SANTA ANA (AP) — Two Fullerton police officers who were acquitted of criminal wrongdoing in the 2011 death of a mentally ill homeless man violated their department’s use-of-force policy, according to an internal report.
The report, written by an independent auditor, details the former officers’ actions as they engaged in a violent struggle with Kelly Thomas.
It was not introduced in the criminal trial that led to last year’s acquittals because of state laws protecting the confidentiality of peace officers’ disciplinary records.
The 2012 report came to light recently after it was included in a legal filing in a wrongful-death civil lawsuit brought by Thomas’ father against the city, the Fullerton Police Department, the formers officers and others. That trial is slated for later this month.
Former Officer Manuel Ramos was acquitted of second-degree murder.
Former Cpl. Jay Cicinelli was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter.
Both were also acquitted of excessive use of force.
A 33-minute surveillance video recorded the incident. The video, matched up with audio from Ramos’ body recorder, was a central piece of evidence in the criminal trial.
The video began with Ramos stopping Thomas after the officer answered a call about a disheveled man jiggling the handles of car doors in a busy transit center parking lot in the city of more than 300,000 residents about 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
Ramos grew frustrated with Thomas, who wasn’t following orders to sit on a curb with his hands on his knees.
Just before the altercation began, Ramos snapped on plastic gloves, made two fists and then held them in front of Thomas’ face as he said, “Now see these fists? They’re going to (expletive) you up.”
Cicinelli, who arrived a few moments later, jolted Thomas several times with an electric stun gun and used the butt end to hit Thomas in the head and face, breaking bones.
In the internal report, the auditor noted that Cicinelli was recorded immediately after the incident saying that he had “smashed his face to hell” and “(expletive) beat him probably twenty times in the face with this Taser.”
Cicinelli told investigators that he hit Thomas in the face because he feared he was grabbing at his electric stun gun.
Thomas was taken off life support five days after the July 5, 2011, encounter.
A county pathologist ruled Thomas died, in part, from asphyxiation caused by injuries he received during the confrontation.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the internal report would be used at trial by the plaintiffs.
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