September 21, 2011

Two Police Officers Charged with Murder and Manslaughter in Taser-Killing of Kelly Thomas

Orange County district attorney Tony Rackauckas has criminally charged two Fullerton police officers in the violent confrontation ... including multiple taser shots in the face of 37-year old Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man.

Officer Manuel Ramos has been charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the beating of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man. Officer Jay Cicinelli has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force.

Rackauckas said the department reviewed 151 witness statements, videos of the beating, medical reports and police statements. It is obvious that the power of smartphone cameras along with pressure from the 'new media' is making a difference.

Officers approached Kelly Thomas on July 5 at the bus depot in downtown Fullerton while responding to a report of someone trying to break into cars. According to witness accounts, Thomas ran when officers attempted to search his bag. Exactly what happened next is unclear, but witnesses said they saw multiple officers hitting Kelly and shooting him with a Taser while he was on the ground. [Video]

Officials from the district attorney's office have said they were awaiting toxicology and other test results from the coroner before making a decision on the case. That report was handed over to the district attorney's office Tuesday, but the findings were not made public.

Thomas, a 37-year-old homeless man with schizophrenia, was a regular presence in downtown Fullerton. He died five days after the confrontation, after being removed from life support.

Earlier this month, an attorney representing the Thomas family released hospital records that showed Thomas had tested negative for drugs and alcohol and that the immediate cause of death was "brain death" due to "head trauma" from the incident.

The hospital records released showed that he suffered brain injuries, a shattered nose, a smashed cheekbone, broken ribs and severe internal bleeding (see photo). Thomas also had been shocked with a stun gun "multiple" times, including in the left chest near the heart, the records showed.

Thomas' father, Ron, has been pushing the district attorney's office to file charges against the officers, and the case has sparked a furious reaction, including weekly protests outside the police station and a recall campaign against three City Council members.

This death went beyond just the use of tasers.   These police officers felt a blood-lust streaming their their bodies on July 5th.  There can be no other explanation for the way that they treated this UNARMED man who was screaming for help from his Dad while being electrocuted and beaten.   This blog is glad to see that criminal charges are being filed against at least two of the officers involved in this taser-related killing.

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