Local News

The Kelly Thomas Files Part 1: Notices to the Officers Who Were Fired and Disciplined

In compliance with California Senate Bill 1421 requiring police departments to release documents related to deaths of citizens and other incidents, this May the city of Fullerton released over 3200 pages of documents related to the death of Kelly Thomas in 2011, which gained national attention amid protests, the trial of two officers, the recall of 3 City Council members, and the aftermath.

The documents released include police reports, interviews with officers who were involved, transcripts of audio recordings of the incident, notices of discipline and dismissal, and more.

The files give a unique unvarnished window into the inner workings of the Fullerton police department in 2011, and provide a framework for understanding what meaningful changes have, and have not, been implemented since that time.

Amid the recent protests calling for police reform, reading the files helps formulate questions for our current police department—questions having to do with use of force training and policies, questions about public disclosure of important digital and audio files, questions about how police reports are generated, and more.

The Observer has decided to publish a series of articles focusing on various aspects of the released files.

Part 1 will include excerpts from official notices of discipline and dismissal that were written by former Police Chief Dan Hughes to the 3 officers who were fired over the incident, and the 3 who were disciplined. This is the starting point in our series because after the incident there was much debate as to whether what the officers did was wrong.

When the video of the incident was released, it became fairly clear that they did do wrong. However, the fact that the 2 officers who were charged with crimes were acquitted suggests that there was still belief among some (at least among that jury) that what the officers did was acceptable and did not rise to the level of a crime. Also, the fact that since their acquittal, Officers Cicinelli and Wolfe have sued the city of Fullerton to get their jobs back suggests a belief they were justified in what they did.

Reading the notices of dismissal and discipline gives the official Fullerton Police Department’s explanation of what happened and why the officers were fired. These are not the allegations of activists or protesters, but files generated by the Police Department itself, specifically former Police Chief Dan Hughes.

Jay Cicinelli Notice of Dismissal

From Police Chief Dan Hughes

July 19, 2012

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide you with notice of my decision dismissing you from employment with the City of Fullerton Police Department…

The grounds for the proposed dismissal are as follows:

When you arrived at the scene, Mr. Thomas was on his back on the ground. Officers Wolfe and Ramos were lying on top of him. Most of Mr. Thomas’ body was covered by Officers Ramos and Wolfe. Mr. Thomas was loudly and repeatedly exclaiming, “Okay” and “I’m sorry.” You quickly approached Thomas and immediately struck him twice with your knee on the right side of his head, near his ear.

In striking Mr. Thomas in the head with your knee you violated Fullerton Police Department Policy Manual Section 300.2 (Use of Force Policy). This also violated Policy Manual Section 340.3.S(t) (“exceeding lawful peace officer powers by unreasonable, unlawful, or excessive conduct). Under the circumstances, these violations warrant dismissal.

Here, while Officers Ramos and Wolfe were experiencing some difficulty in taking Mr. Thomas into custody, any threat posed by Mr. Thomas did not justify  striking him in the head with your knee. Mr. Thomas, who was shirtless and shoeless, was already smothered by police officers who outnumbered and outsized him, and [while he] repeatedly expressed that he was sorry. Moreover, although you have said that you intended the knee strikes to be “distraction blows,” you were not trained by the Department to deliver distraction blows to a person’s head.

Then, as Officer Wolfe and Officer Ramos held down Mr. Thomas with their body weight, you struck Mr. Thomas in the face multiple times with the butt of your Taser causing Mr. Thomas to bleed heavily from the face. Mr. Thomas continued to cry out as you struck him. Although you claim that your initial reason for striking Mr. Thomas with the Taser was that he had tried to grab the Taser from you, you acknowledge having already retained control of your Taser and that Mr. Thomas never tried to grab it again. After noticing the blood running from Mr. Thomas’ face, you stopped striking Mr. Thomas with your Taser.

Corporal Jay Cicinelli’s Taser (included in the files).

In striking Mr. Thomas in the face with your Taser, you violated Policy Manual section 300.2 (Use of Force Policy). This also violated Policy Manual Section 340.3.5(t) (“exceeding lawful peace officer powers by unreasonable, unlawful or excessive conduct.”) Under the circumstances, these violations warrant your dismissal.

