Kelly Thomas, the California homeless man who was beaten to death by police officers in 2011 during an altercation, is the subject of quite a bit of controversy this week after the former officers were found not guilty.
The charges–second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges against Manuel Ramos and involuntary manslaughter and excessive force charges against Jay Cicinelli–were rejected on Monday by a jury, shocking Thomas’ family.
“I’ve never seen such a miscarriage of justice,” he said. “It’s so blatant. It means none of us are safe…this is carte blanche to police officers to do whatever they want,” Ron Thomas, the victim’s father, said.
Thomas, who suffered from a mental illness, was caught on a surveillance camera in a transit parking lot when the officers began beating, tasing, and clubbing him in July 2011. Thomas slipped into a coma for five days but ultimately passed away due to a lack of oxygen which was caused, among other things, by chest compression that occurred during the violent altercation.
“I’m just horrified. They got away with murdering my son,” Cathy Thomas, Kelly’s mother, said.
Though Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes asked citizens to remain calm after the verdict was read and to respect the decision, many voiced their opinions in a protest outside the courtroom and in front of police headquarters, at Occupy L.A.’s request.
The jury took less than a full day to deliberate; a third trial for officer Joseph Wolfe will not be pursued.
“I don’t intend to proceed with another trial when the two officers here were acquitted,” Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said.
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