[UPDATE: Thomas' Previous Slidebar Encounters] Sources: Slidebar Kitchen Placed Call Resulting in Kelly Thomas' Death

UPDATE, AUGUST 23 2011, 5:35 P.M.: We've got Slidebar co-owner Jeremy Popoff's reaction to Kelly Thomas' death, as told to local blog Fullerton Stories. See bottom of post for update.

ORIGINAL POST 4:23 P.M.: Of the many mysteries currently swirling around the death of Kelly Thomas, one rises above the rest: Who placed the phone call that led to six police officers confronting Thomas and leaving him a bloody, dying pulp?

Many names have been bandied around on message boards and during the weekly Saturday protests that have occurred outside the Fullerton Police Station since his death, but sources tell the Weekly the phone call came from downtown Fullerton's popular Slidebar Rock-n-Roll Kitchen, co-owned by Jeremy Popoff of Lit fame.

Andrew Youssef/OC Weekly
Jeremy Popoff at a Lit show at the House of Blues, Anaheim, Jan. 29, 2011.

The sources (who requested anonymity but have intimate knowledge of the incident) told the Weekly that a Slidebar manager placed a call to police because Thomas was standing outside the Slidebar's patio, glaring at customers. (Police have publicly stated that whoever placed the call was complaining that someone was breaking into cars.) The restaurant-cum-performance lounge, located at 122 E. Commonwealth Ave., sits adjacent to the Fullerton Transportation Center, where Thomas was approached July 5 by Fullerton's finest. Thomas was well-known to patrons of the many businesses around the Transportation Center, where he frequently asked for handouts from the Train Depot to the area around Slidebar.

Multiple calls were placed to the Slidebar and one to Popoff's publicist, both asking for comment; the former said a spokesperson would get back to us, the latter requested we send them written questions before commenting, which the Weekly did. Both have yet to respond at press time, and we will publish their responses when we receive them.

On the influential Friends for Fullerton's Future blog--which has far and away been the go-to guide for the Thomas killing--the comments section is alight with accusations pointing the finger at someone at the Slidebar, even though an Aug. 21 post notes the department has not disclosed from where the call for service originated. Comments on the board, which numbered 388 at noon today, ranged from the angry to downright defamatory, but none has been taken down. One of the less-inflammatory messages read that Popoff "didn't make the call. A Slidebar manager did. That person feels awful for following Jeremy's policy to call FPD in a particular manner (reporting a crime in progress) that allows them to be aggressive from the get-go." 

Reactions on Slidebar's Yelp page have been as angry. On Aug. 15, someone left a photo of Thomas in better days with the caption "Kelly before the Slidebar assisted in his murder."

From the Slidebar's Yelp page...
The same Yelper also posted the infamous photo of Kelly's purpled face with another mocking caption: "Kelly Thomas. Look at this, Jeremy."

From the Slidebar's Yelp page . . .
An attempt to examine the Fullerton Police's press blotter, typically viewable by the public, resulted in a referral to the department's technical services manager, Julie Langstaff, who explained the log is only viewable for seven days following the incident, after which it is no longer available.

UPDATE, AUGUST 23 2011, 5:35 P.M.: Local blog Fullerton Stories quoted Slidebar co-owner Jeremy Popoff in an article posted on July 23, days after Kelly Thomas died. "I feel guilty ever having contempt for this guy, but if you had asked me about him a month ago, I'd have nothing good to say about him. I don't want to say it was justified, what happened. But man, Kelly scared people. We . . . were always having to kick him out of our bathrooms or tell him to leave customers alone. Then he would yell at us."

Because of those comments, a Facebook page was set up calling for a boycott of the Slidebar.

"Slidebar spreads misinformation about Kelly Thomas' character for promotional reasons," the Facebook page read--but it no longer exists, taken down by someone. Here's the screen grab:

From the since-deleted "Boycott Slidebar" Facebook page...

The Weekly's previous coverage of Thomas' death:

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