One could reasonably predict that striking Mr. Thomas in the face with the butt of a Taser would cause him significant injury. There was no reason to strike him with the butt of the Taser once, let alone pummel him with it multiple times. Although Mr. Thomas was not yet handcuffed, he was outnumbered four to one. Moreover, while he was not necessarily complying with the commands of police officers, you acknowledge that officers were acting at cross purposes, making it difficult if not impossible for Mr. Thomas, who repeatedly expressed being sorry, to do what he was told. It was unreasonable under these circumstances to strike him in the face with a Taser.

I note that you did not make an isolated mistake that could be explained as having been the outgrowth of a stressful and rapidly evolving set of circumstances. From the moment you arrived on scene until the incident was concluded, you engaged in multiple instances of excessive force from kneeing Mr. Thomas in the head, to striking him in the face with your Taser.

As police officers, we are not always dealt ideal circumstances, and the individuals with whom we come into contact are not always perfect, yet the public has the right to expect that as law enforcement professionals we will act reasonably in all circumstances; that is a hallmark of our criminal justice system.

In light of the fact that there were never fewer than two officers present and only one citizen, that there was no evidence that Mr. Thomas was armed, the relatively low seriousness of the suspected offense or other reason for contact with Mr. Thomas, the relatively low potential for injury to citizens, officers, and suspects if Mr. Thomas were to escape, and the extreme distress that Mr. Thomas was in as demonstrated by his cries of apology, his calls for his father, his screams of pain, and his repeated statements that he could not breathe, a reasonable officer would not have applied the force that you did.

Immediately after the incident, you made the following statements to other officers while still at the scene:

•”I mean he was tossing us around like we were nothing and that was after I was thumping the s*#t out of him.”

• “We ran out of options so I got the end of my Taser and I probably just smashed his face to hell,”

•”I f*#ing probably beat him probably twenty times in the face with this Taser.”

 In making these statements, you violated Policy Manual section 340.3.5 (z) (“Any other on-duty or off-duty conduct which any employee knows or reasonably should know is unbecoming a member of the Department or which is contrary to good order, efficiency or morale, or which tends to reflect unfavorably upon the Department or its members”). Under the circumstances, this violation warrants dismissal.

Use of the phrases “thumping the sh*#t out of him,” “smashed his face,” and “beat” denote excessive use of force per se. These phrases give the impression of thuggishness and retribution. Your statements are unbecoming a member of the Fullerton Police Department and reflect unfavorably upon the Department and its members. Your words, in addition to your actions, cast the Department in a negative light and undermined the public’s trust in the Department, which is essential to our Department’s mission of maintaining the health, welfare, and safety of citizens.

You also did not activate your Digital Audio Recorder (DAR) during your contact with Mr. Thomas. Your violation impaired the Department’s investigation of this in-custody death by depriving the Department of potentially valuable information. Your failure to activate your DAR violated Policy Manual section 450.3.1

Also, while the Coroner found that the force that you applied was a cause of the death of Mr. Thomas, my decision is not dependent upon the cause of death. That is, even if Mr. Thomas had survived the incident, I believe that your conduct would still warrant termination of your employment.

Manuel Ramos Notice of Dismissal

From Police Chief Dan Hughes

May 21, 2012

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide you with notice of my preliminary determination that you should be dismissed from employment with the City of Fullerton Police Department…

This notice is not intended as an exhaustive recitation of the facts of the incident, but rather serves to highlight ways in which I believe that you violated department policies to a degree that warrants your dismissal. The grounds for the proposed dismissal are as follows:

On July 5, 2011, you and Officer Joseph Wolfe responded to a call for service regarding a person who was trying to open the doors of parked vehicles near the downtown Fullerton bus station. You and Officer Wolfe arrived at the location and initiated contact with a man later identified as Kelly Thomas.

