At last night's meeting, the city council voted to hire Michael Gennaco to conduct an independent review of the Kelly Thomas beating and the police department's practices.
Earlier in the meeting, more than 50 Fullertonians spoke during the public comment section, many voicing personal experiences with the Fullerton Police Department. Lori Textor, for example, told the council that she and her daughter had witnessed Fullerton police officers punch a guy in the face and put a dark hood over his head in the past. Textor says the man wasn't resisting arrest.
When Ron Thomas spoke, he made three requests of the police department. First, he told Acting Police Chief Kevin Hamilton he wanted his word that when people file complaints, police take them seriously. Secondly, he asked Hamilton to suspend the policy of allowing officers to view videos before writing reports. And finally, he said he wants every officer in the department to be retrained on how to work with the mentally ill.
Before Thomas finished speaking, however, Mayor Richard Jones hit the gavel to signify that Thomas' time was up. Many in the audience weren't happy. "You cut off his son early, let him speak," said Nilou Rahmani, who also spoke during the public comment portion.
Just before Thomas finished speaking he told the mayor he wanted to have a close-door meeting with him sometime this week. Then, during the meeting's 10-minute recess, Jones and Thomas spoke and shook hands. The two men agreed to meet at 9 a.m. today, Thomas said.
Many of the night's most stinging remarks were directed toward City Manager Jospeh Felz, because there was an item on the agenda dealing with the possibility of raising his salary. "And you, asking for a raise, is this is a joke?" Christine Walker asked Felz. The council voted to move the item to its September 20 meeting.
A good amount of the public comment was directed toward Mayor Richard Jones, Mayor Pro Tem Don Bankhead and Councilman Pat McKinely. "It would be the height of a manly act to step down quietly," Chris Thompson, one of the speakers, told the three.
"It's tough, it's really tough," Councilwoman Sharon Quirk-Silva said after the council stopped for a 10-minute recess.
OCWeekly/ Marisa Gerber
Lori Textor told the city council that she saw a Fullerton police officer punch a man in the face.
OCWeekly/ Marisa Gerber
Ron and Cathy Thomas sit in the audience of the Fullerton City Council meeting.