On Monday, Jan. 13, former Fullerton, CA police officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli were found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges related to the beating death of homeless schizophrenic Kelly Thomas.
Charges that were to be filed against a third officer will no longer be pursued due to the acquittal. While Ramos was found not guilty of second-degree murder and involuntary, the Orange County jury found Cicinelli not guilty of manslaughter and excessive use of force. The fatal altercation took place on July 5, 2011, and Thomas died five days later on July 10.
Throughout the trial, jurors viewed the surveillance video which showed Thomas being approached by the officers at a bus terminal. The video went on to show the gruesome attack that led to Thomas' death.
The prosecution argued that officers were excessively abusing their authority, continuously striking Thomas with a baton, while he was shocked with a stun gun as he plead for help.
The defense went for the obvious contention, asserting that Thomas reacted violently toward the officers when they approached him. The defense classified their actions as a collaborative effort to restrain him. As a result of the brutal lashing, Thomas suffered brain damage, due to lack of oxygen, caused by severe chest compression, and a series of other injures.
Ultimately, the jury ruled in favor of the defense. After deliberating for less than a day, the jury returned with a 'not guilty' verdict. According to the LA Times, the verdict left many flabbergasted. Thomas' parents were among those left in total shock and disbelief.
"They got away with murdering my son," said Cathy Thomas. "He was so innocent. It just isn't fair at all."
Kelly's father, Ron Thomas, a former Orange County Sheriff's deputy also weighed in with his own disdain of the verdict. "I've never seen such a miscarriage of justice," he said. "It's so blatant. It means none of us are safe."
Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes shared that the department has since taken "significant steps" toward exercising preventive measures in an effort to forestall similar incidents in the future.
Warning: Video Contains Graphic Content