Two Fullerton, Calif. police officers standing trial for the brutal beating that killed a homeless man were found not guilty Monday.
Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinell, a former officer and corporal for the Fullerton Police Department, attacked Kelly Thomas in July 2011 after an employee at a bar nearby reported that a homeless man was breaking into cars, KTLA reported. Thomas, 37, had a history of schizophrenia and drug abuse, although there were no drugs or alcohol in his system that night, according to the autopsy.
A surveillance video shows Ramos approaching Thomas. It was not their first encounter, as Thomas was frequently seen in the area.
“See my fists? They’re getting ready to f*** you up,” Ramos says, putting on rubber gloves.
Cicinelli joins Ramos and another officer soon after, who are struggling with Thomas and striking him with their batons. Cicinelli uses his Taser on Thomas and then hits him with the butt of his gun, breaking several bones.
Thomas’ last words were “Dad, they are killing me.”
He was taken to the hospital, where he died five days later, never regaining consciousness. The coroner’s report stated that Thomas died of asphyxia from the beating and injuries to his head and chest.
“I’m just horrified. They got away with murdering my son,” said Thomas’ mother Cathy Thomas, upon hearing the not guilty verdict. “It’s just not fair. I guess … it’s legal to go out and kill now.”
Thomas’ father, Ron Thomas, a former sheriff’s deputy, also expressed his anger to the media following the trial.
“What was he doing but begging for his life that he deserved to get beat in the face with a deadly weapon?” Ron Thomas said. “They never said, ‘Kelly, have you had enough?’ He would have certainly said ‘yes’ because he was begging for his life.”
The judge decided not to try the third officer involved.
The verdict was met by widespread anger and dismay, with 100 demonstrators gathering at the site of the beating and later the Fullerton police station holding candles and signs.
The FBI has said it would examine the evidence more closely if necessary, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"With the conclusion of the state court trial, investigators will examine the evidence and testimony to determine whether further investigation is warranted at the federal level," FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller in Los Angeles said in a statement.
Ramos' attorney, John Barnett, maintained the verdict was the right one.
"These peace officers were doing their jobs.... They did what they were trained to do," Ramos said.