole his father's $550 guitar.

*     *     *

Nov. 1:
Garden Grove police arrest Thomas for drinking alcohol in public.

Dec. 30: Mervyns employees in Cypress complain that Thomas is shoving underwear down his pants and laughing at everybody.

*     *     *

March 5:
Anaheim police stop Thomas for trespassing on railroad property.

March 9: Fullerton police stop Thomas for driving an unregistered car.

March 21: Cypress police find Thomas acting strangely around an elementary school.

April 6: Los Alamitos cops find Thomas acting strangely near a residence.

April 9: Cypress cops arrest Thomas for disturbing the peace.

April 18: La Palma police warn Thomas to stop begging for food at a Denny's.

April 22: Cypress cops detain Thomas on suspicion of vehicle burglary and note he's "very dirty" and "had urinated on himself."

April 24: Cypress cops find a despondent Thomas, who claims to be upset over his mother's death—something that, in reality, hadn't occurred.

July 19: Fullerton police find Thomas sleeping in a planter box at the Fullerton Transportation Center.

*     *     *

April 27:
Placentia police cite Thomas for starting a fire in a public park.

April 28: Placentia police order Thomas off the roof of a residence.

May 12: Westminster police question Thomas for suspicious activity.

June 18: Fullerton cops identify Thomas as a "new transient" and interview him.

*     *     *

Jan. 21:
Brea police find Thomas, missing from a drug rehab, behind a business.

Feb. 12: Anaheim police find Thomas sleeping at the rear of a business.

Feb. 27: Anaheim police question Thomas for loitering.

March 24: Thomas is ticketed by Cypress cops for walking in a bicycle lane.

May 4: Brea police arrest Thomas for stealing fried chicken and tortilla chips from an Albertsons.

May 5: Thomas is arrested for loitering at an Albertsons in Brea.

May 10: Fullerton cops warn Thomas to stop eating food off customers' plates at Knowlwood.

May 27: Fullerton cops find Thomas loitering at Concrete Park.

July 3: Fullerton cops warn Thomas about residential trespassing.

Aug. 26: Anaheim police arrest Thomas for four misdemeanors.

Oct. 18: Santa Ana police receive a report that Thomas is AWOL from a mental-health facility.

Nov. 2: Fullerton cops warn Thomas about residential trespassing.

Dec. 19: Fullerton cops arrest Thomas for punching a man after being confronted for saying to a 14-year-old girl, "Hey, sexy."

*     *     *

March 22:
Fullerton cops cite Thomas for urinating in public and, 10 hours later, warn him to stop loitering.

June 10: Fullerton cops warn Thomas to stop loitering at a Starbucks.

June 15: La Palma police arrest Thomas on an outstanding warrant.

June 25: Thomas is told to leave an Albertsons because he is terrifying customers, yelling and cussing at cashiers, and urinating in a planter.

July 22: Brea police arrest Thomas at an Albertsons for trespassing.

*     *     *

Nov. 21:
Thomas' mother reports her son is schizophrenic, a runaway, tends to be violent and carries a knife; he is unarmed and cooperative when located by officers.

Dec. 11: Thomas' mother reports her son is off his medications, threatened her with a knife and had been self-committed to Western Medical Center.

Dec. 30: Receiving a report of a naked man in an apartment complex's laundry room, Anaheim police arrive and note the clothed Thomas is "an alcoholic, mentally unstable and transient type."

*     *     *

Jan. 15:
Anaheim police receive a call that a man "is urinating in view of the children" at a school and arrest Thomas for indecent exposure, plus urinating in public.

Feb. 7: Fullerton cops cite Thomas for jaywalking.

April 9: Brea police arrest Thomas for panhandling at an Albertsons.

April 23: Brea police arrest Thomas for loitering at an Albertsons.

June 4: Brea police arrest Thomas for loitering at an Albertsons.

Nov. 21: Anaheim police receive a report that Thomas is harassing employees and customers at a Circle K.

*     *     *

Jan. 7:
Placentia police cite Thomas for jaywalking.

Jan. 11: Placentia police question Thomas after receiving a call about a "suspicious person."

Jan. 26: Placentia police cite Thomas for jaywalking.

Feb. 12: Placentia police cite Thomas for disobeying a traffic sign.

March 5: Fullerton police warn Thomas to stop loitering at a Target and "staring down customers."

March 16: Placentia police question Thomas for bathing inside a 99 Cents Only Store.

April 12: Placentia cops question Thomas in an alley.

May 11: Placentia cops warn Thomas to stop harassing 99 Cents Only Store staff and customers.

May 20: Placentia police arrest Thomas for trespassing at the 99 Cents Only Store after cussing out the store manager.

July 3: Placentia police find Thomas sleeping in the bushes in front of a business.

July 7: Placentia police arrest Thomas for an outstanding warrant.