There were no indicators that Mr. Thomas was armed or that you thought Mr. Thomas might be armed. In fact, neither you nor Officer Wolfe conducted a pat down search of Mr. Thomas. Moreover, you exhibited no signs of concern for your safety, at times coolly leaning up against a patrol vehicle, at other times casually standing with your legs crossed next to Mr. Thomas, who was seated, at other times turning your back completely on Mr. Thomas such that he could have escaped. Although you nonchalantly swung your baton at your side during your preliminary discussions with Mr. Thomas, I do not believe that this demonstrated concern on your part, but rather was an inappropriate and unnecessary exhibition of your authority.

While Mr. Thomas’ behavior was not entirely compliant, his behavior was not in any way threatening. In fact, you were sufficiently comfortable under the circumstances to engage in a casual conversation with an acquaintance who passed by the scene. After your conversation with your acquaintance, Mr. Thomas sat with his knees bent for approximately a minute and a half while you milled around next to him.

You then walked away from Mr. Thomas to where Officer Wolfe was inspecting the contents of Mr. Thomas’ backpack. Officer Wolfe informed you that he believed Mr. Thomas may be in possession of stolen mail. You walked back to where Mr. Thomas was sitting, still with his knees bent, and ordered him to put his legs straight out in front of him. You also told him you were ”not f*#@ing around anymore.”

When he eventually complied by putting his legs in front of him, you ordered Mr. Thomas to put his hands on his f*#@ing knees.” Mr. Thomas asked you, “Which one is it?” You said, “Both,” and Mr, Thomas stated that he could not do both. You replied to Mr, Thomas that he would have to “learn real quick” and told him to put his “f*#@ing hands” on his knees.

Mr. Thomas then assumed the seated posture you had ordered—feet out in front of him and hands on his knees. You then walked closer to Mr. Thomas and displayed your clenched fists, and said, “Now see my fists?” Mr. Thomas replied, “Yeah, what about ’em?” You then said, “They’re getting ready to f*#@ you up if you don’t start listening.”

In directing vulgar and threatening language at Mr. Thomas and showing him your fists in the manner in which you did, you violated Policy Manual section 340.3.2{a) (“unauthorized or unlawful fighting, threatening, or attempting to inflict unlawful bodily injury on another”) and Policy Manual section 340.3.2(i) (”discourteous, disrespectful or discriminatory treatment of any member of the public or any member of this department.”) Under the circumstances. including the fact that this behavior escalated a minor incident into an infamous incident of unreasonable force by you and certain colleagues, these violations each warrant dismissal.

I understand that Mr. Thomas was moderately disrespectful and did not always immediately comply with your orders, but you were the law enforcement professional and this Department’s representative on scene, and you should not have threatened him in the manner in which you did. Not only did your conduct in threatening Mr. Thomas cast this Department in a negative light, but I believe that you also unnecessarily escalated the tension.

It is concerning to me that at the time of the Incident with Mr. Thomas you were already on a Performance Improvement Plan in connection with an incident on January 28, 2010, during which you were determined to have made statements to a citizen that were irrelevant, demonstrated a lack of compassion and customer service, and were not consistent with the standards of a Fullerton Police Officer. You clearly should have known better than to make comments of the nature that you made to Mr. Thomas.

Mr. Thomas adjusted his position and again took his hands off his knees. You again ordered Mr. Thomas to put his hands on his knees. Mr. Thomas stated: “Well, hey I’m sick of playing games, which one is it?” You then aggressively grabbed or pushed Mr. Thomas’ shoulder, which was unnecessary to either defend yourself or apprehend Mr. Thomas, and instead appears to have agitated Mr. Thomas, who swiped defensively at you and stood up. Mr. Thomas put his hands up, without clenching his fists and with his open palms facing you, and started to slowly walk away from you and Officer Wolfe.

Officer Wolfe approached Mr. Thomas and struck him on the thigh with his baton. You then immediately struck Mr. Thomas in the lower left thigh with your baton. Mr. Thomas’ conduct prior to either baton strike did not justify the use of an impact weapon. While Mr. Thomas was mildly uncooperative, he was outsized and outnumbered, and was suspected only of stealing mail and attempting to break into cars by checking for unlocked doors. Moreover, at the time you first struck Mr. Thomas with your baton, his back was turned to you. You also never told him that he was under arrest despite the requirement of California Penal Code section 841 that you do so.

Officer Manuel Ramos’ baton (included in the files).

