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OC homeless man had 92 police run-ins before death

Posted: October 19, 2012 5:00 a.m.
Updated: October 19, 2012 5:00 a.m.

FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) — A homeless, mentally ill man who died after a confrontation with Fullerton police had nearly 100 run-ins with officers in the years before his death, according to documents obtained by a newspaper.

Kelly Thomas was the subject of 92 police reports between 1990 and his death last summer, the Orange County Register reported Thursday ( ).

Prosecutors say Thomas was an unassuming victim of police brutality when officers used excessive force in a confrontation with him. Thomas died five days later from his injuries.

Attorneys defending three Fullerton officers charged in Thomas' death say he was a troublemaker who refused police orders.

According to a criminal history compiled by the Orange County district attorney's office, Thomas was arrested 27 times, most often for low-level crimes like trespassing.

A third of the 92 police contacts were listed as "field interviews" that resulted in no law enforcement action.

Thomas was jailed in one felony case after he assaulted his grandfather with a fireplace poker in 1995. Thomas pleaded guilty to the unprovoked attack and was sentenced to 270 days in jail.

According to a psychological examination in the court file from that case, a doctor concluded Thomas had impaired brain function because of drug abuse. Thomas said he began using drugs in the fifth grade and had used alcohol, hallucinogens, marijuana and methamphetamine.

Some of Thomas' interactions with police dealt with inappropriate and sometimes aggressive behavior.

Thomas was arrested on suspicion of assault after he punched a man who asked him to leave a Christmas party where he allegedly greeted a 14-year-old girl by saying "hey sexy." He was never prosecuted in that case.

Thomas pleaded guilty to urinating in public in 2008 after an Anaheim child-care center reported that he was urinating in front of children. He was arrested in 2010 after an Anaheim fruit vendor said he threw rocks at her.

Former Fullerton officers Manuel Ramos, Jay Cicinelli and Joseph Wolfe have all been charged in Thomas' death and have all pleaded not guilty. Ramos was charged with second-degree murder and the other officers were charged with involuntary manslaughter. The three also face other charges.



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