Dear Ron Thomas: You’re Living My Greatest Fear

Dear Mr. Thomas:

Earlier this week, I read the news story about the murder of your son, Kelly, at the hands of the Fullerton Police.  After reading the story, and viewing the video of the witnesses account of the incident, I was physically sick.

If I close my eyes I can see your son, Kelly, sitting on a bench at the Transportation Center, minding his own business, possibly acting a little strange, talking to himself, eyes darting in several directions, rocking in his seat.  Who knows why the officers approached him – I’ve read that he may have resembled a suspect in a robbery, or maybe it’s just that he appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  I can guess about the panic Kelly felt when he was approached by a stranger in a uniform, gun on his hip, and I can imagine the voices in his head telling him he was in danger and should run, as he did.  
My ears ring as I picture the police running after Kelly, his mind betraying him, telling him to run faster and fight those that were trying to hurt him, however delusional that thought might have been at the time.  I cry, imagining how frightened Kelly must have been when the warnings those voices gave him turned out to be the truth, and how, in an effort to grasp on to reality, he called out for you.  
I know the desperation and guilt and anger and sorrow you must have, knowing that you tried to get Kelly the help he needed time and time again when he went off his medication, and how the law works against you, in a vain effort to protect the rights of the mentally ill, knowing full well in the end, the laws designed to protect them relegate them to lives of full-blown psychosis, wandering the streets, babbling incoherently, unable to get out of the mental prison they’ve created for themselves even if they wanted to in a moment of lucidity.  
What happened to Kelly is my greatest fear for my child.  As I stand on the precipice of his turning 18, convincing myself one day that I must retain complete legal guardianship of him for his own good, and the next, wondering if I am being too over-protective and should let him be.  Today, my heart aches with sorrow for you and fear for myself and I want to clench my child to my breast, as it is better to suffocate him myself than turn him loose on a world that allows those that are supposed to protect us to beat the most vulnerable of us to death in public.  I will never be able to get the sound of the witness on the bus, saying, “they killed him,” out of my mind.  I wish you justice for Kelly, and peace for yourself.

Jan 14 Update: The officers charged in Kelly’s murder were acquitted last night.

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