FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) — In the nearly two decades since his son descended into madness, Ron
Thomas has worried every day that the schizophrenic 37-year-old would die of exposure or illness on
the streets. He never imagined the end would come in a violent confrontation with police.
The death last month was the end of a trajectory that began when Kelly Thomas was in his early 20s
and started showing the first signs of what would later be diagnosed as schizophrenia: he shuttled
between addresses, preferred to sleep on the floor and stopped showering.
In treatment, Thomas did well and was able to hold down a job — but when he stopped taking his pills, he disappeared onto the streets. He racked up an array of charges, from public urination to assault with a deadly weapon, and alarmed his parents with his bizarre behavior.
"My daughter and I have talked for years that we'd get the call that something had happened to him,
whether it was from organ failure because he's not drinking enough fluids or the elements or maybe
gang activity," said his father, Ron Thomas.
Last month, he was sitting on a bench at the Fullerton Transportation Center, a hub for buses and
commuter trains where homeless people congregate, when six police officers arrived to investigate
reports of a man burglarizing cars nearby. Police said he ran when they tried to search his backpack and
that he resisted arrest.
The incident was captured by a bystander with a cell phone, and bus surveillance tape released Monday
showed agitated witnesses describing how officers beat Thomas and used a stun gun on him repeatedly
as he cried out for his father.
On the cell phone video, a man can be heard screaming over a fast, clicking sound that those on the
tape identify as a stun gun being deployed.
Thomas was taken off life support five days after the July 5 altercation. His father said Wednesday
he was stunned when he learned police officers caused his son's severe head and neck injuries.
Kelly Thomas beaten and killed by six