Finally, the Orange County Coroner’s Office has completed its report on the death of Kelly Thomas, the mentally ill homeless man who died after a violent confrontation with officers from the Fullerton Police Department. According to a KTLA news story, the findings of the Coroner have been turned over to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for consideration. Reportedly, a news conference is scheduled for tomorrow during which District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is expected to discuss what, if any, charges will be filed against the officers involved in the controversial arrest.
See the full KTLA news story HERE.
Medical records previously released show Thomas was originally taken from the scene of the incident to St. Jude Hospital in Fullerton. However, because his heart stopped, and he required a higher level of care for that and other reasons, he was emergently transported to UCI Medical Center. By the time he arrived there, Thomas’ pulse rate was very high, and his blood pressure dangerously low. He was exhibiting seizure activity, and one pupil was unreactive. For all intents and purposes, he was severely brain injured and the likelihood of any meaningful recovery was grim. The assessment of the emergency room physician was that Thomas had suffered blunt trauma, facial fractures, prolonged oxygen deprivation, facial lacerations, and shock, among other things. Also of note was the presence of a taser dart in the left chest area, suggesting a taser had been deployed by one of the Fullerton officers in violation of industry recommended guidelines. From the records released to date, it seems likely the Coroner’s Office will conclude the cause of Thomas’s death was homicide.
The extent of the beating Thomas received at the hands of the Fullerton Police is almost impossible to understand. With reports that at least six officers were present during the arrest, one has to wonder why so much trauma to the face and head would be necessary to control this rather diminutive man. The purpose of an arrest is to secure a subject’s presence in court before a judge, not to punish. Police officers are generally taught to use the least amount of force reasonably necessary to control a subject and take him into custody. In the Thomas case, he was reportedly being taken into custody for auto burglary, a property, nonviolent crime. The amount of force used on Thomas, as evidenced by the injuries documented in his medical records, would seem well beyond justification. Ideally, the Thomas family will see justice in both the civil and criminal courts.
Compensation for the victims of police misconduct should be an important concern for all Californians. When someone is beaten excessively by the police, the police department should be held accountable and compensation paid to the victim or the victim’s family. An Orange County police misconduct attorney with experience at handling such cases can make a fair assessment of these claims. Mr. Ralph has more than 20 years of experience handling personal injury cases, including just this type. He can be reached at 714-919-4415 for a FREE CONSULTATION.
Have you or a family member been a victim of an unlawful arrest or excessive use force at the hands of the police?
Nothing in this post is intended to suggest the Law Offices of Paul W. Ralph currently represents anyone involved in the news story above. This posting should not be construed as legal advice or an opinion on the merit of any particular matter. A consultation is the best way to obtain an assessment of your potential case.