A Very Sad Life

Kelly Thomas was a 37 year-old homeless man suffering from schizophrenia and roaming the streets of Fullerton, California. According to locals he wasn’t aggressive, belligerent or a ongoing nuisance other than he was homeless and committed a variety of petty crimes to survive. Kelly Thomas was also the son of a former Orange County Sheriff’s deputy.

On July 5, 2011 Fullerton, California police responded to a call regarding an individual spotted breaking into cars. They attempted to arrest Kelly Thomas but discovered the 135 pound homeless man wasn’t going without a fight. Six Fullerton police officers joined the pile-on, pummeling the living shit out of Mr. Thomas in plain view of spectators. Kelly’s injuries were substantial and he died in hospital five days later. Fullerton police have been silent about the case and Kelly’s father is demanding the officers responsible be charged with murder. I agree.

It’s another story of injustice, police brutality and the plight of the homeless repeated in practically every city all over the world. Kelly was one of a multitude of lost, mentally ill people wandering the streets in our cities and the victims of their own pathetic life paths. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of the ‘give ’em drugs and money and hope they get better’ types that appear to run most of the cities here on the west coast.

I have little time for those that won’t help themselves but this situation is about mental illness not laziness. The thing that struck me about this story is how Kelly appears to have been a victim of not just the Fullerton police department but his family and the system that allowed him to wander the streets in a schizophrenic daze. His father, Ron Thomas, appeared on a Los Angeles radio talk show (John & Ken on KFI AM 640) and spoke about his son and what lead to his life on the street.

During the interview I couldn’t help but think that his father may not have done enough to prevent his son’s death as he didn’t appear to be terribly forthcoming about how Kelly’s life had ended up and why he, as a responsible parent, couldn’t or didn’t help. I may be off base here but that’s the way it sounds to me.

Another interesting aspect to this story is that the story didn’t break within California or indeed within the United States. The Daily Mail newspaper in the UK published the story which in turn led to interest by American media. Kelly’s story didn’t appear to be interesting enough to warrant any coverage until another country deemed it so which makes me wonder how many stories like this are never reported.

Click the play button below to hear the Ron Thomas audio interview on KFI AM 640. I’ve also included a Youtube video taken by a spectator during the beating. You can clearly hear Kelly as he cries out for his father while being beaten and tasered by the police.

A very sad end to a very sad life.

Click play button to hear Ron Thomas interview


  1. craig   •  

    Holy shit that’s a sad story.

  2. Will Telish   •  

    Kelly Thomas was an aggressive and dangerous buffoon. Until people are actually in the boots of a cop, don’t be so fast to judge. Kelly’s dad is pounding the war drum on this matter but where the hell was he all these years? I’m sure he was caring for his son and providing the best in-house treatment. They say that Kelly didn’t want treatment; that’s all bullshit. All schizos say “no” to treatment. A forceful caring family will haul that schizo’s butt to treatment and make him stay there. Only when $$$ pops up, you have dad coming out of the wood works. Get a life. I have about 12 years of law enforcement experience here in Los Angeles and Newport Beach. I know what the hell I’m talking about.

  3. sharon   •  

    No question, the job of any big city cop must be tough but the fact remains they beat a mentally ill man to death. How is that justifiable?

  4. Brandon C.   •  

    If you are trying to justify the beating you deserve the fate this poor man received. If several cops cant restrain a 135 lb man you have no business trying to uphold the law. They could have easily tased him and restrained him or pepperspray. Would have stopped him in his tracks but no you guys had to keep up lapd’s great track record and ruthlessly beat another man, this time to death. Theres a proper way to do things and an improper way i think everyone involved should be in prison for life or given the death penalty. There is NO excuse and or reasoning someone had to be beaten at all, ignorant police officers like you “will telish” (nice fake name btw you coward) blindly defending these PIGS actions reallly disheartens me on the state we live in. Let me reiterate i dont hate police officers, well not all of them. A life was lost without reason and you all deserve to pay.

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