Sellers notified the city manager today that his doctor had placed him on medical leave, according to the statement. Click here to read the press release.
City Concilman Pat McKinley
, who was Fullerton's police chief before Sellers, tells the Orange County Register
that Sellers will not return.
That's fine with scores of residents who have been calling on the chief to step down in the wake of the Kelly Thomas
|Courtesy of Fullertonsfuture.org |
UPDATED, AUGUST 9, 12:10 P.M.: Soon there could be another pair of investigative eyes on the Kelly Thomas case.
Gennaco, who heads the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review, a watchdog agency created in 2001, has a history of prosecuting police misconduct cases. In the early '90s, he prosecuted a case against two LAPD officers who used excessive force against an undocumented youth. Both officers were convicted, Gennaco tells the Weekly.
Gennaco says he began discussions with the city of Fullerton last week. If the city council follows Felz's recommendation to hire him, Gennaco says the Thomas case will serve as the starting point of his review.
"The Kelly Thomas case will educate us as to where the issues are and then we'll broaden our review based on where our issues take us," Gennaco says, adding that he'd look into the police department's training practices and hiring standards.
UPDATED, AUGUST 9, 9:24 A.M.: A man who allegedly witnessed Kelly Thomas' beating says he saw a police officer confiscate the cell phone of a woman filming the incident.
Edward, who says he has already been interviewed by the district attorney's office about what he saw that night, allegedly heard a police officer say, "You're interfering with my investigation. I would appreciate if you don't take pictures."
The officer eventually confiscated the woman's cell phone and took her behind the cop car, Edward says, adding that he's not sure if the officer ever gave the cell phone back to the woman, whom he describes as a short, heavy-set woman in her 40s.
UPDATED, AUGUST 5, 6:49 P.M.:
Following in Fullerton City Councilwoman Sharon Quirk-Silva'
s footsteps, Councilman Bruce Whitaker
told a TV news station
that he, too, is calling on Police Chief Michael Sellers
to resign. And, if he doesn't, Whitaker says he might be forced out.
At Fullerton's city council meeting Tuesday, Bushala got up during the public comment time to thank Councilwoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and Councilman Bruce Whitaker "for being courageous," saying they both "stood up and did the right thing," in the wake of Thomas' death at the hands of Fullerton police officers.
Then, Bushala directed his comment to Mayor Richard Jones, Mayor Pro Tem Don Bankhead and councilman Pat McKinley, calling them, "You other three up here who have said nothing and sat on your hands."
He told them that within 72 hours he planned to serve them recall papers, adding that he had accrued a hefty budget to make it happen.
A post on Friends For Fullerton's Future blog went up today saying the "Notice of Intent to Circulate Recall Petition" had been drafted and it asked registered voters who live in Fullerton to show up at Bushala's office before 3 p.m. today to sign the petition.
Friday afternoon, Bushala says he has all of the signatures he needs and is ready to deliver the papers to the three men. "I'm going to their houses in a bit," Bushala says.
UPDATED, AUGUST 5, 10:17 A.M.:
Friends For Fullerton's Future blog has posted the names of the officers they think were at Kelly Thomas's beating. Their list includes Jay Cicinelli
, the retired, one-eyed LAPD officer, who eventually joined the Fullerton Police Department. For a list of the other names, check out their blog post.
ORIGINAL POST, AUGUST 4, 3:19 P.M.:
Aside from scores of citizens who spoke during the public comment period at the Fullerton City Council meeting Tuesday, at least one local public official is also calling for Police Chief Mike Sellers
' resignation. This collective dissatisfaction is rooted in how the department has handled things in the wake of Kelly Thomas
' death at the hands of six Fullerton police officers.
Fullerton City Councilwoman Sharon Quirk-Silva has made several TV news appearances asking Sellers to step down.
Several other bits of information have surfaced, as the story of this mentally ill transient, who was beaten to death by police officers, starts to go national.
Last night, Susan Kang Schroeder
, chief of staff at the Orange County District Attorney's Office, went on CNN to talk about the story.
The CNN anchor started the report by saying a Fullerton Police spokesman agreed to be on the show, but backed out at the last minute and, instead, sent over a two-line statement from Police Chief Sellers: "This was tragic for our community. We are in the midst of an investigation."
After a couple of video clips, the CNN coverage cuts to Schroeder, who says the DA's office has assigned more than two dozen people to investigate the case. When asked about a video detailing the incident, which hasn't been released, Schroeder paused. "Your heart is sad watching what happens in the case," she said. "We have to put our emotions aside in the Orange County Attorney's Office and make sure we do a thorough and fair and a complete investigation."
He alleges the following:
- That the officers got to see a video of the incident while they were writing their reports of it.
- That the officer who did the most damage to Thomas is a onetime LAPD officer, who was shot in the eye years back. The informant says LAPD wouldn't let the officer keep working, and he retired, but was eventually hired by the Fullerton Police Department. (Dennis Romero at our sister paper, LA Weekly, ID'd the one-eyed officer as Jay Cicinelli.)
- That after the beating, the aforementioned officer allegedly bragged in the locker room about "beating the crap" out of Thomas.
- That the police reports were rewritten several times, as the higher-ups wanted to "clean up some things they didn't like."
- That the Fullerton Police Department has an ongoing problem with cover-ups and excessive "leeway."
To see a video of witnesses talking about what they saw a few minutes after the beating
, and for other updates, check the Friends For Fullerton's Future
FBI spokeswoman Lourdes Arocho
says the agency opened an investigation last week to determine whether Thomas's civil rights were violated. After they finish the investigation, Arocho says, they'll submit their findings to the Department of Justice, which will then decide if it wants to prosecute.
The Weekly's previous coverage of Thomas' death: