Fullerton Cops To Stand Trial In Homeless Man’s Beating Death

Two police officers in Fullerton, California, will be tried in the death of a mentally ill homeless man whose apparent beating by police was captured on video, a judge ruled on May 10.

Officer Manuel Ramos and Police Corporal Jay Cicinelli are charged in the death of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas: Ramos with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, and Cicinelli with involuntary manslaughter and assault or battery by a public officer. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Last year I wrote here about the death of Thomas, who was pummeled, shocked with a Taser, and beaten with the butt of a stun gun on July 5, and died several days later from his severe injuries.

Attorneys for the officers have questioned whether medical treatment, not the actual beating, could have resulted in Thomas’ death.

Warning – Disturbing Video

Perhaps they haven’t seen the 8-minute video of Kelly Thomas being beaten to death? I am adding the link here, but must warn you that this is painful to watch and even more painful to hear, as Thomas’ screams for help echo in the night. This surveillance video, taken from a publicly mounted camera, coupled with an audio recording device worn by an officer, stunned a packed courtroom of Thomas’ supporters when it was shown for the first time Monday.

This video was indeed the key evidence in the prosecution’s successful effort to convince the court to force these two  police officers to stand trial.

Here’s how NPR describes what happens in the video:

Ramos approaches Thomas and tells him repeatedly to extend his feet in front of him and to put his hands on his knees.

After several minutes, the recordings show a visibly annoyed Ramos slowly putting on latex gloves and, using expletives, threatening Thomas with his fists.

The confrontation escalates, and Thomas is seen trying to run from Ramos, who hits him with a baton. Soon after, another officer assists Ramos, as Thomas apologizes and insists that he can’t breathe.

In all, six officers tried to subdue Thomas, who is heard in the recording crying for help and for his father.

The judge reviewing the evidence this week halted proceedings as audience members gasped and cried out as the video was screened.

For weeks last year, dozens of supporters rallied in front of Fullerton’s police headquarters demanding that the officers be prosecuted. Under pressure, the chief of police took a medical leave of absence, then resigned, and three City Council members have been targeted for recall.

Shining A Light On Mistreatment Of Mentally Ill

What good can come out of Kelly Thomas’ death? The focus on yet another case of police brutality is important, and in addition, mental health advocates say this case has brought much needed attention to the mistreatment of the mentally ill.

As Rusty Selix, executive director of the Mental Health Association of California, puts it: “I think every law enforcement unit will want to think about, ‘Gee, are we ready? Would we have responded the same way?’ ”

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Photo Credit: Mark VP Photography


Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari L5 years ago

This could happen to anyone and it's the same all over the world. Do a search for Gothenburg 2001, Whitfeldtska. The police attacked a peaceful gathering of protesters, forced the people out to lie on the ground for six hours, hit those that moved an inch and threatened to do severe harm to those that objected to their treatment. The officer in charge (Jaldung) were promoted and no police have ever been charged for any of the events that took place, A young man was shot (the first time since 1931 that shots have been fired against demonstrators in Sweden. In 1931 five people were brutally killed by the military in Ådalen) and he and others were sentenced to various punishments for everything from violent behaviour to plotting attacks on the police. Filmed material were altered by the police to justify the police actions. And, no police have been charged with anything, even though a commission later stated that the police acted wrecklessly and used unnecessary force and violated people's civil rights. The police state is universal!

June L.
June Lacy5 years ago


darlene r.
darlene r5 years ago

that was sick and so unecessary, that first cop was just lookin to start something, what i seen was this guy was trying to cooperate and the cop wanted a punching bag, karma will get you buddy. so senseless.

Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Jane Barton
Jane Barton5 years ago

We live in a police state. None of us are safe from THEM. They have a license to kill and we do not. This problem has gotten worse and worse over the years. That's because NeoCONS
have taken over our government and they are waging a war on the poor and indigent, not to speak of their war on women. This trial is a public show and down the line I'm willing to bet
these guys will get off. Cops never see the inside of a jail cell but all cop KILLERS get the death penalty.

Jane R.
Jane R5 years ago

I did force mysel to watch the video. Now I feel like throwing up. Everyone of the police officers involved in this tortureous, muderous act should be put to death!! This man was compliant in every way. He was simply murdered for no reason at all.
This video makes me hate all law inforcement officers. Who will be next? Me or You?

James W.
James W5 years ago

These 2 cops should homeless, Assholes with a badge.

Jane R.
Jane R5 years ago

This article alone sickens me. I cannot bring myself to watch such a brutal act. These officers should all have to be put through the same horrific torture they put this man through!! Then be thrown in jail for life! They are meant to protect the public law abiding citizens not abuse their authority and torture people. They give law enforcement a bad name!!!

Jane Barton
Jane Barton5 years ago

"If you or I had done this, we would have been arrested, locked up and the key thrown away forever."

EXACTLY! Not only THIS but EVERYTHING. Here's an example: Big Ag has been feeding YOUR CHILDREN dog food mixed with BLEACH (pink slime) for 12 years under the cutesy
name of "finely textured beef". If YOU had done this, they would take your kids away and jail you. Cops are above the law and they are put in this position of power and given a gun
to protect RICH people against the POOR people, even when the POOR people are INNOCENT.