SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Prosecutors declined to release the names of six Fullerton police officers involved in a violent fight that left a mentally ill homeless man dead, citing concerns for their safety because of the "significant" number of threats made against them, according to a newspaper report Wednesday.
The Orange County Register, which sought the officers' names under California's open-records law, reported that the District Attorney's office listed 19 examples of threats made after Thomas Kelly died in a confrontation that was captured on camera and sparked international outrage.
The threats included a call to dispatchers warning that a bomb will go off at the police building and a letter that stated Thomas was "murdered" and that the officers deserved the death penalty. Prosecutors also considered an entry in a local blog, in which someone called for the release of the officers' contact information and addresses, a threat.
Travis Kiger, who maintains the Friends for Fullerton's Future blog, said he didn't think the entry was a threat.
"They release the names of suspected criminals every single day," he told the Register. "I don't understand in this case how it would be any different."
The D.A.'s office, which is investigating Thomas' death, said it will release the officers' names when it decides whether to press charges.
Thomas got into a confrontation on July 5 with the officers who were responding to reports that someone had been burglarizing cars at a downtown transit station. Thomas, who suffered severe head and neck injuries, was taken off life support five days later.
The incident was captured from a distance by a bystander with a cell phone camera and surveillance video from a bus captured upset witnesses telling the bus driver that officers had beaten and repeatedly used a stun gun on Thomas as he cried out for help.