Kelly Thomas

Kelly Thomas Had 92 Police Encounters Since 1990

Most over minor issues, but was once jailed for assault with a deadly weapon, records show


Mentally ill and homeless, Kelly Thomas had dozens of run-ins with police in the years before he died after an altercation with six Fullerton officers, according to an internal document from the District Attorney's Office.

The document shows that Thomas was frequently stopped and questioned by officers throughout north Orange County, occasionally arrested for low-level crimes such as trespassing, and was once jailed for assault with a deadly weapon. It details 92 police reports that involved Thomas between 1990 and his death last summer.

Attorneys defending three Fullerton officers charged in connection with his death have portrayed Thomas as a trouble-maker who refused police orders. Prosecutors have described Thomas as an unassuming victim – "a sad homeless person that is no danger physically to anyone," in the words of one prosecution expert.

The criminal history compiled by the District Attorney's Office shows that the majority of Thomas' encounters with police resulted in nothing more than a warning or citation. But it also includes 27 arrests, most often for old warrants, trespassing or violating court orders to stay away from a grocery store that Thomas frequented.