Aug. 12: Fullerton cops cite Thomas for sleeping in a parking garage.

Sept. 22: Placentia police cite Thomas for littering.

Sept. 24: Placentia police arrest Thomas for an outstanding warrant.

Oct. 27: Placentia police question Thomas, who was found sleeping on a public bench.

Nov. 1: Fullerton cops question Thomas about homelessness.

Nov. 19: Fullerton cops arrest Thomas for trespassing at Starbucks.

Dec. 17: Placentia police question Thomas for "looking into vehicles."

Dec. 26: Placentia police arrest Thomas for assaulting a restaurant employee who told him to stop digging through the trash.

*     *     *

May 22:
Fullerton cops question Thomas at a Shell gas station after a bomb threat.

June 28: Anaheim police question Thomas for loitering in the parking lot of a Ralphs.

June 30: Anaheim police arrest Thomas for trespassing after he threw rocks at an employee and customers of a fruit stand.

Aug. 7: A Ralphs manager calls Placentia police because Thomas is panhandling and stealing products.

Aug. 9: Fullerton cops find Thomas talking to himself on a street; he is "infatuated with matches" and refuses medical or mental-health assistance.

Aug. 17: Fullerton cops order Thomas to stop loitering at a 7-Eleven.

Sept. 1: Fullerton cops cite Thomas for throwing a lit cigarette butt.

Sept. 26: Fullerton cops find Thomas digging through trash at Ralphs.

Nov. 9: Placentia police arrest Thomas for trespassing at a Subway after he refuses commands to leave.

Nov. 10: Placentia police cite Thomas for "tampering with refuse" after he digs through a shopping center's trash.

Nov. 13: Placentia police arrest Thomas, who has "a strong body odor" and "soiled clothing," for trespassing at Ralphs.

Dec. 13: At a Fullerton Starbucks, Thomas is accused of throwing a chair at a passing female motorist.

Dec. 27: Thomas' mother obtains a restraining order after he grabbed her neck and refused to let go.

*     *     *

Jan. 5:
Fullerton cops cite Thomas for vandalism after he destroys a payphone.

Feb. 24: Fullerton cops cite Thomas for drinking beer in public.

Feb. 28: Tustin police detain Thomas for loitering.

May 13: Anaheim police receive a call from a bar that Thomas is trespassing.

July 5: Fullerton cops threaten to arrest an unarmed Thomas for a crime he didn't commit and severely beat him until he's grossly mutilated and unconscious.

July 10: Thomas is officially declared dead.

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I would like to know why its been 3 years since he died and his name is still not in the social security death index?


If Kelly just cooperated he'd be alive. Cops did nothing wrong. They were doing their job. If they didn't protect themselves they would've been hurt. Fullerton cops will be found not guilty!


Karen Yeom, with her man by her side...my guess is you have never suffered a devastating loss like your man deciding to dump you, or losing a child. I am glad. I will assume you are asking us to get over it because of this. We forgive you and wish that you never suffer a huge loss.. Go in blessings.


my design is called "Kelly is Free Now"...da da.


cottonwoodforbrains...you are annoying me with your post.does that mean you should die? 

I have seen very inappropriate behavior in cops. Lucky you to apparently have never seen this. I think it is a mistake to assume ALL cops act appropriately. 

I would think that by the time you had three cops unable to subdue a thin man, you should lay off the crushing on top of him-thing. This was 6 cops...all there, all supposedly able to say this and direct each other's activities as they are trained to do. Kelly did not have a gun...they had many, many options but they choose to smother him to death as he cried out for his dad. Are you a dad? If I heard ANYONE crying "I can't breath" and then crying out for his dad, i would respond immediately by making sure he was breathing, and you cannot do that when you are crushing him. Get a clue sir. 

I made a design (drawing) and i dedicated it to Kelly. If it sells, all proceeds will go towards schizophrenia research. I urge fellow artists to do the same.


YES! YES! YES!  He died, because he annoyed them.  This was a mental health situation all the way around.  Imo, some people in law enforcement develop psychotic aggression as a result of...probably PTSD.  When people with tendencies toward psychotic aggression perceive that they are being disrespected they experience it as an attack.  People with mental illness tend to be perceived as being disrespectful.  It's dangerous for people with mental illness to be around people who have tendencies toward psychotic aggression.  I have a mental illness and have been perceived as annoying to law enforcement and was punished for it by them falsifying the report to make it look like I provoked the assault which occurred when I called 911 for them to protect me. They laughed at me...mocked me...didn't believe anything I said and sided with my attacker.  If I were ever in the future to be in need of emergency assistance I would probably request paramedics, because they are more empathetic than law enforcement and so safer for a mentally ill person. Law enforcement agencies should be educating officers of the fact that mentally ill people have symptoms which cause them to be inattentive, confused, agitated, frightened, etc. and how to not perceive this as an attack.  Or they should have specially trained officers that they can call in when there are calls involving mentally ill people. Also, there needs to be mental health assessment and care for patrol officers.  Probably a good portion of patrol officers would benefit from anti-psychotic medication, because it reduces aggression. However, if they were diagnosed as being in need of anti-psychotic medication they would probably be relieved from patrol duty, but that is probably what should happen.  There is too much stress in law enforcement and the mind can only tolerate so much. People in law enforcement develop psychosis from PTSD and this is why they respond as if attacked when they feel disrespected.  This is my opinion, anyway.


