Police Charged with Murdering California Homeless Man

Santa Ana, California — Every American has the right to self defense, even against police officers, and no one in law enforcement has the right to use unreasonable force in the performance of their duty. That was the final determination made by Tony Rachauckas, Orange County’s (CA) District Attorney, after examining evidence of the July 5th beating murder of Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man whose life was brutally cut short by at least two on-duty Fullerton police officers, Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli. A total of six officers were put on paid administrative leave after Thomas’ death and prior to today’s charges.

Ramos was charged with second degree murder for craven acts that “were reckless and created a high risk of death and great bodily injury” said Rachauckas. Cicinelli, the second officer charged, is now facing involuntary manslaughter and felony excessive force. The California prosecutor further described Kelly’s last moments in excruciating detail, recalling his numerous pain-filled pleas of “I’m sorry. I can’t breath. Help, Dad.”

The district attorney described the crimes against Thomas as a “violent and desperate struggle”. A full description of the event by witnesses described the shocking extent of Thomas’ injuries and the brutality of the officers’ acts. Thomas died from brain injuries, as a result of overwhelming head trauma. Thomas suffered a variety of broken bones to the nose and cheeks, head and ribs. During the assault, Thomas was shocked repeatedly by police tasers to the head, face, back and chest cavity. The medical report showed that Thomas suffered internal bleeding, causing him to choke of his own blood.

This inhumane assault on Thomas was conducted by no less than a half dozen officers responding to a call of vehicles being broken into. Following the beating, no evidence could be found in the area of vehicles burglarized, nor was any stolen property found on Thomas.

Thomas died because six officers of the Fullerton Police Department didn’t know how to react or respond to a mentally ill person in distress and crisis. When faced with a situation that caused confusion, law enforcement at the scene chose brutal force to subdue Mr. Thomas. This was not an example of appropriate police procedures gone awry. This was a clear case of criminal ignorance, which caused the death of anther human being. This could have all been avoided by the appropriate training of law enforcement in engaging a variety of types of individuals with various mental illnesses. It should have been avoided by Mr. Thomas receiving the appropriate treatment in a place he could call home.

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6 Responses to Police Charged with Murdering California Homeless Man

  1. Andre' Colter says:

    The sad truth is violence and harassment is a common occurrence perpetrated on impoverished, homeless and mentally ill individuals by law enforcement. The seed of distrust is sown and nourished during and in the aftermath of these situations. This does not bode well for the ideal of “public safety”.
    It also brings to question, “Protect and Serve Who??’’

  2. Dana Woolfolk says:

    Yes Neil, you are absolutely right. These officers were not sufficiently trained to deal appropriately with someone who was mentally ill and homeless. Many jurisdictions across the country have begun training its officers in the Crisis Intervention model (CIT). I have helped facilitate this training in the community in which I work and have been on the scene when a CIT trained officer responds. The difference is amazing. This model is one more step in the right direction toward assisting our most vulnerable neighbors during any encounter with law enforcement. More police departments could benefit from this training. We can only hope that more communities place enough value on human life to invest in these kinds of training’s for law enforcement.

  3. Tom Bole says:

    Unless I missed it, I did not see where they were convicted, only charged. The presumption of innocense is just as important as treating the mentally ill justly. I have mentally ill, grown children and, I have worked extensively on the streets and in the shelters with hundreds of homeless people, many of whom are mentally ill. I say this because my experience with both the police and the homeless and mentally ill has given me a unique perspective of what both are required to deal with.

  4. Robert Rutledge (homeless) says:

    The prosecuting district attorney still places a lesser value on Kelly Thomas’ life by being unwilling or incapable of obtaining multiple life sentences for these officers. Training or lack thereof is a poor excuse. Had the roles been reversed the citizen would have got life. These gangs(police) have one difference a badge. Street gangs dont even go so low. I value the police and respect the AUTHORITY it stands for but everyone is an individual.

  5. JJC says:

    While there is a need for expanded training of police officers in the handling of people with mental illness, what happened in this situation – and numerous others – could not have been the accidental use of force beyond what was necessary to protect the officers or anyone else. Anyone who participates in such a gang beating should be aggressively prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, shunned by decent people, and subject to lifelong monitoring and restricted whereabouts.
    That being said, it is also important to recognize, acknowledge, and support the compassion of some police officers toward homeless people. We can help improve the attitude of police departments and individual officers by taking the time to thank them for progressive policy and individual acts of kindness through opinion letters `to the editor’ of widely read publications and personal comments (examples: “Thank you for letting him/her/them sleep here.”, “Thank you for the way you handled that.”, etc.). A police officer can be a wonderful ally in the improvement of attitudes of people experiencing homelessness.

  6. markm8128 says:

    I am working on a page devoted to documenting all of the brutal
    homeless camp clearings that are taking place in California:

    California Homelessness Reporter

    Please let me know if you hear of any others!

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