Almost a year ago, 2 California police officers beat a 37-year-old homeless man, Kelly Thomas to death. Now video footage of the brutal attack has been revealed in court.
Digital Journal reported in September 2011 on the case against the 2 Fullerton police officers, Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli.
On July 5 last year Kelly Thomas, 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 5 days later from blunt force trauma to the head.
On Monday, footage of the brutal beating and stun-gunning of Thomas was shown in a Santa Ana courtroom. This marked the first day of a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for the 2 Fullerton police officers, Ramos and Cicinelli, to be ordered to stand trial for the beating of Thomas.
Last year Ramos was charged with second-degree murder and Cicinelli with involuntary manslaughter. Both police officers have pleaded not guilty.
The video and the sound of a stun-gun, baton and fists striking Thomas were so graphic that several spectators had to leave the courtroom and the judge paused the video at one point to allow people to recover their composure. He cautioned that those who couldn't stomach the video should leave.
While the quality of the footage is not good, Ramos can clearly be seen shaking his fist in front of Thomas and insisting that he was about to "f*ck him up".
The police officers were on the scene to investigate car break-ins when they found Thomas and began questioning him. However, when Thomas attempts to walk away from Ramos after being questioned, up to 5 police officers assault him with batons, tasers and fists.
Cicinelli, describing his own actions, is recorded on tape explaining, "We ran out of options so I got the end of my Taser and I probably…I just started smashing his face to hell.”
Further on in the video, Thomas is clearly heard pleading for his life, "OK man, I can't breathe," "I'm sorry, dude, I'm sorry!" and "Dad, they're killing me, dad … daddy!"
When the unconscious and bloodied body of Thomas was finally delivered to the local hospital, the doctors determined that he had suffered multiple broken bones in his face, several cracked ribs and a crushed thorax. Doctors also found that Thomas had choked on his own blood during the attack. He was on life support for 5 days before passing away.
After this happened Ron Thomas, father of the deceased told CNN that he would not settle “for anything here except for complete justice for my son.”
However, despite the brutal evidence which has Americans all over the country accusing the Fullerton police officers of excessive force, attorneys for the defendants maintain that their clients were in the right.
Attorney John Arnett, acting for Officer Ramos, asked a University of California, Irvine surgical trauma chief, Dr. Michael Lekawa to take the stand. He wanted the doctor to explain how the physicians handled Thomas' injuries.
He asked Lekawa, "The cause of death might be the treatment he got [at] the hospital?"
The Los Angeles Times reports that Dr. Lekawa had originally been concerned over a medical error on the hospital’s part, but once he saw the footage, he changed his mind.
Lekawa testified, "They did everything right," explaining the hospital’s handling of Thomas.
Reuters reported that Fullerton fire Captain Ron Stancyk, a paramedic that was called to the scene, tended to injuries incurred by the officers themselves upon arrival. Stancyk testified in court that none of the officers alerted him to the fact that Thomas was lying near death when he arrived.
Judge Schwarz will decide soon whether he feels as if there is enough evidence to bring the officers to trial.
If convicted, Ramos faces a maximum sentence of 15-years-to-live in jail and Cicinelli could be jailed for four years.