This video, shot on July 5 by a student in Fullerton, California, ostensibly features the sounds of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas crying for his father while being Tased by police officers after he supposedly resisted arrest. Thomas was also beaten so badly that he was placed on life support. He died several days later.

Thomas—who suffered from schizophrenia, and was homeless—caught the attention of the police after someone reported that a burglar was breaking into cars parked near a Fullerton bus station. When officers approached Thomas in the depot parking lot and tried to arrest him, he resisted. What happened after that is a topic the Fullerton Police Department doesn't seem too enthusiastic to discuss—but the sound of Thomas's voice certainly speaks on their behalf. And as this gruesome photo shows, the six officers involved in the altercation beat Thomas beyond recognition; after several days on life support, Thomas was taken off the machines and died. (To be fair, two cops suffered broken bones.) Update: According to this report, a police sergeant stated on July 20 that, contrary to several news reports, no officers suffered from broken bones as a result of the Thomas incident—only "soft tissue damage."

Did Thomas actually resist arrest? Mark Turgeon, who witnessed the beating, says no:


"They kept beating him and Tasering him. I could hear zapping, and he wasn't even moving," said Turgeon. "He had one arm in front of him like this, he wasn't resisting. And they kept telling him, 'He's resisting, quit resisting,' and he wasn't resisting."

Turgeon's depiction of Thomas as a peaceful, passive person aligns with most of the public comments made by people in the Fullerton community in the aftermath of the beating. Though some community members regarded him as scary and prone to angry outbursts, most people who saw him around town say otherwise. At the website Fullerton Stories, several people have shared their experiences interacting with Thomas—describing him as "very quiet and polite," "gentle and a childlike," "sweet," and "never a threat." Thomas did plead guilty to assault with a deadly weapon about 16 years ago—which, FWIW, seemed to coincide with the onset of his illness.


Since Thomas's death, his family and members of the community have held protests outside the police department headquarters, looking for answers but not really getting any. Thomas's dad, a former sheriff's deputy, has been particularly vocal—calling his son's death "'gang-involved, the way I see it—a gang of rogue officers who brutally beat my son to death," and stating that he now feels ashamed for having ever been a law enforcement officer.

The Fullerton cops are remaining silent on the particulars of what happened, but say they've invited the local district attorney to conduct an investigation. While the local mayor seems content to mutter nonsensical things about the course of action that should be taken, local city council member Bruce Whitaker has called for a "clear, factual and complete explanation of events which led to the death of Kelly J. Thomas." Whitaker wants the D.A. to release a police video that apparently shows the actual beating taking place.

[KABC, video via OC Weekly]