At the bus depot where Thomas was beaten, well-wishers have created a memorial, with heart-shaped balloons, sunflowers and candles surrounding a street lamp, bearing a sign that reads, “In loving memory of Kelly Thomas … in God’s loving arms now” and “Shame on the Fullerton Police.”
Strangers stop to light candles or leave offerings. No one at the bus station Monday had witnessed the beating but several remembered Thomas.
“He was harmless,” said Amanda Hendrie, 22, who remembered he used to go into the Target store where she works. “You could tell that something was wrong, but it wasn’t a violent sort of disturbance.”
Thomas’ mother, Cathy Thomas, recalled him as a bright, loving kid before the onset of schizophrenia in his 20s. After that he struggled, going off and on his medication and on and off the streets.
He would stop by her house in Placentia but wouldn’t tell her where he was staying. She believed he had been in Fullerton for five or six months.
“The police officers who patrol there would have known him. They knew Kelly, they knew he had mental problems, and yet they did this to him,” she said.
His father, Ron Thomas, a retired Orange County sheriff’s deputy, said he doesn’t believe Kelly was trying to break into cars. The items in Kelly’s backpack that police believed were stolen may have been letters he had picked out of the trash outside a nearby attorney’s office, Ron Thomas said.
Kelly’s parents said they wanted to see all six of the police officers in jail. They expressed frustration with the city’s lack of action.
“They don’t know what to do, it’s clear, so they’re doing nothing,” he said.
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Video of Thomas’ beating
(caution: graphic images)
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