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Two Calif. Cops Face Felony Charges In Beating Death

September 21, 2011  | 

Orange County prosecutors today filed felony charges against two of the six Fullerton (Calif.) Police officers involved in the fatal beating of a homeless man in July, the district attorney's officer announced.

Fullerton PD's Cpl. Jay Cicinelli and Officer Manuel Ramos were charged in the fatal beating of Kelly Thomas, 37, outside a bus depot. Thomas was a homeless man who suffered from schizophrenia. All six officers were suspended in early August.

Officer Ramos was the first officer to confront Thomas, reportedly telling him, "My fists ... are getting ready to F you up," according to a release from the D.A. He has been charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Bail was set at $1 million.

Officer Cicinelli arrived at the scene at 8:54 p.m., while officers struggled with Thomas. He apparently shocked Thomas four times with a TASER, including three in "drive stun" mode for five seconds each and the fourth with darts deploying. He faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force under the color of authority. He was released on $25,000 bail.

Cicinelli, 39, is a 12-year veteran of the agency and a former LAPD officer. Office Ramos, 37, is a 10-year veteran.

The four other officers involved in the incident have not been charged. Officer Joseph Wolfe struck Thomas with his baton and initially tackled him with Officer Ramos. He kneed and punched Thomas.

When Officer Kenton Hampton arrived, Thomas was on the ground with officers Ramos, Cicinelli and Wolfe. He placed a handcuff around Thomas' left wrist and assisted in applying the hobble, or ankle restraint, to Thomas' ankles and held Thomas' legs down using his hands, according to the district attorney.

Sgt. Kevin Craig arrived after Officer Hampton. He approached and put one knee on Thomas' shoulder/back area to minimize Thomas' movement. Cpl. James Blatney arrived last and assisted Officer Hampton in applying the hobble to Thomas' ankles and then also held the defendant's legs down with his hands.

Related:

Embattled Fullerton Chief Goes on Medical Leave

DA Sees No 'Intentional Killing' by Fullerton Cops

Six Calif. Officers Involved In Fatal Beating Suspended

Tags: Fullerton (Calif.) PD, Murder Prosecutions, Deadly Force, Mentally Ill Subjects, Kelly Thomas Beating


Comments (14)

Displaying 1 - 14 of 14

notmeofficer @ 9/22/2011 5:56 AM

One day in the future we will have the ray gun that will stop all threats and do no harm
But one day isnt now... and we will go hands on with suspects.... and people will be hurt and die
Lets see how this proceeds....
It is always a persons decision to comply.... and they have remedies if they are illegally detained

Aye Aye @ 9/22/2011 7:16 AM

As a father with a child that has a mental disability, this concerns me greatly. Many people with disabilities wont comply or respond to all verbal commands. I understand the need for officer safety, but we need more methods on how to identify and handle people with mental disabilities.

Janet @ 9/22/2011 8:40 AM

It does not take that much force to bring down one man. Try a Taser if the criminal does not have a weapon. Too many people have died or been severely injured by "adrenaline rush" policemen. Use a little common sense.

Rick @ 9/22/2011 9:05 AM

Most disturbing is the comment that officer made about his fists and how he was going to use them. I've met quite a few "old school" cops that have this mentality; kick the hell out of the guy to make them pay, put cuffs on that they sharpened the edges so the suspect feels pain, etc. They truly have forgotten that they are public servants out to protect the public; including the mentally disturbed or those that are mentally handicapped.

Bud @ 9/22/2011 10:29 AM

Janet, Just how much force does it take to bring down one man? You obviously have never been involved in such a "fight". And they were trying to establish control not fight. Imagine if it was a fight! If only officers could resort to fighting! We could end it much sooner!!! How about this? What if all suspects just complied and not resist we wouldn't have to "fight". What a novel idea!

Tom Ret @ 9/22/2011 11:58 AM

Unless it is a repeat offender or advised by dispatch, how would cops know the background of people they encounter on the street.? They could be suffering from a mental illness, high on drugs, don't like cops, having a bad day etc. Janet, the article, if accurate, states the subject was tased 4 times which led to the excessive force charges against Officer Cicinelli. As bad as this case looks for the officers, in court both sides will present their side whereas only one side is being presented here. Anyone who has actually worked the street for any length of time, knows that some people are damn hard to get under control. If you have never been involved in fighting a suspect, you may be surprised how much force is actually needed sometimes. The comment of the officer who allegedly said I going to f--k you up with my fists was heard by whom-one of the village people at the bus stop who was yelling pig on the video? These two officers may be found guilty but lets hear all sides and all evidence before passing judgement.

