HUNTINGTON BEACH - An outspoken critic of police was pulled over for a ticket on Christmas Eve, but the officer's boss said today the citation was for bad driving and did not reflect any ulterior motive.
Ron Thomas, the father of Kelly Thomas, said he felt police were harassing him when he was issued a ticket the day before Christmas.
Thomas' son, Kelly Thomas, died following a struggle with Fullerton police in July 2011.
Huntington Beach police Capt. Russell Reinhart, however, said the sergeant who pulled Thomas over did not know him and issued the ticket for a road violation.
"He cut off three vehicles," including the sergeant on a motorcycle, Reinhart said.
"The two other vehicles had to stop before crashing into him," Reinhart said.
Based on a recording of the sergeant's contact with Thomas, the officer "clearly had no idea who (Thomas) was," Reinhart said. "It was just an unsafe movement and really had nothing to do with anything else."
Thomas, however, noted that his Chevy Tahoe was emblazoned with signs critical of Fullerton police and featuring photos of his son, Kelly, who died five days after a July 5, 2011, struggle with officers who approached him at the Fullerton Transportation Center.
Two officers involved in the conflict are currently on trial in Santa Ana.
"I have no doubt at all this guy's doing one for the blue team," Thomas said.
Thomas denied he had violated any rules of the road. He said another driver in front of him stopped and apparently didn't signal, forcing him to switch lanes, but not unsafely.
Thomas plans to fight the ticket for failure to yield and having tinted windows.
Reinhart said his department feels compassion for Thomas' woes.
"Everybody feels sorry for him. He's going through a lot with his family," Reinhart said. "We understand that, but this had nothing to do with harassment."
-- City News Service