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Jonathan Lloyd and Vikki Vargas, NBC-LA: Two officers charged with the beating death of Kelly Thomas — OCDA Tony Rackauckas says Officer Manuel Ramos Made “Declaration of Violence:”

Two officers charged with the beating death of Kelly Thomas — OCDA Tony Rackauckas says Officer Manuel Ramos Made “Declaration of Violence:” 

by Jonathan Lloyd and Vikki Vargas, September 21, 2011

Officer Manuel Ramos made a “declaration of violence” and set in motion a chain of events July 5 that led to the death of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas, according to the Orange County District Attorney.

Ramos will face second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Thomas, who died five days after the altercation with Ramos and five other officers. Ramos faces up to life in prison, if convicted.

Officer Jay Cicinelli was charged with  involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force.

The defendants surrendered Wednesday morning to Orange County authorities. Arraignment was scheduled for 2 p.m., Wednesday.

“I didn’t expect this,” Ron Thomas, Kelly Thomas’ father, said after Wednesday’s announcement. “I am elated. This is really what I wanted, at least two of them.”

Ramos (pictured, top left) responded to a report of break-ins at the depot and detained Thomas — a homeless man who suffered from mental illness — by holding him down as other officers responded, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said. During the arrest, Ramos put on latex gloves, balled his fists and told Thomas, “See my fists? They’re getting ready to ‘f’ you up,” the DA said.

“By making this declaration of violence, Ramos instilled in that victim fear, a reasonable fear for his life, that he was in danger and he was in danger by a police officer who wanted to ‘f’ him up with his fists,”  Rackauckas said.

Four other officers involved in the arrest were not charged.

“The rest of the police officers who arrived at the scene arrived in response to the calls for assistance,” Rackauckas said. “The evidence does not show any participation in an unlawful act on the part of these officers.”

The evidence includes video from cell phones, surveillance video from the bus depot, on-board bus videos, 151 witness account, police reports from all the officers involved, medical reports, and an examination of physical evidence, such as batons and stun guns used in the beating, Rackauckas said.

Ron Thomas, Kelly Thomas’ father, told NBC4 Wednesday that he was invited to meet with the DA after the news conference. Unless murder charges are filed, he said that won’t happen.

“I need manslaughter, at least, based on the malice,” Ron Thomas said before Wednesday’s announcement.

The six officers involved in the arrest were placed on administrative leave.

Ron Thomas was at Tuesday’s Fullerton City Council meeting, which included a shouting match involving the mayor and attendees.

Kelly Thomas was arrested July 5 after police responded to a report of vehicle break-ins at a Fullerton bus depot. He was hospitalized after the beating, but removed from life support five days later.

The case prompted outrage, protests, heated city council meetings and a recall effort in the following weeks. The FBI is investigating whether Kelly Thomas’ civil rights were violated, and the city hired an independent investigator to conduct a review of the arrest.

Thomas’ father, a former sheriff’s deputy who served in the Army, and mother filed a claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — against Fullerton.

Related: Kelly Thomas Case Timeline 





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