FULLERTON (CBS) — The Fullerton police officer accused of beating a 37-year-old homeless man to death has been released from jail.
Manuel Ramos, 37, who is facing a charge of second-degree murder in the death of Kelly Thomas, was released on bail early Thursday morning.
Ramos, a 10-year-veteran with the department, pleaded not guilty Monday before a judge rejected a request to lower his $1 million bail.
Thomas, a schizophrenic homeless man, died after a confrontation with six police officers who were responding to reports of car burglaries.
Officer Jay Cicinelli, 39, was also charged with involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas says video of the incident shows Ramos initiating the deadly beating.
CBS2 spoke with Ramos’ attorney John Barnett, who confirmed that his bail money was raised by family and friends.
“Being a police officer does not strip you of your constitutional rights,” Barnett said. “He made bail… I’m glad that he’s out. It will be much easier to mount our defense with him out of custody.”
Thomas’ father spoke exclusively with CBS2 Thursday morning about Ramos’ release.
“Well, I’m dissatisfied, but it is out process that we have to life with. Ramos, and even Cicinelli, belong behind bars,” Ron Thomas said. “That’s really where I want them to be.”
He also says his son was the victim of a hate crime.
“I think it was definitely, and I’ve said this from the beginning, a hate crime towards the homeless and the mentally ill. Ramos knew my son very well and he should have handled it much differently, but he didn’t. So I think he was specifically targeted in that very, very aggressive manner because he was homeless and schizophrenic.”
Thomas says he will attend Ramos’ preliminary hearing, which is scheduled for Nov. 4.
“I absolutely will attend. I need to stay aware of what’s going on. I need to be there for my son.”