RICHARD ISAACS @ 9/22/2011 6:12 PM

TO THE GENTLEMAN WITH THE HANDICAPPED CHILD, I APPRECIATE YOUR CONCERN. BUT INSTEAD OF SUGGESTING THAT WE, WHOEVER THAT IS COME UP WITH SOLUTIONS FOR IDENTIFYING MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE HOW ABOUT COMING UP WITH SOME SUGGESTIONS. TALK TO DR'S. SOCIAL WORKERS, MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS AND THEN WRITE THIS SITE WITH CONCRETE ADVICE ON HOW TO DO THIS. REMEMBER THAT THE MENTALLY ILL CITIZENS HAVE THE SAME RIGHTS WE ALL HAVE. ANY SUGGESTION TO IDENTIFY A MENTALLY ILL PERSON WITH A SPECIAL EMBLEM, TATTOO, ID BRACELET, ETC WOULD SEND THE ACLU THROUGH THE CEILING AND GLORIA ALLRED WOULD BE LEADING THE MARCH. I DON'T HAVE A RETARDED CHILD BUT I UNDERSTAND YOUR CONCERNS. GET TO WORK TOMORROW ORGANIZING PROFESSIONALS TO PUT THEIR HEADS TOGETHER AND COME UP WITH WORKABLE SOLUTIONS. THE LIFE YOU SAVE COULD BE YOUR CHILD. THE POLICE CAN NOT DO IT ALONE FOLKS.

michael @ 9/22/2011 10:06 PM

If you have ever been in a fight with someone who is under the influence or mentally ill etc.....You unfortunately still have to succeed. However, does it really change the circumstances or the actions we take as LEO's. We have all received the same training and have similar Dept. Orders on escalation of force. It's always a bad situation when someone is resisting and the escalation of force doesn't appear to be working.
Lets put a spin on this situation, what if the suspect was under the influence of PCP and kicked the crap out of the first officer and took his firearm. The citizens could have been shot and killed as well as the officer. When you are in an all out fight, you are fighting for your life. I would hate to think that these officers decide to just beat the crap out of this guy and kill him. It just doesn't make sense to me and I find it hard to believe what was reported that these officers said, which was reported by a citizen at the scene.
It is a very unfortunate situation and sad that this guy died under these circumstances and had a metal illness.
I think people need to know that as LEO's we must be successful in our mission to protect and serve. Most people can't do this job because it has a very ugly side to it at times. I hope something comes to light to help these officers out of the terrible situation.

disappointed @ 9/23/2011 10:30 AM

@ Tom Ret

The department-issued digital recorder strapped to officer Ramos' equipment belt was what caught the comment, "See my fists? They are getting ready to f--k you up."

Source: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0923-kelly-thomas-audio-20110922,0,4325329.story

Tom Ret @ 9/23/2011 11:15 AM

disappointed-That sounds like an unbiased source all right. It will be pretty hard for Officer Ramos to object to something that he recorded himself.

disappointed @ 9/24/2011 2:26 PM

@ Tom Ret -- Agreed. It's certainly unfortunate that the events played out the way they did. You're correct in that we don't know the entire story, but the evidence found in the audio recording will be difficult to dispute. Lots of people get caught up in the emotions of these events and don't always have the clarity of thought to understand the complexities involved and end up defending one side while bashing the other. I just hope that the family of Kelly Thomas as well as the LEOs involved find peace and that justice is served and that we all are able to learn from this event.

Tom Ret @ 9/24/2011 4:24 PM

disappointed-Well said. I did read the LA times article you referenced.
The vitriol towards the officers in the comments section was palpable.
The officers may be found guilty but they deserve their time in court to give their version of events. There were no winners here.

Hugh @ 9/25/2011 9:56 PM

I hope that they get a good attoney as it sounds like they are being scapegoated to satisfy the public that baically hates cops!

Capt David @ 9/27/2011 7:46 AM

wow..read www.whenlawmenlie.com.......

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