I Am Kelly Thomas

Last week Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli were declared not guilty of killing Kelly Thomas.  Not just killing him, beating him to death.  What is significant is that Ramos and Cicinelli are police officers.  What is much less significant is that Kelly Thomas had schizophrenia.

Kelly Thomas did not threaten or run from the police.  Instead he was simply confused by their questions and commands.  He did not curse at the police or verbally assault them.  Instead he cried out for his father and pleaded for help.

When the jury told Cicinelli and Ramos that they were not guilty for the death of Kelly Thomas, they told police officers across the country that it is okay to kill the mentally ill.  It is okay to use excessive force.  It is okay to murder me and every other schizophrenic.


The police have responded to calls from my loved ones saying that I am suicidal or psychotic.  I’ve been put in handcuffs and detained during psychosis.  So far, I’ve been in touch with reality enough that I could follow officers’ directions.  But what happens when I can’t?

What will happen if I am psychotic while driving and don’t realize that I am speeding?  Will the police officer that pulls me over assume that I am resisting when I don’t respond to his questions because I am mute…as I sometimes become when in psychosis?  Will he assume that I am under the influence of drugs when I talk to Frank?  Will he assume that I am  trying to hide something when I don’t look him in the eye?

I am Kelly Thomas because it could have been me that was killed and it could be me in the future.  Every person with mental illness is now Kelly Thomas.

Category: Schizophrenia
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4 Responses
  1. Tuttle says:

    This fear is part of why I wear a medic alert bracelet…Because I’ve seen someone without a mental illness or neurological disorder tackled by the police and restrained (or at least when he was restrained). I’ve had security people for buildings be upset at me because I was in places I wasn’t supposed to when I didn’t understand, and couldn’t speak or even walk out of the place. I’m afraid of people mistreating me when they are in power and I don’t have the ability to do what they expect and if them knowing my disability helps sometimes then that would be worth it.

    It’s not the only reason, but it certainly is part.

  2. Maureen says:

    Hi Kelly,
    After reading Randyes blog, I came across yours. I will continue to read your blog as it gives me more insight and hope. My son (ironically) Ben is diagnosed with Schizophrenia at the age of 16, he is now 25. He takes a monthly injection of Halledol and has up until 6 mos ago been addicted to drugs (mainly crack cocaine) which has been a real nightmare up until he came home 6 mos. ago from another re-hab and has been clean, however, has switched his addiction to gambling. Never a dull moment may I say! I love him dearly, as do his older sister and brother. I am divorced and he lives with me. He works for his Dads dealership and is doing ok. He maintains that he takes medication only because we make him and there is indeed nothing wrong with him and refused any outside therapy. He has a fantastic Dr., which Randye had suggested who he does go to see for his shot and doesn’t open up to him about very little. I will continue to read your blog and you should be so very proud of yourself for all you do each and every day overcoming something that without blogs like this and books like Randye has written, someone like me would otherwise be lost.
    Thank you!

  3. Jen says:

    So and so saddening!

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