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Journalism

Kelly Thomas supporters gather in Fullerton to protest jury’s ‘not guilty’ verdict

Kelly Thomas
Kelly Thomas supporters sign a memory support book soon after hearing the jury’s verdict that two former Fullerton police officers were not guilty in the homeless man’s 2011 death.


By Tim Worden. Published Jan. 13, 2014 at 4:15 p.m. Updated Jan. 14, 2014 at 8 a.m.

In an emotional show of support, Ron Thomas, father of Kelly Thomas, spoke to a crowd of more than 100 supporters Monday night saying that he will bring justice to Kelly, a homeless man who was killed in a 2011 police confrontation that has rippled through the city of Fullerton for two and a half years.

While speaking to the crowd, Ron Thomas, wearing a pin that read, “I am the voice for Kelly Thomas,” said he will pursue other means of bringing justice to his son, such as seeking to change the California peace officers’ bill of rights.

“I want to change things,” Thomas said.

The gathering was sparked by a jury’s verdict Thursday afternoon that former Fullerton police officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cincinelli are not guilty on all counts in the 2011 death of homeless man Kelly Thomas.

The counts ranged from excessive force  to involuntary manslaughter and 2nd degree murder.

Supporters, who began trickling in to the makeshift Kelly Thomas memorial shortly after the verdict was reached on Monday afternoon, quickly set up a podium with a Kelly Thomas guestbook for people to write down their support.

One supporter carved “Kelly” into the sidewalk with wax from a candle.

Members of the media record a supporter talking.
Members of the media record a supporter talking.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, Orange County’s highest attorney, personally served as the prosecutor alleging that Ramos and Cincinelli acted beyond their authority in the encounter.

“(The case) is not an indictment of the Fullerton Police Department or the police in general,” Rackacuckas said in his closing arguments rebuttal. “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.”

Defense attorney John Barnett at the conclusion of the arguments phase of the trial said that the two officers acted by the book and according to their training in their encounter with Thomas.

“They did as they were taught, they did as they were told,” Barnett said.

Ron Thomas, father of Kelly Thomas, speaks to the media in downtown Fullerton on Monday night.
Ron Thomas, father of Kelly Thomas, speaks to the media in downtown Fullerton on Monday night.
Categories
Journalism

DA Rackauckas urges jury to use common sense to find officers guilty in death of Kelly Thomas

Defense Attorney John Barnett tells reporters that former officers Ramos and Cincinelli acted by the book and according to their training at a news conference outside the Orange County Superior Courthouse on Thursday morning.
Defense Attorney John Barnett tells reporters that former officers Ramos and Cincinelli acted by the book and according to their training at a news conference outside the Orange County Superior Courthouse on Thursday morning.
  • 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.

The Kelly Thomas memorial in downtown Fullerton, the site of the July 2011 confrontation, was decorated with a sign saying "Hope" when the trial began in December 2012.
The Kelly Thomas memorial in downtown Fullerton, the site of the July 2011 confrontation, was decorated with a sign saying “Hope” when the trial began in December 2012.

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.