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Fullerton PD Chief (Former Los Al/SB PD) on Leave After Transient's Death

Amid calls for his resignation over the in-custody death of a homeless schizophrenic man, Fullerton Police Chief Michael Sellers went on medical leave today.

Former Seal Beach Police Chief Michael Sellers took medical leave from his position at the helm of the Fullerton Police Department Wednesday after two City Council members called for him to resign over his handling of an investigation into the in-custody death of a homeless schizophrenic man.

Fullerton Police Chief Michael Sellers served as Seal Beach’s police chief from 1997 to 2005, and before that he was a captain in Los Alamitos.
Fullerton City Manager Joe Felz said he was told today that Sellers' doctor put him on leave for undisclosed reasons.

``We wish Chief Sellers well and are appreciative of his efforts in
behalf of the city,'' Felz said.

Council members Sharon Quirk-Silva and Bruce Whitaker had urged Sellers to resign following the fatal July 5 arrest of Kelly Thomas. Thomas was repeatedly tasered and suffered life threatening injuries in a scuffle with six police officers during the arrest. He was taken off life-support five days later.

According to police, Thomas allegedly resisted police who tried to detain him at the Fullerton Transportation Center at 123 S. Pomona Ave. on suspicion of possessing stolen goods. The officers were responding to a report of a man trying to break into vehicles.
Thomas' father, a retired Orange County sheriff's deputy, has called his son's death murder and called for the six officers involved to be prosecuted and sent to prison for the rest of their lives.

The officers are all on leave, but they have not been punished.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is Investigating the case and the FBI is monitoring that investigation In calling for his resignation, Quirk-Silva said Sellers did a poor job of communicating with the public after the violent arrest.

Whitaker told City News Service on Wednesday he faulted Sellers for not putting the officers involved on leave sooner. He also said he was stonewalled in his efforts to obtain information about the case as well as another one involving the suicide of a Fullerton jail inmate.

The councilman said he asked for a briefing on video cameras around the city, especially at the Metrolink lot where Thomas was arrested.

``So far, I have not received anything on that either,'' he said.

Felz was trying to organize a meeting this week to consider hiring
investigator and former prosecutor Michael Gennaco to do an independent, internal review of Thomas' death. But so far that has not been accomplished, and it appears more likely the council will consider the city manager's request at the council's regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, Whitaker said.

Whitaker said he is considering whether it makes more sense to ask the state Attorney General's Office to do the internal review, because it would appear more impartial to the public and because it would save money, Whitaker said.

Hamilton said the city has ``very important issues we have to deal with in light of the Kelly Thomas incident, and we will work with investigators from the District Attorney's Office and the FBI, who are looking into the incident.''

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK IN THE COMMENT BOX

Is it fair for Fullerton officials to call for Seller's resignation?

Do you think the officers involved should face prosecution?

The City News Service Contributed to this report.

BG Stine August 11, 2011 at 09:27 PM
Here is how this plays out ... Fullerton Police Chief Michael Sellers goes on sick leave for 30 days, i.e., after the autopsy, toxicology and IA report comes back. Can't fire someone on medical leave in CA. If it doesn't calm down by the end of these 30 days, his doctor will say he has to retire on disability, i.e., stress related. Sellers retires with full pension and benefits the rest of his life. His pension will be based on $228,000 salary and benefits PLUS any vacation time will be added in. At 35 years in the CALPERs system, he will get 90% of that number. Just on the base, $228,000, alone he will get $205,000 for life ... plus cost of living increases. Nice gig if you can get it.
Paige Austin August 12, 2011 at 06:05 AM
The LA Times is reporting that Fullerton Mayor F. Richard Jones has said he does not expect Chief Sellers to return to the job.
Paige Austin August 12, 2011 at 06:06 AM
Here is the link to the LA Times Story: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-fullerton-death-20110812,0,6171933.story
Dice August 12, 2011 at 02:46 PM
I have another twist to add..... since we are fair people here in America why does the senseless beating of Stow gather extreme media coverage and Mayoral and law enforcement attention, with all due respect to the Stow family, and this innocent kid who is murdered not by thugs but by the same organization who are hired to protect us from this very same type of violent attacks???? I rally for an impeachement and removal starting from the top with the Mayor, Chief of Police and both should not receive a cent of our tax paying $$ for their pensions or medical leaves, close all loop holes! We should put up a ballot that if a person in high public office or public office in general is found guilty of a major crime or is involved in any way (cover-up) then they will not receive one cent from the State, this inclides law inforcement! As far as the officers involved in this case.... they should be treated as cilvilians/citizens do when a crime is committed. They should be put through the same legal system, charged, tried and if convicted by a jury then prosecuted just like citizens do! They are not above the law!!!!! Removal from their job and receive no pension/retirement $$ if found guilty!! The law's have to change for law enforcement. So they have IA to monitor these kind of issues.... JOKE!
Mike Ruehle August 16, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Apparently, a Fullerton city employee can not be terminated while on medical leave. I guess Police Chief Seller's job is safe as long as he is medically incapable of performing his job.

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