Civil Liberties

Liveblog: The Orange County District Attorney's Kelly Thomas Hearing [Breaking: Two Officers Charged with Second and Third Degree Murder]


The Orange County District Attorney's office will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. PST to announce whether it will file charges against the six Fullerton police officers involved in Kelly Thomas's beating last July. KFI 640 will carry the press conference live. We'll be liveblogging it here starting in a few minutes. (Time stamps are EST, fyi)

2:01 p.m. Breaking: Officer Manuel Ramos Charged With Second Degree Murder in Death of Kelly Thomas. According to the AP, "Fullerton police Officer Manuel Ramos surrendered to authorities Wednesday and was being charged with second-degree murder." 

2:04 p.m. VoiceofOC tweets: Two #Fullerton police officers have been charged with the violent confrontation with Kelly Thomas.

2:05 p.m. Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas is speaking. "The public has been crying out for justice for Kelly Thomas." 

"We must do everything we can to protect this trust. Including, when necessary, prosecuting police officers who break the law." 

[Rackauckas's office has interviewed 151 people since July 7.]

I'm charging Officer Manuel Ramos with one felony account for second degree murder and one felony count of felony manslaughter. If convicted he could do 15 year or more in prison. 

Jay Cicinelli faces one felony count of manslaughter and one felony count of excessive force. Could face four years in prison. 

Ramos knew Kelly Thomas from prior contacts. He did not believe Kelly Thomas posed him any risk. Thomas was shirtless with a backpack wearing a pants with no obvious bulges. The officers did not think he needed to be patted down. While Ramos's partner went through Thomas's backpack, Ramos gave Thomas instructions. His instructions were to sit with his legs out with his hands on his knees. It would be obvious to any reasonable observer that Thomas had cognitive issues and had problems following Ramos's instructions. After several minutes, Ramos escalated the contact into a physical altercation. 

Ramos made a deliberate showing of putting on latex gloves in front of Kelly Thomas. He stood over Kelly Thomas and repeatedly said to put his hands on his knees. Thomas would put his hands back and fold his legs. Ramos stood over kelly thomas with a pair of latex gloves and he made a demonstration while he was standing over kelly thomas of putting on those gloves in a menacing manner. When he put the gloves on, he ordered Kelly Thomas, "put your hands on your f-ing knees." He leaned over Thomas in a menacing way. He made two fists. He put his fist in Thomas's face and said, "See my fists? They're getting ready to F you up." 

By making this declaration of violence against Kelly Thomas, Ramos instilled in that victim fear for his life. Fear of a police officer who wanted to F him up with his fists. Police officers have a right to force. But citizens have a right to self defense in the face of excessive force. Ramos took this contact from lawful use of detention to unlawful use of excessive force when he raised his fist. Ramos then grabbed Kelly Thomas by his arm. Thomas started taking steps away from Ramos. Then a baton came out. Kelly Thomas put his hands up, palms out, in a defensive positions. Palms open. Ramos yelled at Kelly Thomas, "Get on the ground." The other officer came running out from behind his car to assist with the arrest that officer Ramos was doing. The evidence does not indicate that Ramos' partner had any involvement in the exchange, or that he had any knowledge that Officer Ramos was engaged in unlawful police conduct. The physical altercation began as Officer Ramos swung his baton and chased Kelly Thomas. He punched Thomas in the ribs several times on the ground. He put his hand on Kelly Thomas' neck for leverage. He held him for other officers to use their force on Kelly Thomas. Wolf (Ramo's partner) kneed him and tackled him. Cicinelli arrived at the scene at 8:45 p.m. and kneed Kelly Thomas twice in the head. He used his taser four times on Thomas. 

Three of the times Cicinelli taser Kelly, he held the charge five seconds. The fourth time he tased him, he discharged darts, and shocked Thomas for approx 12 seconds. Cicinelli used the front of the taser to hit Kelly Thomas in the face eight times while Kelly Thomas was pinned to the ground with the weight of the other officers' bodies. There was no audible response from Kelly Thomas at this time. When Kelly Thomas didn't scream, it should have indicated to Cicinelli that Thomas was down. 

The evidence does not show that responding officers actually beating Thomas. 

Thomas' numerous please of "I'm sorry," "I can't breathe," "Help," "Dad," were all to no avail. Kelly Thomas not responding when the blows to his face occurred? No help. The growing pool of blood? No help. Ramos is charged with murder for creating this dangerous situation that placed KElly Thomas' life in jeopardy and for placing the responding officers in that situation. 

Ramos had to know he was creating a situation where Kelly Thomas would fear for his life. Ramos knew that the other officers would come to his aid and assist in applying force to Kelly Thomas. Ramos knew when he did that that Kelly Thomas was going to be hurt. Badly hurt.

The cause of death was mechanical suppression of the thorax. Kelly Thomas could not inhale. Over time his brain was deprived of oxygen. He went into a coma and died. That is the primary cause of death. 

It falls so fall short of professional police conduct. 

2:22 p.m. Reporter asks if more charges will be filed. Rackauckas says he doesn't think so. Ramos and Cicinelli will be arrained at 2 p.m. PST today. No trial team has been selected. Rackauckas will be lead prosecutor. 

KFI is no longer airing the presser, so I'll get y'all more as soon as I learn it. on the Kelly Thomas beating: