Police training eyed after mentally ill man dies
Friday, August 5, 2011
FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) -- Police should have been familiar with Kelly Thomas and his history of mental illness.
Thomas had a 16-year string of arrests around a Southern California county for everything from assault with a deadly weapon to public urination.
But somehow, things ended differently this time.
Six officers in Fullerton, Calif. who were trying to search Thomas' backpack after reports someone had been breaking into cars at a transit hub got into a violent fight with the 37-year-old, who later died of severe head and neck injuries.
His death has drawn outrage in the college town and raised questions about how well city police are trained to deal with the mentally ill. Some big-city police departments undergo extensive training in such issues, often triggered by similar, highly public incidents that end badly.