LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Fullerton Chief of Police has rejected a request from an officer cleared in the 2011 beating death of a mentally ill homeless man to return to work.
Former Cpl. Jay Cicinelli was acquitted last week of involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force in the death of Kelly Thomas.
KCAL9’s Stacey Butler reports the Fullerton City Council met Tuesday to debate whether Cicinelli’s request to return to work would be approved.
Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes emphasized the jury’s verdict has no impact on the employment status of the former officer and announced that he stands by his decision terminate Cicinelli.
Thomas’ father, Ron Thomas, was among those present at the hearing.
“He made the decision and he is sticking by it. I support that,” he said.
Fearing a repeat of the violence that broke out along Kelly Thomas protestors Monday, Ron Thomas also asked for calm.
“The reason I am is to make sure there is no civil unrest,” he said.
“If they [protestors] show up again the police department is ready for them. We do not support any type of violence like that,” he said.
A jury last week acquitted both Cicinelli and former officer Manuel Ramos, charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.
At the center of the trial was a 33-minute surveillance video, which began with Ramos stopping Thomas on July 5, 2011, after the officer answered a call about a disheveled man jiggling the handles of car doors in a busy transit center parking lot.
Their acquittals shocked supporters of the Thomas family, who were confident of a conviction because the footage shows six officers piling on Thomas, kneeing him and punching him as he cries out for his father and begs for air.
Ron Thomas has said his son was diagnosed with schizophrenia and didn’t understand the officers’ commands.
However, attorney John Barnett, who represented Ramos, introduced evidence of at least seven previous encounters between Ramos and Thomas to bolster his argument that Thomas was not a “homeless, harmless, helpless mentally ill guy.”
Three other officers involved in the arrest weren’t charged.
Prosecutors dropped charges against another officer who was awaiting trial.
The FBI is reviewing the case to see if federal charges are justified now that the state trial is done.
Ron Thomas has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Fullerton over the conduct of its officers.
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