No one said Kelly Thomas was an angel, only a troubled schizophrenic homeless man.  That said, with the exception of the attack on his grandfather, which resulted in his schizophrenica diagnosis, most of these are garbage arrests, for loitering, public urination, jaywalking and the like.  The police use these to jail, control and roust the homeless.  And needless to say, such offenses do not call for the death penalty arbitrarily imposed by the FPD.

Karen Yeom
Karen Yeom

^my error.. charged, not convicted & out on bail. Correct me if I'm mistaken, but many ppl are on bail w/o flight risk... and perhaps legalities? What is the fascination w/ public roasting? It has an adverse effect on those others who do their jobs to be micro managed among other pressures, as being a high level stress job. Probabally everyone needs a healing from tragedies.

Kevin J Cruz
Kevin J Cruz

OC Weekly gets one valid story out of 89... big deal.

Ricky Stauffer
Ricky Stauffer

Also, the other three officers are back to work.

Ricky Stauffer
Ricky Stauffer

Three cops have not been convicted. The cops are up on charges. BIG difference.

Karen Yeom
Karen Yeom

...in your time line, it is evident he was terrorizing the public, used violence upon his grandfather & his mother was threatened, filing a restraining order. Thomas' death is a tragedy, but how long can you point fingers? The 3 cops have been convicted.


Sounds about right for someone that is mentally ill and homeless.   What a sad story.  In the picture you see a young man with his whole life in front of him.   Everything could have gone the other way with the right treatment.  Just sad.  The sounds of Kelly screaming for his father when being beaten to death by police will haunt me for the rest of my life. 

Michael Clay
Michael Clay

Just goes to show you police harassment, brutality and getting beat to death is no longer just a minority or inner city problem and if Kelly was a minority. Im pretty sure you would be seeing this story on the news alot more! But if the story doesn't create anger and divisiveness then its NOT A STORY!

Simon Baty
Simon Baty

Anyone who believes this information mitigates the fault of the Fullerton Police Department needs to get their head examined.


Orange County is failing its mentally ill. Why was LE allowed to repeatedly arrest Thomas? To keep the unwanted out of their precious cities? Obviously a normal person doesn't keep doing these things. Ticketed for walking in a bike lane? That smacks of harassment. Thomas kept "escaping" from mental health facilities, which failed him even more than Law Enforcement. So why not just kill him to keep him from bothering people, right? Unbelievable. In this county of plenty our mentally ill residents can't get a lick of justice or proper care. Believe me when I say I doubt very much Kelly Thomas enjoyed his mental illness. RIP Kelly, I am very sorry you were so failed.


The timeline confirms to many that Kelly Thomas was your typical, young , male, paranoid schizophrenic who refused mental health treatment.

The Fullerton PD beat Kelly Thomas to death though Kelly posed no threat to them.

Cicinelli, Ramos and Wolfe defense is they were inculcated into Fullerton PD's "culture of corruption." These three police officers' were formed and guided first by Fullerton Police Chief Pat McKinley's bedroom city commando policing philosophy. Mckinley lead and guided Fullerton PD from 1993 to 2009 before retiring and becoming a Fullerton city council member from 2009 until 2012.

After McKinley retired from Fullerton PD, his intellectual heir Sellers was police chief until shortly after the Kelly Thomas beating death became national news. Sellers ran from Fullerton PD and hid behind his doctor's white coat claiming illness forced his retirement.

Paralleling the Kelly Thomas timeline should be Fullerton city council's response to this beating death, the Fullerton PD's response and the fools the Fullerton city council brought in to deflect and hide the fact that their police force was the major menace to Fullerton's community, not homeless, malnourished, schizophrenics.



Insulting me is inappropriate and hurtful to me. It seems that you misperceived my post. It stated that I believe that police officers are annoyed by people with mental health issues and that I believe it's because police officers perceive them as being disrespectful.  And that due to PTSD...police officers have a low tolerance for what they perceive as disrespect. It also stated that I've had the experience of being picked on by police officers, because they perceived me as annoying. I also stated that people in law enforcement should have more education toward working with the mentally ill population. I'm happy to accept your apology for insulting me...should you choose to do so.

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