Fullerton Police Officer Accuses Acting Chief of Cover Up in Kelly Thomas Killing

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Fullerton Police officer Ben Lira appeared on KFI this afternoon and accused Acting Chief Dan Hughes of a cover up in the immediate aftermath of the Kelly Thomas killing. 

Lira, a 17-year veteran of the city's embattled force, has been on paid leave since circulating an email critical of Capt. Hughes.

"I don't anticipate being there much longer," he told show host Bill Carroll.

Though he wasn't at the scene the night the homeless Thomas was savagely beaten by four officers near the Slidebar Rock and Roll Kitchen, Lira said Hughes acted improperly when he told the officers they had done nothing wrong and ordered them to return to the station, view the video of the beating and write their reports. As the ranking officer in charge of patrol, Hughes should have notified the Orange County District Attorney's office immediately, Lira said. 

Lira also added that one of the officers involved, Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, who was preparing to take the Sergeant's exam, requested an attorney. But Hughes told him he didn't need one.

Public outrage over the July 2011 beating reached fevered levels after Fullerton blogger Tony Bushala published an image of an unconcious Thomas, his head swollen and bloody, in a hospital bed.

Many continue to feel the officers illegally beat and murdered Thomas, then attempted to cover it up. But Lira, who helped bail officer Manuel Ramos, charged with second degree murder for his role in the beating, out of jail, said any cover up was orchestrated by Hughes.

"The officers and administrators are two different people," Lira said. The officers didn't try to cover up anything."

"So the brass tried to cover it up?" Carroll asked.

"Well, yeah," Lira replied.

Lear also described Hughes as an ambitious climber whose career goals have trumped public safety.

"There's a lot of good people who work there,"  Lira said. "It's unfortunate that the management there has made the poor decisions they have."

A call to police spokesman Sgt. Jeff Stuart wasn't immediately returned. 

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I think your out of touch with reality, you must be in some sort of sick denial.


Did anyone watch the same video I did? Now there are three officers being tried for murder and many people believe all officers should be tried for murder? One of the officers definitely crossed the line and should be tried. Period. But that is it. For real people, WAKE UP. Has nobody here watched police videos before?

Kelly Thompson was definitely without question resisting arrest. He was not cooperating. Period. End of Story. If you actually watch the 20 minute video of the "beating" as I did multiple times it can be seen no other way. Not saying a couple of officers didn't use excessive force but 3 or all 6? Kelly Thompson had multiple officers on him and was moving all of them. It was all they could do to hold him down let alone get him on his stomach to hand cuff him. Which he refused and would not do multiple times throughout the incident. As I had stated, it was all the officers could do to hold him down which sparked a comment out of one of the officers "This guy is definitely on something". I have watched situations just like this one where a suspect got just enough wiggle room to reach an officers firearm and fire it. Until the guy relaxes this is what they are trained to do for both the suspects and officers safety.

Now about him "screaming and crying for help" Wow is all I have to say. I have never watched a police arrest or video of an arrest where a suspect wasn't screaming you are hurting me or a bunch of random nonsense. Period. Kelly Thompson acted just about as normal as a million other suspects I have watched arrested. People are also saying that kneeing Kelly was wrong? It is common practice... It isn't like they are kneeing them to do harm. They are trained to restrain and hold a suspect with their knee.

In case you are wondering... This is what excessive force looks like. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXR-04O99sU. Watch the video of the "beating" and only one officer really comes even close to this. And I don't have an issue with him being tried for murder. And just because as an officer is there helping fellow officers hold a suspect down and that suspect dies doesn't mean they are guilty of murder. Did they all pass around the taser to bash his face in? No... Responses on here make me scared for the world... Maybe more of you should put your energy towards what is occurring outside of the U.S. or a million other crimes that are far worse than this one that occur every day within the U.S. So many of you act all shocked and appalled when everyday hundreds of people are killed in a far worse manner than this. That doesn't make it okay for the officer to beat his face in and that is still awful but for real people.

With this said, the officer who clearly states "I didn't know what else to do so I beat his face in" should be tried. There were 4-6 officers there at the time and that was not acceptable. I am not real sure on the other officer because when he supposedly used excessive force the camera was readjusting. I will also mention that it appeared the officers had no intention of killing or causing serious harm to Kelly as well. When Kelly began to run at the beginning of the video as they told him to stop they aimed for his legs not his head. Which is all Ramos was actually observed doing to the suspect. And I am sorry... if an officer asks you to stop and tells you what will happen if you resist... they have every right to hit you in the legs with their sticks if you try to run... Arguing otherwise is ridiculous. Unless you believe we should have a bunch of useless police officers who can be involved in no physical confrontations with any suspects because someone might get hurt. In which case you do not live in the real world and the world would be a much scarier place.

I don't expect anyone here to agree with me... I think I have a pretty good idea what kind of people you are just by reading your comments but it must be said for my sake. It just bothers me that people believe that being there when someone dies automatically makes you a murderer... This mentality has no logic associated with it. One officer is guilty and had no right to "bash his face in" but the others were holding him down until he relaxed to a point where they could detain him. And yet he was still moving the pile of officers trying to hold him down. 


Thank you for speaking up, Mr. Lira.


About 60 weeks now since my very public request for assistance ... currently waiting for a cop with courage and conscience in OC.


Ya. This is what we've been saying all along at the protests and the City Council Meetings. Noone wants to take action against this corruption at FPD? Are you all afraid? This is not over, and someone else is going to get killed unless SOMETHING is done.  For info on this case fb, youtube, twitter, or ustream inLeague Press. Justice for Kelly Thomas, for that was not just an attack on him, but on ALL human rights. Dan Hughes, and anyone else who thinks this level of corruption is ok better start packing their things.


Why does this say he was beaten by 4 officers? Everyone knows that it was SIX officers,.  Did you not see the tape, or are you trying to minimilize their involvement? , I suggest that you make a correction. Three of these brutal killers, Kenton Hampton, Kevin Craig, and James Blatney have not been charged and have been returned to duty by none other then Dan Hughes. Pathetic. Thank you Lira for breaking the blue code.


you must be watching something different, the cops murdered that guy, your premise is that he was resisting arresrt, how was he doing that, in the video he never got off the grownd.

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