In striking Mr. Thomas with your baton, you violated Policy Manual section 300.2 (Use of Force Policy). section 300.2.1 (Use of Force to Effect an Arrest), and 308.2 (Baton Guidelines). Under the circumstances, these violations each warrant dismissal.

When Officer Wolfe struck Mr. Thomas with his baton, instead of following suit and striking Mr. Thomas with your baton yourself, you should have recognized that the force used by Officer Wolfe was unreasonable and interceded. Mr. Thomas’ behavior when sitting, then standing and walking, was not objectively threatening. Further, as described, your behavior during this interaction did not show you felt threatened.

In failing to intercede when you observed Officer Wolfe use objectively unreasonable force in striking Mr. Thomas with his baton, you violated Policy Manual section 300.1.2 (Duty to Intercede). Under the circumstances, including the fact that the ensuing use of force by you and your colleagues may have been avoided, this violation warrants dismissal.

After the baton strikes, you ordered Mr. Thomas to the ground and he did not comply. Nevertheless, you and Officer Wolfe apprehended Mr. Thomas. While Officer Wolfe engaged Mr. Thomas in a bear style hug, you wrapped your arms around Mr. Thomas’ upper body and with your body weight, took him to the ground. Mr. Thomas landed face first on the ground.

You applied your body weight on top of Mr. Thomas’ upper back, pressing Mr. Thomas into the ground. You ordered Mr. Thomas several times to put his hands behind his back as you pulled on his arm. Mr. Thomas stated that he could not do so. While Mr. Thomas was on the ground, he repeatedly said, “I’m sorry,” and “Okay.” You repeatedly ordered Mr. Thomas to place his hands behind his back, and he repeatedly replied that he could not. Much of the time, Mr. Thomas was face down on the ground with his arms underneath him. While on top of Mr. Thomas on the ground, you punched him several times in the ribs with your closed fist.

You and Officer Wolfe then continued to use your body weight to hold Mr. Thomas down on the ground. While you and Officer Wolfe were on top of Mr. Thomas, he repeatedly exclaimed that he could not breathe, and called out for help from his father, who was not present.

Officer Wolfe twice struck Mr. Thomas with his knee. Mr. Thomas continued to scream that he was sorry, and that he could not put his hands behind his back in response to your orders that he do so.

Corporal Jay Cicinelli and Officer Kenton Hampton arrived on the scene to assist you and Officer Wolfe.

While you and Officer Wolfe held Mr. Thomas on the ground, Corporal Cicinelli struck Mr. Thomas in the head with his knee. Corporal Cicinelli then used his Taser in drive stun mode to the torso and then with darts. Mr. Thomas reacted to the Taser applications by writhing and screaming. Officer Wolfe then punched Mr. Thomas multiple times in the head area with his fist. Corporal Cicinelli then began to strike Mr. Thomas in the face with the butt of his Taser.

You continued to apply your body weight to Mr. Thomas. Mr. Thomas repeatedly stated, “Help me, Dad” and once, “I can’t breathe.” Thomas’ voice changed from an energetic tone to lower guttural sounds that indicated a higher degree of distress. As you and the other officers continued to apply your body weight to Mr. Thomas, who was handcuffed, he moaned, “They’re killing me, Dad.”

Paramedics were called and transported Mr. Thomas to the hospital.

In both exerting your body weight upon, and punching Mr. Thomas, you used unreasonable force in violation of Policy Manual section 300.2 (Use of Force Policy) and section 300.2.1 (Use of Force to Effect an Arrest). Under the circumstances, these violations each warrant your dismissal.

I note that you did not make an isolated mistake which could be explained as having been the outgrowth of a stressful and rapidly-evolving set of circumstances. From your provocation of Mr. Thomas early in the encounter until the incident was concluded, you engaged in multiple instances of excessive force from striking Mr. Thomas with your baton, to punching him in the ribs, to applying your body weight such that you literally crushed him.

In light of the fact that there were never fewer than two officers present and only one citizen, that there was no evidence that Mr. Thomas was armed, the relatively low seriousness of the suspected offense or other reason for contact with Mr. Thomas, the relatively low potential for injury to citizens, officers, and suspects if Mr. Thomas were to escape, and the extreme distress that Mr. Thomas was in as demonstrated by his cries of apology, his calls for his father, his screams of pain, and his repeated statements that he could not breathe, a reasonable officer would not have applied the force that you did.

