[UPDATED W/FIRST VIDEO OF POLICE ARRESTING VICTIM:] Kelly Thomas' Officer-Involved Death Was Videotaped; Councilman Calls For Release to Public
UPDATED, JULY 25, 8:42 A.M.: Now comes the first video of police arresting Kelly Thomas, posted on Youtube and available through Fullertonsfuture.org. You can't see much besides onlookers milling around on the sidewalk, mostly blocking the view of a few police officers who appear to be crouching down in front of a cruiser. The onlookers discuss how the cops apparently have tased Thomas five times while he was already down on the ground. Disturbingly, you can hear someone, presumably Thomas, sobbing "Dad, dad, dad...." over and over.
PREVIOUSLY UPDATED, JULY 22, 4 P.M.: The Fullerton news blog Fullertonsfuture.org has posted a graphic hospital photo of Kelly Thomas that website administrator Tony Bushala tells the Weekly was taken by the victim's father, Ron Thomas, who gave it to him with permission to publish. You can read various reactions to Bushala's decision to post the photo online on his website, but needless to say, the majority of the comments express shock and outrage over the extent of the injuries visible in the photo.
Photo and rest of story after the jump...
ORIGINAL POST, July 22, 2:00 P.M.: Bruce Whitaker, a member of the Fullerton City Council, is calling for the Orange County District Attorney to release a police video showing half a dozen officers beating up Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old schizophrenic homeless man who police apprehended downtown on the evening of July 5. The cops were in the process of investigating a rash of car burglaries when they attempted to arrest Thomas, who allegedly resisted. He went into a coma and died five days later when his family allowed doctors to remove him from life support.
Whitaker made his feelings known in a July 17 "Open Letter to Fullerton Residents" that was written on city stationery andwhich has been posted online by the local news blog Fullerton Stories
. In it, he states that he and his wife Linda attended Thomas' memorial service and that he spoke with Ron Thomas, the man's father, who is a former deputy with theOrange County Sheriff's Department
"We...extended our heartfelt condolences to his family for their loss and our sincere sympathies for their sorrow," Whitaker wrote. "A tragic event resulting in a loss of life can generate extreme grief and intense pain for loved ones, and even more so when circumstances and even a cause of death are not clearly understood or explained. I fully support and urge any efforts which will result in a clear and complete explanation of events which led to the death of Kelly J. Thomas and insist that related evidence, including video and audio recordings be made public."
Mayor Richard M. Jones doesn't agree and was quick to tell Fullerton Stories that Whitaker wasn't speaking on behalf of anyone but himself. "He is exercising his right to free speech as a private citizen," Jones said. "It's just not good to speculate on things until we know all the facts."
District Attorney spokesperson Susan Kang Schroeder refused to comment on the case. "The Orange County District Attorney is investigating the in-custody death," she said. "We will not comment until the investigation is complete."
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