Santa Ana, CA, United States (4E) – An Orange County jury has acquitted two former police officers of Fullerton accused of beating to death a mentally ill and homeless man in 2011.
Manuel Anthony Ramos, 39, was acquitted of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter of Kelly Thomas while Jay Cicinelli, 41, was acquitted of excessive force and involuntary manslaughter of the schizophrenic man. The jury arrived at their verdict announced on Monday after two days of deliberation.
The former policemen and their attorneys were relieved in winning the first case of county officers charged with murder while performing their duty. The 12 jurors were convinced from the arguments of the defense lawyers and a 33-minute surveillance video of the incident that the officers were trying to subdue an unruly Thomas, not beat him to death.
Thomas’ family and supporters were disappointed by the verdict. A sobbing mother of Thomas muttered that the cops got away with murder. The father, Ron Thomas, said he hoped that the U.S. Justice Department would file federal charges against Ramos and Cicinelli, according to LA Times. The FBI in Los Angeles said it will examine the evidence and testimony to determine if a federal investigation will be done.
Thomas’ counsel, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, said the trial was fair and he will no longer pursue the same case against a third officer involved in the beating of the victim.
Some 25 witnesses testified in the three-week trial at a Santa Ana courtroom.
On July 5, 2011, Ramos, Cicinelli, Joe Wolfe and three other officers responded to a complaint that Thomas was rattling car doors outside a downtown Fullerton bus depot. Thomas refused arrest and was violently subdued. Thomas was also tasered in the face. An autopsy said Thomas died from brain damage due to lack of oxygen attributed to chest compression when officers piled on him.