Lawsuit: Fullerton Bar Manager Enticed Police with a Lie Before Officers Beat Kelly Thomas to Death

Kelly Thomas police brutality 88.jpg
Savage police brutality: The last minutes of Thomas' life
A fired security guard at the Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen in Fullerton has filed a lawsuit accusing Lit guitarist Jeremy Popoff, an owner of the establishment, with enticing police to harass Kelly Thomas on the day officers savagely beat the homeless, schizophrenic man to death in July 2011, and then ordered staff to obstruct justice by lying about their involvement to homicide investigators.

In the 25-page lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court, Michael Reeves claims that he was first intimidated by Popoff to participate in the cover up and later fired after he cooperated in District Attorney Tony Rackauckas' probe that resulted in the arrests of two cops.

Reeves claims in the court filing that he had been expected to echo Popoff's "false mantra" that "Slidebar had nothing to do" with Thomas' gruesome demise because "as a former rock star" the Slidebar owner "was obsessed with Slidebar's image."


Prior to Thomas' death, that obsession prompted Popoff to ban all homeless persons from entering Slidebar, according to the lawsuit.

"Popoff's 'no homeless people' policy kept Thomas out of Slidebar but it did not keep Thomas out of sight, as Popoff wanted," Reeves said in the court filing. "So, in June 2011, Popoff called a meeting at Slidebar with all his managers and instructed them to call police whenever they saw Thomas around Slidebar and to do anything necessary to get Thomas away."

Reeves claims the staff initially called police to complain that Thomas, 37, was loitering. Each time, arriving officers merely told him to move. "This response did not satisfy Popoff because the police took too long to respond and Thomas would always return to the area and spoil the image Popoff had for Slidebar and himself," according to the lawsuit.
 
Next, Reeves claims, "Popoff told Slidebar managers to do whatever it takes to keep Thomas away."
 

On the evening of July 5, Reeves was on duty and saw Thomas in a nearby parking lot picking up cigarette butts.



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