You also did not timely turn on your Digital Audio Recorder (DAR) at the initiation of your contact with Mr. Thomas. Your failure to activate your DAR violated Policy Manual section 450.3.1 (Required Activation of Audio Recorders (DAR)). Your failure to activate your DAR deprived the Department of potentially important evidence in its investigation of this incident. Under the circumstances, including your subsequent refusal to respond to questioning as described below and your resulting failure to explain why you did not activate your DAR, this violation warrants your dismissal.

Following the incident, you were scheduled to be interviewed by Michael Gennaco and Stephen Walsh of the Office of Independent Review on February 24, 2012. You appeared for your interview and were represented by an attorney. Prior to questioning, Sergeant Mike Chocek advised you of your rights under the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act, including but not limited to Government Code section 3303(h). However, upon the advice of your attorney, you declined to answer questions posed to you regarding the July 5, 2011 incident involving Mr. Thomas. Even after you were ordered by me to give a statement about the incident, you stated that you would not do so. In fact, when Mr. Gennaco asked you two specific questions about the incident, you declined to answer.

Your refusal to follow lawful orders to respond to questions about the July 5, 2011 incident violated Policy Manual section 340.3.5(e) (“disobedience or insubordination to constituted authorities, including refusal or deliberate failure to carry out or follow lawful directives and orders from any supervisor or person in a position of authority.”) Under the circumstances, this violation warrants your dismissal.

Similar to your failure to activate your DAR, your failure to submit to lawful questioning as part of the Department’s administrative investigation deprived the Department of important evidence…

Also, please note that while the Coroner found that the force that you applied was a cause of the death of Mr. Thomas, my decision is not dependent upon the cause of death. That is, even if Mr. Thomas had survived the incident, I believe that your conduct would still warrant termination of your employment.

Joseph Wolfe Notice of Dismissal

From Police Chief Dan Hughes

July 16, 2012

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide you with notice of my decision dismissing you from employment with the City of Fullerton Police Department.

On July 5, 2011, you and Officer Manuel Ramos responded to a call for service regarding a person who was trying to open the doors of parked vehicles near the downtown Fullerton bus station. You and Officer Ramos arrived at the location and initiated contact with a man later identified as Kelly Thomas.

There were no indicators that Mr. Thomas was armed or that you thought he might be armed. In fact, neither you nor Officer Ramos conducted a pat-down search of Mr. Thomas.

You obtained permission to, and searched Mr. Thomas’ backpack. You found what you suspected to be stolen mail in the backpack. While you continued to search the backpack, Officer Ramos ordered Mr. Thomas to sit with his legs straight in front of him and put his hands on his knees. Mr. Thomas stated that he was unable to comply with both demands. Officer Ramos and Mr. Thomas engaged in a mild verbal argument regarding Mr. Thomas’ ability to comply. Ultimately, Mr. Thomas stated, ‘Well, hey I’m sick of playing games, which one is it?” Officer Ramos then aggressively grabbed or pushed Mr. Thomas’ shoulder. This appears to have agitated Mr. Thomas, who swiped defensively at Officer Ramos and stood up. Mr. Thomas put his hands up, without clenching his fists and with his open palms facing Officer Ramos, and started to slowly walk away from you and Officer Ramos.

You approached Mr. Thomas and struck him on the thigh with your baton. Mr. Thomas’ conduct prior to your baton strike did not justify the use of an impact weapon. While Mr. Thomas was mildly uncooperative, he was outsized and outnumbered, and was suspected only of stealing mail and attempting to break into cars by checking for unlocked doors. Moreover, at the time you first struck Mr. Thomas with your baton, he was facing away from you. You also never told him that he was under arrest despite the requirement of California Penal Code section 841 that you do so. In striking Mr. Thomas with your baton, you violated Policy Manual section 300.2 (Use of Force Policy); section 300.2.1 (Use of Force to Effect an Arrest), and 308.2 (Baton Guidelines). Under the circumstances, these violations warrant dismissal.

After the baton strikes, Mr. Thomas was ordered to the ground and he did not comply. While you engaged Thomas in a bear style hug, Officer Ramos wrapped his arms around Mr. Thomas’ upper body and with your combined body weight, you took him to the ground. Mr. Thomas landed face first on the ground. While Mr. Thomas was on the ground, he repeatedly said, “I’m sorry,” and “Okay.” Officer Ramos instructed Mr. Thomas to place his hands behind his back, but Mr. Thomas did not comply. Much of the time Mr. Thomas was face down on the ground with his arms underneath him.

While you and Officer Ramos had Mr. Thomas pinned to the ground, you then punched Mr. Thomas twice in the shoulder area with your right fist.

You and Officer Ramos then continued to use your body weight to hold Mr. Thomas down on the ground. While you and Officer Ramos were on top of Mr. Thomas, he repeatedly exclaimed that he could not breathe, and called out for help from his father, who was not present. You twice struck Mr. Thomas with your knee. Mr. Thomas continued to scream that he was sorry, and that he could not put his hands behind his back in response to your orders that he do so.

Corporal Jay Cicinelli and Officer Kenton Hampton arrived on the scene to assist you and Officer Ramos. While you and Officer Ramos held Mr. Thomas on the ground, Corporal Cicinelli struck Mr. Thomas in the head with his knee. Corporal Cicinelli then used his Taser in drive stun mode to the torso and then with darts. Mr. Thomas reacted to the Taser applications by writhing and screaming. Immediately after Corporal Cicinelli applied his Taser to Mr, Thomas, you punched Mr. Thomas multiple times in the head area with your fist. Corporal Cicinelli then began to strike Mr. Thomas in the face with the blunt end of his Taser.

You continued to apply your body weight to Mr. Thomas. Mr. Thomas repeatedly stated, ”Help me, Dad” and once, “I can’t breathe.” Thomas’ voice changed from an energetic tone to lower guttural sounds that indicated a higher degree of distress. As you and the other officers continued to apply your body weight to Mr. Thomas, who was handcuffed, he moaned, “They’re killing me, Dad.” Paramedics were called and transported Mr. Thomas to the hospital.

In exerting your body weight upon Mr. Thomas, and punching him in the shoulder and head, and striking him with your knee, you used unreasonable force in violation of Policy Manual section 300.2 (Use of Force Policy) and section 300.2.1 (Use of Force to Effect an Arrest). Under the circumstances, these violations each warrant your dismissal. Please note that any of the three types of force described, i.e. exertion of your body weight, punching, and striking Mr. Thomas with your knee, were unreasonable and, standing alone, would each justify dismissal.

Officer Joe Wolfe’s pants (included in the files).

I note that you did not make an isolated mistake which could be explained as having been the outgrowth of a stressful and rapidly evolving set of circumstances. From early in the encounter until the incident was concluded, you engaged in multiple instances of excessive force from striking Mr. Thomas with your baton, to punching him in the shoulder, to striking him with your knee, to punching him in the head, to applying your body weight such that you literally crushed him. As police officers, we are not always dealt ideal circumstances, and the individuals who we contact are not always perfect, yet the public has the right to expect that as law enforcement professionals we will act reasonably in all circumstances; that is a hallmark of our criminal justice system.

In light of the fact that there were never fewer than two officers present and only one person, that there was no evidence that Mr. Thomas was armed, the relatively low seriousness of the suspected offense or other reason for contact with Mr. Thomas, the relatively low potential for injury to citizens, officers, and Mr. Thomas if Mr. Thomas were to escape, and the extreme distress that Mr. Thomas was in as demonstrated by his cries of apology, his calls for his father, his screams of pain, and his repeated statements that he could not breathe, a reasonable officer would not have applied the force that you did.

Following the incident, you prepared a police report describing the incident. In your report, you wrote, “I saw THOMAS stand up, turn and face Officer Ramos. THOMAS placed his feet apart and was standing in an aggressive stance, with his hands to his side, and it appeared he was clenching his fists. I ran to the front of Officer Ramos’ patrol vehicle where Officer Ramos and THOMAS were standing. I removed my baton and told Thomas to get on the ground. I told him to do this several times and he did not comply. I swung my baton at Thomas’ left leg striking him on his left leg.”

