The claim that a Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen employee may have inadvertently helped ignite the brutal, July 5 killing of a homeless man by Fullerton cops is not true, according to Slidebar co-owner Jeremy Popoff.

In a Dec. 29 phone message to the Weekly in response to months of seeking an interview, Popoff--who is also a guitarist for the band Lit--addressed the rumor involving the killing of Kelly Thomas.

"I can tell you it's not true," he said.

Kelly Thomas Killing Prelude Didn't Involve Slidebar, Bar Owner Claims

But in the same message, Popoff said he will not accept the paper's repeated invitations to field questions about the subject.

"I just don't want to participate," he said.

Multiple sources associated with the Slidebar have insisted that police launched their savage attack on an unarmed Thomas after receiving a phone call complaint from a bar employee who may have falsely accused the homeless man of breaking into vehicles.

In the aftermath of the killing, Fullerton PD acknowledged that officers responded to the Thomas scene following a telephone complaint, but they've refused to publicly share any related information. The department's response to our Aug. 30 California Public Records Act request for the information contained thick black lines of redaction concerning specific phone calls.

For four months, we've asked Popoff to confirm or deny the phone call claim, but until the Dec. 29 message, he and his publicist had steadfastly refused all interview requests.

"It's not that I'm hiding out from you," he said in his message. "I just don't want to participate in the story and all the crazy theories and all that. I can tell you it's not true, and this thing's going to trial here pretty soon, and the facts will come out."

Following a lengthy investigation into Thomas' death, District Attorney Tony Rackuackas charged Manuel Ramos with second-degree murder and Jay Cicinelli with involuntary manslaughter. The two face an upcoming trial sure to attract international attention.

(R. Scott Moxley contributed to this report.)


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