Thomas v. Fullerton Police Department (2015)

“Thomas’ name has become synonymous across the country with excessive police force”

The Orange County Register


On July 5th, 2011, Kelly Thomas was savagely beaten by 6 Fullerton police officers. Kelly was homeless at the time, had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and was unarmed.

Five days later, his family made the harrowing decision to switch off his life support.

In an attempt the settle out of court, the city made Kelly’s family an offer of $900,000. Their justification? “Let’s face it Ron,” they said to Kelly’s father. “Kelly was no rocket scientist.”

That was when Garo stepped in, securing five times that initial sum for Kelly’s family.

Total Payout:

Kelly's family never thought they'd need the services of our law firm. But when disaster struck, they were reassured knowing that we were on their side. If the unthinkable happens to you or a loved one, you don't want to delay justice.
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“I Can’t Breathe”

Kelly was relentlessly beaten for 9 minutes and 40 seconds, including being tasered 6 times, all the while repeatedly crying out for his father, apologising profusely, and uttering the phrase that has become all too common in these kinds of incidents — “I can’t breathe.”

Please be warned; the following footage is not easy to watch:

Those involved in the beating did everything they could to try and shift the narrative in a bid to make Kelly appear as though he was far more dangerous than the footage shows he was. The officers in the video can he heard making claims that Kelly was “on something”, despite the fact that a toxicology report proved that Kelly had no illicit substances in his system. One officer described the incident as the “fight of his life”.

“You have 1,500 pounds of trained cop on my one little son, but they have to bring this out like they were just so overpowered by this brute to make themselves look innocent and that they’re the victims”

Ron Thomas

At one point, one officer can be heard saying they “grabbed the end of my taser and I just start smashing his face to hell”. Yet when paramedics showed up, the officers insisted the medical staff attend to their own injuries first, which amounted to little more than a few cuts and scrapes; it was a full minute before one of the paramedics noticed Kelly lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood.

There was so much blood on Kelly’s chest that the EKG had to be applied to his back.

Falsification of Police Reports

“When you have six criminals involved in a crime, you don’t put them all in one room and allow them to compare notes and then watch a video tape to make sure their notes jibe with it.”

— Garo Mardirossian

Not only were the officers involved in the beating permitted to view the footage before writing their reports, but it was revealed by an informant that those reports were subsequently rewritten multiple times before being submitted.

One of those six officers had a track record of falsifying reports, having done so a year prior with another one of Garo’s clients, Veth Mam. In the video below, Garo was interviewed by CNN and describes the extent of the corruption:

The Outcome

“Although the city would like to say it’s not admitting liability, the reality is when you’re paying $4.9 million… The act of having agreed to pay that large amount is a tacit admission”

— Garo Mardirossian

The autopsy revealed that the cause of Kelly’s death was “lack of oxygen to the brain because of pressure on his chest and bleeding in his nose”. Yet the opposing counsel did everything they could to try and shift the blame, first insinuating Kelly “died of a heart attack brought on by an enlarged heart aggravated by years of drug abuse”, before questioning “whether medical treatment, not the actual beating”, could have resulted in Kelly’s death.

In the video below, Garo describes the full extent of the damage that Kelly incurred as a result of the beating:

Ultimately, the case was settled outside of court. Speaking at a press conference at the Mardirossian Akaragian law office, Ron said that:

“Considering this would have gone to appeals afterward if a verdict was reached by a jury, the years it would have prolonged, what would we have gained? We still know they did it.”

— Source: LA Times


The suffering and violence that Kelly suffered sparked a serious conversation about the way in which the police treat those with mental illnesses.

In the video below, Ron spoke to CNN about the reform he wished to see in the wake of the tragedy:

“No matter what I’ve had to go through, it’s nothing compared to what Kelly went through. Nothing.”

Ron Thomas

Our Lawyers Are Dedicated To Combatting The Type Of Injustice Kelly Suffered

Contact Mardirossian Akaragian LLP Today

Our firm offers exceptional talent, abundant resources, tireless dedication, and years of experience to give you the best chance of success in obtaining maximum compensation. Led by our award-winning founding attorney, Garo Mardirossian, we are prepared to provide you with aggressive representation and personalized legal guidance you need.

Talk to a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer about your case or contact our firm to schedule a no-cost consultation.

(323) 653-6311

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Armen Akaragian | Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney



Admitted to practice in 2006, Armen has arbitrated, tried, and settled several cases which have resulted in multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements.


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