Mr. Thomas did not tum to face Officer Ramos, place his feet apart, or take an aggressive stance toward Officer Ramos at any time between standing up and you striking him with your baton. In writing your report, I believe that you exaggerated the threat to your fellow officer to justify the level of force that you used upon Mr. Thomas.

Your dishonesty violated Policy Manual section 304.3.5(i) (‘’the falsification of any work-related records. the making of misleading entries or statements with the intent to deceive, or the willful and unauthorized destruction and/or mutilation of any department record, book, paper, or document”) and Policy Manual section 340.3.5(m). (”work-related dishonesty, including attempted or actual theft of department property, services or the property of others, or the unauthorized removal or possession of department property or the property of another person.”) Under the circumstances, these violations warrant your dismissal.

Following the incident, you were scheduled to be interviewed by Mr. Gennaco and Mr. Walsh of the Office of Independent Review on February 3. 2012. You appeared for your interview and were represented by an attorney. Prior to questioning, Sergeant Mike Chocek advised you of your rights under the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act, including but not limited to Government Code section 3303(h). However, upon the advice of your attorney, you declined to answer questions posed to you regarding the July 5, 2011 incident involving Mr. Thomas. Even after you were ordered by me to give a statement about the incident, you stated that you would not do so. In fact, when Mr. Gennaco asked you three specific questions about the incident, you declined to answer.

Your refusal to follow lawful orders to respond to questions about the July 5, 2011 incident violated Policy Manual section 340.3.5(e) (”disobedience or insubordination to constituted authorities, including refusal or deliberate failure to carry out or follow lawful directives and orders from any supervisor or person in a position of authority”). Under the circumstances, this violation warrants your dismissal.

Your failure to submit to lawful questioning as part of the Department’s administrative investigation deprived the Department of important evidence.

Please note that any one of the violations specified in this notice would, standing alone warrant your dismissal. The inability to substantiate one or more of the foregoing charges shall not result in your dismissal being overturned.

Also, please note that while the Coroner found that the force that you applied was a cause of the death of Mr. Thomas, my decision is not dependent upon the cause of death. That is, even if Mr. Thomas had survived the incident, I believe that your conduct would still warrant termination of your employment.

Kelly Thomas in the hospital, prior to his death.

Jim Blatney Notice of Discipline

From Police Chief Dan Hughes

August 27, 2012

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide you with notice of my decision of discipline as a result of your action’s in the Kelly Thomas incident…

I have determined you violated Department Policy Section 450.3.1 Required Activation of Audio Recorders (DAR). My finding is based on the fact you responded to the incident on July 5, 2011 and failed to activate your digital audio recorder as required by Fullerton Police Department Policy.

I am imposing the following discipline:

1. Reprimand from the Chief of Police

2. Transfer from the Patrol Division to tile Investigation Division to an assignment selected by the Chief of Police

[Ed.—More on Blatney’s involvement based on DAR recordings and interviews in Part 2]

Kevin Craig Notice of Discipline

By Police Chief Dan Hughes

August 27, 2012

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide you with notice of my decision of discipline as a result of your action’s in the Kelly Thomas incident…

I have determined you violated Department Policy Section 340.3.5, Performance and 340.3.8, Supervision Responsibility. My finding is based on your relative inaction to take control of the scene and provide supervisory direction to the Officers involved in this incident.

I have also determined you violated Department Policy Section 450.3.1 Required Activation of Audio Recorders (DAR) when you responded to the scene and failed to activate your DAR upon arriving…

As an employee of this Department you are expected to understand and follow the Policies and Procedures as set forth by this Department. In determining the appropriate level of discipline for the aforementioned conduct, I have considered the contents of your entire personnel file. I am imposing the following discipline:

1. Reprimand from the Chief of Police

 2. Transfer from the Patrol Division to the Investigation Division to an assignment selected by the Chief of Police

3. Additional training in Crisis Management

[Ed.—More on Craig’s involvement based on DAR recordings and interviews in later edition]

Kenton Hampton Notice of Discipline

From Police Chief Dan Hughes

August 27, 2012

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide you with notice of my decision of discipline as a result of your action’s in the Kelly Thomas incident…

I have determined you violated Department Policy Section 450.3.1 Required Activation of Audio Recorders (DAR). My finding is based on the fact you responded to the incident on July 5, 2011, and failed to activate your digital audio recorder as required by Fullerton Police Department Policy.

