A former employee of the Slidebar Rock and Roll Kitchen, the nightclub where Fullerton Police apparently beat Kelly Thomas, has revealed some curious new information about the Thomas case. In the course of a separate lawsuit, the man, who was a bouncer at the Slidebar at the time of the beating, the deck was stacked against Thomas from the very beginning.
It was the nightclub’s manager who initially called 911 to complain about Thomas, according to the bouncer. On that call, the former bouncer says, the manager told the 911 operator that Thomas was breaking into cars, but in fact he was only picking up stray cigarette butts in the parking lot.
To recap the tragic incident: Kelly Thomas, a homeless man with schizophrenia, was confronted by Fullerton Police on July 5 of last year. He was severely beaten by officers for no clear law enforcement purpose and despite his pleas for help. He died of brain injuries and a crushed throat five days after that beating.
Two officers have been charged with manslaughter as a result: One is charged with s second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter; the other with involuntary manslaughter and assault or battery by a public officer. Four other officers appear on security video of the beating, but none of the four has been charged.
In response to the apparently bogus claims in the manager’s 911 call, police responded to a situation involving what they may have thought was a relatively brazen criminal. Instead, they encountered Thomas.
Ron Thomas, Kelly Thomas’s father, does not believe the former bouncer’s claims change anything about the case, because in his belief, the officers already knew his son and came looking for him by name.
“None of it has anything to do with the way the police officers handled Kelly and what was going on there,” he told reporters. “The officers were looking for Kelly by name and description.”
The former bouncer is currently suing the owners of the Slidebar, claiming that he was fired in retaliation for bringing up the 911 call and for telling the Orange County district attorney about the manager’s false claims. The next step in the murder, manslaughter and police brutality charges against the two charged officers is expected on June 26.
Source: KPCC Southern California Public Radio, “Bouncer claims false call led police to Kelly Thomas,” Ed Joyce, June 13, 2012