They couldn’t believe that two former Fullerton cops were being acquitted for the brutal beating death of a homeless man, Kelly Thomas.
Manuel Ramos was acquitted of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the 2011 death of Thomas. Former Cpl. Jay Cicinelli was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and excessive force.
Fox News reports, “Cicinelli, 41, wiped tears from his eyes and Ramos, 39, put his head down and rubbed his temples before turning to his supporters and winking. Cicinelli’s attorney pounded the defense table twice before embracing his client in a bear hug.”
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Thomas’ father sat stone-faced while his mother wept. The parents of Thomas reacted with, “Just horrified,” Cathy Thomas said. “He got away with murdering my son.” Ron Thomas said the verdict gave police “carte blanche” to brutalize people.
The father added, “All of us need to be very afraid now, police officers everywhere can beat us, kill us, whatever they want, but it has been proven right here today they’ll get away with it. Inside, we’re all just torn up … It hurts, it hurts really, really bad,”
John Barnett, said jurors did their duty. “These peace officers were doing their jobs,” he said. “They were operating as they were trained, and they had no malice in their hearts.”
The officer’s lawyer used the argument that Thomas didn’t heed the officer’s orders and was fighting with them. The father said “his son suffered from schizophrenia and didn’t understand the officers.” During Thomas’ arrest backup was called for several times and eventually six cops were on the scene.
Fox News also reports during the trial, “the defense told jurors that Thomas was not a peaceful, helpless man. They said he had a history of drug use and was homeless because he had attacked members of his own family.
Cathy Thomas testified that he choked her for several minutes during an argument, and Thomas’s grandfather said Thomas attacked him with a fireplace poker in 1995.” These instances of Thomas’ violent behavior helped support the defense’s side of the story.
Ramos encountered Thomas on July 5, 2011, when the police were called about “a disheveled man jiggling the handles of car doors in a busy transit center parking lot.” A 33-minute surveillance video, which was the key piece of evidence in the trial, recorded the events as they unfolded.
During the stop, Ramos grew frustrated with Thomas because he wasn’t obeying orders. At the 14:32 mark of the video, Ramos is heard telling Thomas to put his feet out in front of him.
Ramos told Thomas “feet out in front of you,” many times. Several seconds go by where Thomas was seen fidgeting and not listening to the officer, when told again, “feet out in front of you, hands on your knees.” Thomas replied, “which one is it?” Ramos says both.
At the 15:22 mark in the video Ramos is seen looming over Thomas and said, “see my fists?” Thomas replies, “yeah what about em [sic]?” That’s when Ramos said, “they’re getting ready to f*ck you up.”
Thomas challenges the officer with, “start punching dude.” Ramos says, “if you don’t start f*cking listening to me.” At the 15:36 mark, Ramos says again, “put your f*cking hands on your knees.” Thomas tells the officer, he’s sick of playing games.
A few seconds later it appears Ramos slaps Thomas on the back, but it’s hard to tell, because of the video’s quality. After that Thomas stands up, it appears he is walking away. The cops then demand him to get on the ground.
Then the scuffle begins, as the cops say, “put your hands behind your back.” Thomas replies “I can’t; I can’t breath dude,” which he says several times as the cops are on top of him.
When Cicinelli arrives on scene, he tasers Thomas several times and hits him with the butt of his stun gun in the head and face, breaking bones. During the scuffle, Cicinelli claims Thomas supposedly tried reaching for his stun gun.
At the 19:41 mark of the video, an officer is heard saying, “he’s on something.” (However, toxicology reports show Thomas had no drugs in his system). A few seconds later Thomas can be heard crying out for his dad several times, and says, “help me, please dad.”
It’s hard to watch the video without feeling sorry for Thomas. Some are calling it “the most disturbing police brutality video ever.” Did it really take six officers to subdue one man? Watch the video and decide for yourself, but be forewarned it’s hard to watch. You can view the video by clicking here.
Thomas was hospitalized after the beating reportedly he died of an undiagnosed heart condition five days after the beating having never regained consciousness.
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