California city to pay $4.9 million for killing of homeless man
November 24, 2015
The city of Fullerton has agreed to pay $4.9 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the father of a homeless man whom police beat to death in July 2011. [Reuters]
Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old homeless man with schizophrenia, died five days after police officers beat him and shocked him with a stun gun. A surveillance camera recorded footage of the killing, and the video sparked national outrage and street protests in Fullerton.
An Orange County jury acquitted officers Jay Cicinelli and Manuel Ramos of all criminal charges in January 2014. After the verdict, the FBI said it was re-examining the case.
Fullerton settled the civil case on Monday, the day the trial was scheduled to begin. Had the case gone to trial, the officers would have been forced to testify.
“We know the truth, and I wanted that truth brought out,” Kelly Thomas’s father, Ron Thomas, said at a news conference.
Ron Thomas filed suit against the city, the police department and Cicinelli and Ramos.
City officials previously paid Thomas’s mother $1 million to settle any claims she might bring. Thomas’s parents are divorced, and they litigated separately.
Legal fees have reportedly cost the city at least another $1 million.
Video footage of the killing showed Ramos strapping on latex gloves and telling Thomas, “You see theses fists? They are getting ready to fuck you up.”
Officers delivered multiple blows and shocks with a stun gun, the surveillance footage shows.
Thomas was heard on tape calling dozens of times for his father to help him. The mentally ill homeless man was yelling, “Daddy, they’re killing me.”