On Sept 5 Thomas Kelly, a 37-year-old schizophrenic homeless man, was so badly beaten and stun-gunned by Fullerton California police officers that he was left unrecognizable. He died five days later from blunt force trauma to the head. The attack by six police officers was captured on video by two bystanders using cell phones. Witnesses have recounted that police continued their assault on Kelly as he lay in a pool of blood. All six police officers involved are now on administrative leave, and Officer Manuel Ramos, 37, and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, 39, are now behind bars facing charges.
Appearing in Orange County Superior Court this week, the Los Angeles Times
reported that Ramos was charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, and Cicinelli was charged with involuntary manslaughter and using excessive force. Ramos’s attorney is John D. Barrett who represented a police officer in the Rodney King case. He said
"Police officers who risk their lives daily … now have to be concerned with being charged in the courtroom for simply performing their duties.”
Ramos and Ciniceli were called out to investigate a routine matter of a person attempting to break into parked cars. There is no evidence that in confronting Kelly Thomas, who was unarmed and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they were risking their lives. Nevertheless they used a stun gun on Thomas’ body four times, his face eight times, before bashing his skull.
The attack, which lasted 10 minutes, continued when Thomas was clearly incapacitated. Speaking at a news conference District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said
“When Kelly didn’t scream in response to these blows it should have indicated to Cicinelli that Kelly was down and seriously hurt,"
the Daily News
Hospital records revealed that Thomas suffered brain injuries, a shattered nose, a smashed cheekbone, broken ribs and internal bleeding. According to the Daily Beast
, the FBI have also opened an investigation into the case to determine if police officers violated Thomas’ civil rights.