Ron Thomas, father of the slain Kelly, thinks that the FPD were silent about the arrest because his civil suit over his son’s death is scheduled to begin next month. “They want it as quiet as possible…Ramos being arrested isn’t going to make him look good,” he tells Gabriel San Román of the OC Weekly in a story this morning.
Ron Thomas may be right, especially if we consider the contrast between the three week delay in reporting the arrest of Manual Ramos with the next day coverage of former state Assemblyman Chris Norby’s arrest for domestic violence on March 11, 2014. Mr. Norby was never charged with any crimes, and later divorced his wife, who was alleged to have battered him, injuring his eye. The arrest came during an election year amid speculation that he might be considering a run for Fullerton City Council. By any objective measure, the negative publicity following the arrest damaged his chances of succeeding in such a campaign.
During his 18 previous years on the Fullerton City Council, 7 years as OC Supervisor, and 3 years in the California State Assembly, Chris Norby was known as a critic of public employee unions, who lined up on the side of his opponent Sharon Quirk-Silva in 2012, helping to defeat him. In the State Assembly he authored a bill aimed at reforming asset seizure laws, which had been a boon to police departments throughout the state. He had also expressed frustration with the limits placed on reporting about problem officers included in the Peace Officers Bill of Rights. The prospect of his return to the Fullerton City Council would not have been a welcome one for the Fullerton Police Department, who have enjoyed a reliable three member majority of supporters in the form of Doug Chaffee, Jan Flory, and Jennifer Fitzgerald since November, 2012.
A year later, when the dust had settled, Chris Norby reflected upon his arrest in an April 28, 2015 letter to the Voice of OC. He noted in the letter that “During Family Court civil hearing, two independent witnesses testified personally of the physical abuse I had suffered. There were none against me.“
One has to wonder, just how did the media find out so quickly about the arrest of Chris Norby, while the arrest of Manuel Ramos on the same charge (they even had the same bail amount of $10,000) went undetected by reporters for three weeks? The OC Register first reported about Chris Norby on March 12, less than 24 hours after his arrest. The LA Times had a story up by March 13. The Fullerton News Tribune, owned and published every Thursday by the OC Register, includes a weekly crime feature called The Blotter, showing selected arrests throughout the city. The July 23 edition lists two separate July 16 assaults for addresses on W. Malvern and W. Commonwealth, but nothing on W. Oak, the site of the Manual Ramos arrest. Not until August 6, did the OC Register finally pick up on the story.
Did someone tip off the press about the Chris Norby arrest last year, while laying low about the arrest of Manuel Ramos last month?