Fullerton recall efforts in the wake of the Kelly Thomas murder

By Guest Writer Merijoe and George Sand

In the wake of the Kelly Thomas death, citizens of Fullerton demanded answers as to why the harmless, homeless, schizophrenic, man was violently beaten and ultimately killed by Fullerton police. Video footage of the event was available, but not made public immediately. The police department did not address the death immediately, but waited before suspending the officers.

City Council member Pat McKinley claimed it took 30 days for the police department to even address the Kelly Thomas issue because the police department did not appreciate the gravity of the situation – even though the before and after pictures of the victim very clearly depicted the “gravity” of what had transpired. Councilman McKinley, who is also a former Fullerton Police Chief, defended decisions to keep the video under wraps, and insisted the cause of death was undetermined. He further defended the officers by claiming the eye witnesses’ accounts were “exaggerated” and claiming that it was not physically possible for 6 men to beat one victim at the same time (see his heinous interview below, with some very compelling and on-point questions by the interviewer).

Another Council Member, F. Dick Jones absurdly said he did not know why Kelly Thomas died, because he had seen “far worse injuries” that were survivable.

The event sparked outrage, and has since led to a string of discoveries regarding Fullerton PD incompetence and malice. The Veth Mam case came to light as another incident in which a Fullerton officer Hamptom slapped a video camera out of Mam’s handsbecause Mam was filming another beatdown by Fullerton officers. Mam was jailed and charged with assault on a police officer and resisting arrest.

Officer Rincon was found to have arrested women, handcuffed them, and sexually assaulted them between 2005 and 2008 (more here).

Citizens of Fullerton were outraged at the patent failure of police to police themselves, as well as the incompetence, and perhaps willful ignorance of city officials. Thus, an effort to instigate a recall election was born, with Tony Bushala taking the lead. People of Fullerton have attended public meetings and protested at the police station in an effort to oust the incompetent people in government. In particular, the recall movement has focused on Council Members Pat McKinley, F. Dick Jones, and Don Bankhead.

In response, McKinley called the recall activists “uneducated” at an anti-recall fundraiser. Those in power also sent out mailers to Fullerton residents, reminding people that if they had signed the petition, they could recant their signatures. The mailer further went on to lambaste Tony Bushala.

According to activist Merijoe, Council Member Don Bankhead was peeved when he saw volunteers bringing awareness to the recall movement. His wife got into a screaming match with the volunteers, and eventually, they both went inside the grocery store, and had the manager call the Fullerton police to evict them from the premises.

“It is just never-ending buffoonery throughout the years from these 3,” observes Merijoe. “They boast that they served in the military for years and are stellar members of the community…Military background and excellent personal character are wonderful qualities, but they do not qualify any person to sit in public office…”

“Until they are able to respect the U.S. Constitution and represent the people who have voted them in office…they shouldn’t expect anything less than anger from the taxpayers who pay their bloated salaries,” says Merijoe. All petitions are due in by February 16, 2012.

Please visit the Fullerton Recall website for more information, or to contribute.


Georgia Sand

Georgia (George) Sand is an attorney located in sunny California. She enjoys beer, jogging, the beach, music, and chatting with her cats in her spare time.