California city to pay $4.9 million for killing of homeless man

November 24, 2015
Kelly Thomas in the hospital

Kelly Thomas in the hospital

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.”

Russ J

These cops should be in jail. WTF was this jury thinking? Kelly Thomas’s dad should have taken this to trial. The world needs to know that the officers involved are as evil as gang F’s in L.A.


Not to say this is OK in any way shape of form, but how does $4.9 million make this any better? Might as well go door to door in ca and empty everybody’s wallets cause that’s who is ultimately paying for this.


The $4.9 million gets the _attention_ of the people who do the hiring and firing, so as to lessen the risk of paying large sums in the future.


those thugs who wear the uniform need to be in prison, they beat a man to death.


If this happened in 2011 and “…the FBI said it was re-examining the case.” and have done nothing to date there has to be more to this story. Eric Holder would have been all over this if it was clean and simple.

I worked in a public building for years and people do not understand the behavior of these people under normal ccircumstances, like going into the public restroom and they are naked and doing their laundry and you ask them to plese put on clothes as children come in frequently and they go off on you and become totally out of control because of no mediation. Until you have been attacked by one of these young, powerful, out of control people stop pointing fingers with the facts. The fact they used a laser gun and this happened stays the laser gun did not control the victim. This is all sad, and I am sure some cases are just brutialty, but please, I do not think this is done for pleasure.

Again, something has to be done for the homeless and mentally ill. That is the real problem!

Francesca Bolognini

They beat him to death. I do not see how any person with a shred of compassion could find him deserving of that . The police quote in the article says it all, and directly implies that indeed, it was done with pleasure. Why else would the city settle out of court? A trial would have found the city culpable of employing psychopaths and cost them a fortune.

How would you feel if this were your son, who had a mental illness and adequate treatment was not availabpe to him? We have cut so many programs for the mentally ill and given the money away in corporate welfare to super rich individuals. It is no fun to tangle with someone who is off their meds, but there are certainly better ways of handling the situation than beating them to death. Look at the picture. There is no excuse for that!


That’s part of the problem, it actually cost city nothing, the city taxpaying residents are the ones that are going to pay, the city administration, the police department management, or anyone involved is paying nothing.

Francesca Bolognini



This one that just happened in SF made me pissed when i came across it:

Being in a position of authority can really bring out the bully in someone. That’s what power does. More stringent psych testing and mandatory body cameras are only just a start.

Jorge Estrada

It appeared that he was running from the cops. Was a crime committed, was he caught in the act of a crime, was it an act of brutality or was the victim a child? Too many questions but one thing for certain he was fast food, shake and baked then delivered. He is very fortunate that SF is extremely gun unfriendly.

Jorge Estrada

Why didn’t they cuff him and bring him in when they found the stolen mail?


This picture really tells the story. But, seriously, I want to know the police officers are properly incarcerated with no access to lubrication at any given point in time.


I realize I did not read the whole article….and knew it was likely I did not see the fine print. So, both were acquitted? What a sad & sickening world….


thank god for all the video phones and other video, cops have been getting away with abuse of their power for years and of course nobody believed it was happening until nowadays when we can actually videotape it with our phones. always turn your phones video on whenever you get pulled over, just in case.


The video is very telling from the very beginning as the cop spins his baton in his hand attempting to intimidate the victim.

this was a well planned, deliberate assault of an u unarmed man. It’s despicable and revolting.


I call it predatory policing.

Just be grateful this guy wasn’t Muslim!