Former Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, who after being acquitted of involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force in the fatal beating of Kelly Thomas, announced last week that he would fight to get his job back. In 2012, the Fullerton police department fired him after Orange County prosecutors pressed charges, and is standing by its decision.
“I was wrongfully terminated. How do you argue with a jury of 12 who all agree on the same thing?” the officer questioned. Cicinelli added a surprisingly tone-deaf, woe-is-me claim that his “whole life has been stopped” because of his involvement in the brutal treatment of the schizophrenic and homeless Thomas. The cop's lawyer, Michael Schwartz, told the Los Angeles Times that he expects to win the appeal.
Fullerton Chief of Police Dan Hughes has different ideas. He doesn't want Cicinelli back on the force. He said, “Former Police Officer Jay Cicinelli has alleged that he was wrongfully terminated and has demanded his job back... I stand behind the employment decisions I have made.”
A local CBS affiliate covered the Fullerton City Council yesterday, which met to discuss whether or not they would approve Cicinelli's appeal. Hughes reiterated, “Although a terminated employee has the opportunity to appeal his or her termination through an administrative appeal process... I intend to vigorously defend my decisions.” Thomas' father and numerous other residents expressed similar sentiments.
David Whiting of The Orange County Register suggests that Cicinelli may not actually be qualified to protect and serve, due to a physical impairment. The officer previously worked for the Los Angeles Police Department, during which time he was shot and lost an eye. He was deemed unable to work in the field he has received retirement compensation from the city since 1996. Whiting points out the conflict of “agree[ing] you're a disabled police officer and then also accept wages for being an able-bodied police officer.”
Reason's Jacob Sullum makes a strong case for why Cicinelli and his fellow officer, Manuel Ramos, should not be retried, lest they be subjected to double jeopardy.
On whether or not that means Cicinelli deserves his job back, Whiting makes an equally valid point: “A verdict of not guilty doesn't necessarily mean a defendant is innocent. And being acquitted of involuntary manslaughter doesn't mean the Fullerton Police Department wrongfully terminated Cicinelli.”
For more coverage from Reason.com on the death of Kelly Thomas, watch Paul Detrick's video of protesters who have spoken out against the Fullerton Police Department below: