FULLERTON (CBS) — Pat McKinley, who served as Fullerton police chief for 16 years and currently serves on the city council, is speaking out about the death of Kelly Thomas and allegations that excessive force was used by police.
McKinley urged the public to wait for the completion of the investigation before passing judgement.
The District Attorney’s Office and the FBI are investigating the allegations that the officers severely beat the 37-year-old homeless man on July 5, 2011.
“I do know the officers of the Fullerton Police Department. They’re fine, caring people. They work very hard to keep this community safe,” McKinley said.
But the councilman said that if the officers are found guilty of criminal actions that they should face the same consequences that anyone else would.
“If there are bad officers the system will deal with them,” McKinley said. “And, as any place, I’ve arrested police officers… They come from the human race and every once in a while one will get in or go sideways on us. And it’s our job to find them and deal with them.”
One of the officers under investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office is Jay Cicinelli, a former member of the Los Angeles Police Department.
The officer was shot six times during a traffic stop and lost his left eye. He was not able to return to work in Los Angeles and was offered a job by McKinley on the Fullerton force more than a decade ago.
Cicinelli, along with five other officers, have been placed on paid administrative leave until the investigation is completed.
“I don’t know if Jay’s involved in this thing — I hope he’s not,” said McKinley, adding, “But, if he is, and if he did something wrong…he’s no different than anyone else.”
The District Attorney’s office said that the investigation will take weeks, maybe months, before it reaches a conclusion. They currently have heard from 80 witnesses and hope to speak to more than one hundred.
Friends for Fullerton’s Future obtained this video footage from an OCTA bus that pulled into the Fullerton Transportation Center moments after Thomas was beaten. Several witnesses can be seen and heard describing the attack.
Woman: We watched the whole thing.
Bus Driver: What’s going on?
Woman: The cops are kicking this poor guy over there. All these cops
Bus Driver: What happened?
Woman: I have no idea. I didn’t know what the guy did. They were pulling his hair,
kicking the s*** out of him.
Bus Driver: Really?
Woman: Yeah. And he’s all full of blood.
“Am I happy with that? No. Because if you or I were suspected of possibly beating someone to death where would we be today? We’d be behind bars,” Ron Thomas said.
“They’re getting a full paycheck, they’re at work. We wouldn’t be afforded that luxury,” Thomas said.
Thomas says a civil attorney hired by the city has offered him $1 million – presumably, he said, to keep quiet.
The victim’s father reportedly addressed the Fullerton city council Tuesday night to express his outrage.