Kelly Thomas: Police Not Guilty in Brutal Beating, Jury Decides

Image: Kelly Thomas: Police Not Guilty in Brutal Beating, Jury Decides Officers Jay Cicinelli, left, and Manuel Ramos.

Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 12:50 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Two southern California police officers are free after a jury cleared them in the 2011 beating death of the 37-year-old homeless man Kelly Thomas in Fullerton.

Former Fullerton Police officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli were found not guilty in the July 5, 2011 incident in which they beat Kelly Thomas at the Fullerton Transportation Center, according to KTLA-TV. A 30-minute black-and-white surveillance video and audio from officers' recording devices were at the crux of the case.

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The tape showed how the initial routine patrol stop escalated into a violent confrontation.

Thomas died five days after the confrontation when he was removed from life support. Thomas never regained consciousness after his face was battered by the police officers.

Ron Thomas, Kelly Thomas' father, responded angrily after the verdict.

"What was he doing but begging for his life that he deserved to get beat in the face with a deadly weapon?" the elder Thomas told KTLA-TV. "They never said, 'Kelly, have you had enough?' He would have certainly said 'yes' because he was begging for his life."

John Barnett, Ramos' attorney, said that the officers had no intention of killing Thomas.

"These peace officers were doing their job. They had no malice in their heart," Barnett said, according to CNN. He added that the video was "not the entire case." 

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said in closing arguments, though, that he believed Ramos escalated the incident by threatening Thomas after he was uncooperative.

CNN reported that Ramos can be seen on the surveillance video putting on gloves and shaking his fist in Thomas' face.

"See my fists? They're getting ready to (expletive) you up," Ramos could be heard saying to Thomas in the recording. Ramos made a show of putting on rubber gloves.

Cicinelli arrived at the scene, joining Ramos and another officer in beating Thomas, swinging their batons at him, according to KTLA-TV.

The third officer, Joseph Wolfe, was slated to face a separate jury but Rackauckas said that the charges against him will be dropped because of Monday's not guilty verdict.

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