Two Fullerton Police Charged With Homeless Man's Murder

Today, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas held a press conference to announce that two police officers have been charged in the shocking death of  Kelly Thomas, a thirty-seven-year-old homeless schizophrenic. According to the DA, Fullerton police Cpl. Jay Cicinelli was charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, while Officer Manuel Ramos was charged with  involuntary manslaughter and excessive force. Ramos faces up to fifteen years in prison, while Cicinelli may only do four.  

The 11-week investigation that followed the highly publicized death also confirmed the heartbreaking details of the attack.  

According to ABC,

Rackauckas said a review of the evidence showed Thomas was acting "in self-defense, in pain and in a state of panic."

"His numerous pleas of 'I'm sorry,' 'I can't breathe,' 'Help Dad' (were) all to no avail. Screams, loud screams, didn't help," the prosecutor said.

Witnesses contend that Thomas, at a Fullerton bus stop, fled after police attempted to search his bag.  Officers then badly beat the mentally ill man, kicking him in the head and tazering him multiple times. On July 5, after five days on life support, Thomas succumbed to  brain trauma and died in the hospital.

"The biggest shame about this case is that it shouldn't have happened," Rackauckas said at the press conference.

Six other police officers are on administrative leave and under investigation by the DA to determine whether they too used excessive force in the deadly arrest. 

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at September 21, 2011, 9:48am

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