FULLERTON – An independent consultant hired by the city to probe into the death of Kelly Thomas has delivered his findings to the acting police chief on the internal-affairs phase of his investigation.
The second of three reports conducted by Michael Gennaco, chief attorney for the Los Angeles Office of Independent Review, focuses on the actions of the officers involved in the fatal confrontation with the unarmed mentally ill homeless man on July 5.
But because the report deals with personnel issues, only Capt. Dan Hughes, the acting police chief, has been privy to its findings. Thomas died from his injuries five days after the confrontation.
Hughes would not comment on specifics of the report, including what actions might be taken by the department against the officers and even when he received the report. It is unclear whether the report will ever become public.
“I don’t know that I will be able to (comment),” Hughes said.
Said City Attorney Richard Jones in a statement: “In accordance with applicable personnel procedures, Acting Chief Hughes will be preparing any appropriate notices to affected members of the department.”
Meanwhile, the criminal case against two officers charged in Thomas’ death moved forward with the preliminary hearing scheduled for Monday at Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana.
The District Attorney’s Office has charged Officer Manuel Ramos with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli with involuntary manslaughter and excessive force. Both officers, on unpaid leave, have pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors say Thomas, 37, was beaten and suffocated when confronted by officers in the Fullerton Transportation Center. Thomas had been suspected of burglarizing cars when approached by the officers.
In his initial report to the City Council in February, Gennaco offered suggestions on how to handle information releases with future major incidents. He pointed out that at one point Fullerton police said some of their officers may have fractured some bones during the incident. That turned out to be untrue.
“Do your best to make sure that information is accurate,” Gennaco said in February.
A third report – an examination of the department’s overall policies and procedures – is still pending and will likely be presented at an upcoming council meeting similar to the first report, according to city officials.
“He has a very strong reputation of being thorough and direct and providing straight forward recommendations,” Hughes said of Gennaco. “And I expect him to do the same in this case.”