At a Los Angeles news conference, Attorney Garo Mardirossian points to medical records he says indicates Fullerton homeless man Kelly Thomas died of brain injuries caused by head trauma. Seated next to Mardirossian (right) is Thomas' father, Ron Thomas.
The family of a mentally ill homeless man who died in July contends that an officer involved in the case is actually connected to police abuse of three men. Lawyers for that family introduced a man they say is a third victim of the same officer Friday.
The lawyers presented a 27-year-old student who says he was beaten during an arrest last year by Fullerton police officer Kenton Hampton. He’s one of the officers involved in a violent confrontation with Kelly Thomas who died from his injuries.
Eddie Quinonez told reporters he was waiting outside a bar for a friend last year when Hampton confronted him. He claims the officer slammed his head against a wall during an arrest for public drunkenness.
Quinonez says he demanded a blood test that proved he had not been drinking. The Anaheim resident was released. He then filed a personnel complaint against the officer. He claims the Fullerton Police Department ignored it.
"Had they listened to Eddie or Veth Mam, we would not have had Kelly brutalized, beaten to death by six Fullerton police officers, the leader of which was Officer Hampton," said attorney Garo Mardirossian.
When Fullerton police allegedly beat Kelly Thomas in July, Quinonez says he was on a bus full of passengers who saw it happen. And he says he immediately recognized Hampton.
The attorneys say they plan to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Fullerton Police Department on behalf of Quinonez and Kelly Thomas. A federal lawsuit has already been filed on behalf of a third alleged victim—Veth Mam.
A spokesman for Fullerton police said the department did investigate Quinonez’s complaint and a disposition was reached. But he cannot comment on the personnel matter. Hampton and five other officers involved in the Kelly Thomas case are on leave pending the result of federal and local investigations.
Clarification: This story originally said the officer was allegedly connected to three "beatings." That word was changed to abuse. The spelling of the officer's first name has also been corrected.