warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

DA Charges Fullerton Police Officers In Homeless Death

Agnus Dei Farrant |
September 21, 2011 | 10:00 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Protesters at an Aug. 14 event show support for Thomas (photo courtesy of Creative Commons).
Protesters at an Aug. 14 event show support for Thomas (photo courtesy of Creative Commons).
Orange County prosecutors charged two Fullerton police officers Wednesday morning in the beating death of mentally ill homeless man, Kelly Thomas.

Officer Manuel Ramos, 37, was charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, reported the Los Angeles Times. If convicted, he will face 15 years to life in prison. Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, 39, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and using excessive force. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

“In Orange County, we generally trust our law enforcement – and with good reason,” district attorney Tony Rackauckas said in a statement. “We must do everything we can to make sure we protect that trust, including prosecuting police officers if they violate the law.”

Six police officers with a combined 72 years on the police force participated in the July 5 beating at a Fullerton bus depot.

Thomas, 37, suffered from schizophrenia.

Rackauckas stressed that Thomas did not provoke the attack and his actions were in self-defense.

The L.A. Times reported that Rackauckas said Ramos began the physical altercation that lasted almost 10 minutes.

Ramos stood over a disoriented Thomas and snapped on latex gloves. He said, “See my fists? They are getting ready to f--- you up.”

Thomas was then tackled, hit with a baton, pinned to the ground, punched repeatedly in the ribs, kneed in the head, Tasered four times and struck in the face with the Taser device eight times.

The beating continued despite a pool of blood that formed around Thomas’ body, Rackauckas said.

Thomas suffered brain injuries, a shattered nose, a smashed cheekbone, broken ribs and internal bleeding, the L.A. Times reported. He was declared brain dead July 10. He died that day after being taken off life support.

Rackauckas said Thomas died of “mechanical compression of the thorax,” meaning he was crushed and unable to breathe.

Four officers were not charged due to a lack of evidence, according to an Orange County district attorney press release. The officers were Officer Joseph Wolfe, Officer Kenton Hampton, Sgt. Kevin Craig and Cpl. James Blatney.

According to a district attorney statement, Ramos’ arraignment will continue Sept. 26. He is in custody on $1 million bail. Cicinelli pleaded not guilty and is out of custody on $25,000 bail. His pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Nov. 4.

“We simply cannot accept that in our community it is within a police officer’s right to place gloves on his hands, show his fists to a detainee, and threaten that he will ‘F’ him up,” Rackauckas said in a statement. “That is not protecting and serving.”



Reach executive producer Agnus-Dei Farrant here.

Best way to find more great content from Neon Tommy?

Or join our email list below to enjoy Neon Tommy News Alerts.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.