SANTA ANA, Calif. - Two
former Fullerton police officers were found not guilty Monday in the beating death of homeless man Kelly Thomas, reports CBS Los Angeles.
two days of deliberation, a jury of eight women and four men acquitted former
officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli of all charges in connection with the death of the 37-year-old Thomas, who died on July 5, 2011, after being beaten
by as many as six cops.
got into an altercation with Thomas at the Fullerton bus depot after responding
to a report of someone attempting to break into cars. As he struggled against
authorities, Thomas screamed for air and repeatedly called out for his father.
He was taken to the hospital after losing consciousness and was taken off life
support five days after later.
encounter between Thomas and the officers was captured on video and posted
online, resulting in much public debate.
was charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree murder-the first
time in the history of Orange County that a law enforcement officer was charged
with a homicide while Cicinelli faced involuntary manslaughter and use of
excessive force charges.
attorneys argued that Thomas' death was the result of an enlarged heart caused
by years of drug abuse.
Thomas, mother of the victim, had strong feelings about the court's
decision. "They got away with murdering my son," she said after the
verdict was read.
this means is that all of us need to be very afraid now," said father Ron
Thomas, the man Kelly Thomas called out for while being beaten. "Police
officers everywhere can beat us, kill us, do whatever they want because it was
proven here today they can get away with it."
statement issued just after the verdict by Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes
read: "We respect the jury's verdict, and appreciate the consideration the
jury gave to the evidence. We understand that there may be a wide variety of
reactions to the verdict and encourage anybody who wishes to express their
feelings to do so respectfully."
Monday night, Kelly Thomas supporters gathered outside the Fullerton Police
Department to protest the verdict.
spokesperson confirmed to CBS Los Angeles that they've begun investigating the
case to see if Thomas' civil rights were violated during the altercation.