By Tony Saavedra, Orange County Register | When Kelly Thomas died nearly nine years ago, the initial police reports portrayed him as a criminal suspect, a homeless schizophrenic who “assaulted” six Fullerton patrol officers.
He now is remembered as the victim in one of the worst police beatings in national history, triggering major reforms in how officers deal with the homeless. That change in attitude is evident in the documents released Tuesday by the city of Fullerton in compliance with new state police transparency laws.
The initial reports in the Thomas case said patrol officers were injured on July 5, 2011, while trying to arrest him. Those injuries turned out to be a scratch on the arm of one officer. Thomas did not survive the encounter, dying of his injuries five days later in a hospital.
The records offer a detailed view into what happened the night that Fullerton officers, no longer with the department, hit Thomas, 37, with their fists, wooden batons and the back end of a Taser gun — smacking him so hard that he called out for his “daddy.” The officers called themselves victims.
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