SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — An eight-woman, four-man jury found two former Fullerton police officers not guilty in the beating death of a homeless man.
After about eight hours of deliberation over two days, former Fullerton police Officer Manuel Ramos and ex-Corporal Jay Cicinelli, a former LAPD officer, were acquitted of all charges in connection with the beating death of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas on July 5, 2011.
Ramos faced charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, the first law enforcement officer in the history of Orange County to be charged with a homicide. Cicinelli was charged with involuntary manslaughter and using excessive force.
“They got away with murdering my son,” said Cathy Thomas, mother of Kelly Thomas, after the verdict was read.
“Two and a half years and there’s no justice for Kelly, none. He died in vain. And how many others are doing the same thing because they didn’t have a video watching them,” Kelly Thomas supporter Jeanie Dieball said.
Police confronted Thomas at the Fullerton bus depot while investigating a report of someone trying to break into cars.
Immediately after the verdict was read just before 4 p.m., Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes issued the following statement.
“We respect the jury’s verdict, and appreciate the consideration the jury gave to the evidence. We understand that there may be a wide variety of reactions to the verdict and encourage anybody to wishes to express their feelings to do so repectfully.
“Over the course of the past two and a half years the City of Fullerton Police Department has taken significant steps to make it the best department possible. As Fullerton’s new Police Chief, I will make sure those efforts continue so that our police department serves the community with honor, integrity and professionalism.”
Defense attorney John Barnett said he wasn’t surprised by the verdict: “These peace officers were doing their jobs. They were operating as they were trained.”
Ron Thomas, who says he put his life on hold for two and a half years in pursuit of justice for his son, was in the courtroom as the verdict was read.