Jury began deliberations Thursday to decide fate of two former Fullerton police officers charged with the murder of Kelly Thomas
SANTA ANA – Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas on Thursday implored the jury to use their common sense to come to a conclusion that Fullerton Police officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cincinelli used excessive and unlawful force in a 2011 encounter with homeless man Kelly Thomas that the prosecutor argued ultimately caused his death.
In the final statements the jury will hear by the defense and prosecution, Rackauckas, Orange County’s highest attorney, systematically attempted to discredit the defense’s claims.
This culminated with Rackauckas playing the portion of the security tape that captured the confrontation that includes Kelly Thomas repeatedly yelling “Daddy” as he was being beaten by several police officers.
“(The case) is not an indictment of the Fullerton Police Department or the police in general … This is about a defendant, namely Ramos, who acted as a police officer but abused his authority,” Rackauckas said. “And it’s about another police officer who … unnecessarily increased that level of force … and that played a substantial part in the death of Kelly Thomas.”
Rackauckas said this trial is special in that it features video and audio evidence that show the confrontation, and urged the jury to watch the tape.
According to Rackauckas, Ramos and Cincinelli attempted to downplay their involvement and actions in the confrontation. But, for example, the tape shows Cincinelli repeatedly beating Thomas and afterward saying he “beat him probably 20 times in the face with this Taser,” Rackauckas argued.
The jury was dismissed to deliberate late this morning and is expected to deliberate at least through the day.
Defense attorney John Barnett, who is representing Ramos and Cicinelli, told reporters at a news conference following the rebuttal that the police officers were acting by the book during the confrontation.
“They did as they were taught, they did as they were told,” Barnett said.
Barnett said the case has already “devastated all law enforcement” since police officers need to look over their shoulders and fear the courts.
Rackackas said he wanted the jury to consider all the evidence as a whole and not to tip their hats on one specific item.
“It’s up to you to determine if the police used excessive or legal force,” Rackauckas said. “It’s up to you to determine the credibility of those witnesses.”
Rackackas’ final rebuttal finished the arguments stage of a five-week trial that, two and a half years after the incident, has highlighted issues of mental illness, police tactics and police brutality.
Kelly Thomas died in hospital care in July 2011 five days after the confrontation.
Ramos has been charged with second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter and Cincinelli has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force.
Story and photo by Tim Worden, Jan. 9, 2014 at 12:30 p.m. Last updated on Jan. 10, 2014 at noon.