Fullerton City Council hears from beaten man Kelly Thomas' father; city settles civil claim for $1 million

Joshua Sudock, Orange County Register, Pool photo

Ron Thomas, Kelly Thomas' father, speaks to the media following a preliminary hearing in which a judge agreed to uphold charges against two Fullerton police officers charged with the death of his son.

Fullerton City Council oversaw a discussion about the death of schizophrenic homeless man Kelly Thomas' death in a packed and emotional meeting Tuesday night. The victim, 37, died last July five days after he was involved in a violent altercation with officers that was captured on cell phone and surveillance cameras. His father, Ron Thomas, called for harsher punishment of a third officer who was on the scene.

"I demand that Joe Wolfe be terminated immediately," Thomas told the council. "He, as well as [Manuel] Ramos and [Jay] Cicinelli, should have been suspended without pay, pending further investigation, from the beginning.”

Wolfe is currently on paid administrative leave. Ramos and Cicinelli face arraignment May 22 in Santa Ana.

Thomas struggled to speak, choking up as he asked the council to fire the third officer, who was seen striking his son with a baton. He told the council to take charge of the city and the police department.

"You can no longer accept whatever the chief or acting chiefs tell you as the truth. You can no longer let the policeman’s bill of rights stand in the way what is required of you and what is morally the right thing to do," he added.

The raucous crowd spilled out of the meeting into the hallway. As the council began a public comment period, more than 30 attendees, including Fullerton City Council candidates, signed up to speak.

Fullerton City Mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva said that it was "heart-wrenching watching video [of Kelly Thomas' beating] last week," and "again, our condolences go out to [the] family."

Another speaker told the council that "viewing that tape rocked my soul and brought my wife to tears."

Someone wearing a "Kelly's Army' shirt said that "paid vacation for killing the innocent is not acceptable."

"There's something wrong with the leadership at the police department," said another.

Other speakers at the meeting asked the council to remove other officers not charged in connection with Kelly Thomas' death.

Fullerton City Attorney Richard Jones said the city has settled a civil claim with Kelly Thomas' mother, Cathy Thomas, for $1 million. Cathy Thomas' attorney said they hope the settlement helps Cathy move on with her "healing process." She's waived any future claims. The council voted 5-0 to accept the deal. Ron Thomas said he was surprised about settlement.

Thomas went on to say that he’s not focused on his own civil claim with the city right now. And he said any money he might receive will go toward the Kelly Thomas Memorial Fund to assist the homeless in Orange County.

This story has been updated.

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