As an employee of this Department you are expected to understand and follow the Policies and Procedures as set forth by this Department In determining the appropriate level of discipline for the aforementioned conduct, I have considered the contents of your entire personnel file. I am imposing the following discipline:

1. Reprimand from the Chief of Police

2. Transfer from Patrol Division to the Investigation Division to an assignment selected by the Chief of Police

[Ed.—More on Hampton’s involvement based on DAR recordings and interviews in later edition]

Part 2 of this series will summarize the interviews conducted by the Office of Independent Review with all of the officers involved.

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5 replies »

  1. It may be comforting to some to believe police brutality are isolated incidents or result from a subterranean corrupt cop culture; the proverbial bad apples. And this may be true in some instances of cops abusing the populace when enforcing the law. This is not true for the city of Fullerton. Kelly Thomas beaten to death by Fullerton Police dramatically revealed the years of this city’s abuse inflicted upon it residents. Suspicious jail suicides, female detainees molested while in custody, perjury that sent innocent people to prison, broken bones due to police excessive force revealed in the wake of Kelly Thomas beating death at the hands of Fullerton’s police officers. This decades long abuse of the public by Fullerton police was due to a concerted effort by its municipal government, Orange County’s district attorneys and the Orange County Human Relations Commission. From Fullerton’s government quietly paying court ordered damages to victims of its police officers abuse, to a district attorney who always backed the police regardless of the facts to a county commission that held itself out as the safe place for victims of police abuse to lodge their complaints and seek justice only to realize this commission the water boy for Orange County’s police departments. Fullerton’s police officers knew they could get away with murder and they did get off for the murder of Kelly Thomas because they knew from experience that Fullerton’s city council would lie to the public to protect them ( remember Fullerton City Councilperson Pat McKinley appearing on CNN adamantly denying his police officers beat Kelly Thomas to death), District Attorney Rauckaukus(?) long history of legally excusing police brutality and the CEO of Orange County Human Relations Commission stating to,the public that it was the community of Fullerton’s indifference to Kelly Thomas homelessness that killed him, not Fullerton police. If Fullerton Observer wants to highlight police brutality, then research and expose the machinations that gave rise to Fullerton Police Department’s corruption. Publishing reports obtained from Fullerton PD is not investigative journalism that enlightens your readers.

  2. A friend of mine lived in West Fullerton for some years, and when he left, he said of his neighborhood, “Thugs, bugs, and drugs…and some of the thugs are cops.”

    There are two Fullertons…and two kinds of cops.

    What makes me despair is the decent cops who won’t pull back on the thuggish cops when they go medieval…that’s “Aiding and Abetting”, no two ways about it.

    Most P.D.’s need to up their psych screenings, and make them mandatory each year for each cop; good cops crack under the strain too.

    Reforms ARE needed.

    • In 2011, the year Kelly Thomas was murdered, six officers in the State of California were killed in the line of duty. Two feloniously and four accidentally. What I don’t understand is the relevance of those statistics to the killing of Kelly Thomas and the dismissal of the officers by Chief Hughes. Is the fact that officers die in the line of duty somehow justification for what happened to Thomas in your mind? Do you believe the officers were treated unfairly? Were the conclusions reached by the chief wrong?

  3. Reading this makes me sick. I was born in Fullerton and left there after 60 years, three years ago. it is a cesspool now.

    1 year before our family left, I had a personal one on one call to my home on a mental health call. The FPD officers learned nothing from the past, they treated me like a criminal instead of a distraught person wanting to die. I knew it would not pay to complain, and then we left Fullerton. Karma is real.

    I’m all about celebrating those that protect and serve in the line of duty, but the story is not about those people. The story is about the thugs who killed Kelly Thomas and their lies, finally in print. Makes me wanna vomit.

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