Police Abuse

Kelly Thomas-Beating Cop Wants His Job Back, Police Chief Doesn't Want Him

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Indiana Stan / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

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:

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  1. The verdict only means that the prosecutor didn’t prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, according to the jury. The jury that was sitting in a courtroom with a pair of cops who had beaten a helpless man to death, and a gallery full of other cops cheering the murderers on.

    -jcr

  2. 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.”

    Good for him. As terrible as the court decision was, at least the police chief seems to have his head on straight and the DA was willing to prosecute.

    That’s a step in the right direction.

    1. Dan Hughes was the captain in charge of Ramos and Cicinelli at the time of the murder, er, incident, and was responsible for its whitewash. The police chief at the time, having more than a room temperature IQ, saw the writing on the wall and resigned rather than be required to hold his thugs accountable. Hughes took his place. NOT a good thing. Given that 3 (2?) city council members were easily replaced for backing the pigs on this issue, Hughes is merely playing for time.

      The fact that there were 3 (2?) council members replaced in an election leads me to believe that there was some sort of malfeasance in the jury selection process. See previous posts on the DA.

  3. 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.

    So the guy was double-dipping also? Nice.

    1. Other people call such conflicts fraud. Last I looked there were more than a few people in prison for the crime of working while collecting full disability.

      1. Those people weren’t heroes, John.

    2. So another indicator that this guy has no sense of shame, doesn’t care about fraud, and doesn’t seem to care how he comes off to the peons. Yeah, that’s not an indicator of a sociopath or anything.

  4. 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.”

    The fact that a person can do this, openly, in public, and in the news, and get away with it, speaks volumes about the system.

  5. his “whole life has been stopped”

    Stop the world; I want to get off.

  6. his “whole life has been stopped”

    If only.

    Goddammit I’m still angry.

  7. Imagine a private security guard doing this and somehow getting off and the company rehiring him. It boggles the mind to think of the kind of liability potential that would create. But the city will rehire this asshole and he will hurt someone else. You watch.

    1. He thinks he’s entitled to his job, is all.

  8. He doesn’t appear to be a ginger, and yet he clearly has no soul.

    1. Nor does he appear to be Japanese. Perhaps he’s the descendant of a ginger or part Japanese?

      1. Japan has no Seoul.

  9. He has the disposition, he meets the physical requirements, he’s proved adept at dealing with citizens… why not give him his job back?

    1. He is certainly adept at dispatching with citizens.

  10. I want to be offended at the alt-text, but I’m too busy laughing.

    1. Alt-text of the day award, to be sure.

    2. The intern is ready to be released into the wild. Send in STEVE SMITH for the final ceremony.

    3. +1. Gfg, Zenon. Gfg

  11. Ron Thomas should shoot Cicinelli’s other eye out, and then beat the ever-living shit out of Ramos.

    1. At some point that is what people are going to start doing. If you deprive enough people of justice for long enough, they will eventually seek justice on their own. That is what we are headed for in this country. Creating a Praetorian Guard that is totally unaccountable for its actions is not going to end well.

  12. The guy was shot five times three weeks out of cop school.

    On December 14, 1996, less than three weeks after LAPD Officer Jay Cicinelli graduated from the Police Academy, he stopped a car in South-Central Los Angeles and was shot in the face. While lying on the ground, the perpetrator pumped five more bullets into Cicinelli until he ran out of bullets. Miraculously, Cicinelli survived, although he lost an eye, his face was disfigured, and he sustained damage to his arms, legs and stomach. The perpetrator was captured, tried and sentenced to life in prison, along with an additional 28-year term for other crimes.

    Obviously a quite traumatic experience. I wonder how much this contributed to his mentality of thinking it’s okay to beat a helpless homeless man to death?

    1. As soon as I read that it got me thinking along the same lines. Some sort of violent PTSD reaction? I really don’t know anything about that type of psychology.

      1. I think so. That experience would fuck you up pretty good. He had no business being a cop after that. And in fairness the LAPD gave his dumb ass disability. What the hell was he doing trying to be a cop again and why the hell did the city hire someone with that in their past in the first place?

        1. What the hell was he doing trying to be a cop again

          Because what other profession would a violent sociopath be suited for?

        2. why the hell did the city hire someone with that in their past in the first place?

          Won’t we find out when the city gets sued in whatever wrongful death lawsuit has got to be coming?

        3. “why the hell did the city hire someone with that in their past in the first place?”

          He’s a hero!

      2. I don’t know anything about PTSD, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt him developing an extreme us vs the civilians attitude that most cops develop anyway.

    2. While lying on the ground, the perpetrator pumped five more bullets into Cicinelli until he ran out of bullets.

      The guy’s poor shooting angle may have saved Cicinelli’s life.

      1. 9mm prolly

        1. Dangling participle, prolly. I’m not going to dumb it down for some bonehead mass audience.

      2. It’s really just proof that nobody should be allowed more than 6 rounds in a mag.

        /prog

        1. Isn’t this proof that more than 6 rounds may have saved Kelly Thomas’s life?

    3. I think we solved the mystery of his missing soul. He obviously traded it to Satan.

      1. For what, though?

    4. Obviously a quite traumatic experience. I wonder how much this contributed to his mentality of thinking it’s okay to beat a helpless homeless man to death?

      I was thinking this same thing. What happened to that guy is what every cop dreads. Traffic stops are scary as hell because you’re totally exposed and the situation is often very tense. I would totally understand that event marking Cicinelli for the rest of his life.

      Then again, Malala Yousafzai gets shot in the head by the Taliban for learning to read and goes on to be a vocal advocate for allowing women and girls access to education in countries that would prevent it, earning herself the “Badass of the Century” award, at least in my book.

      This guy gets shot repeatedly during a routine traffic stop and then goes on to beat homeless people to death. I’m making a big assumption here but I’m going to guess that the traffic stop in South Central did not involve a fuzzy-headed white guy panhandling, so forgive me if I don’t buy the PTSD angle.

      Before you (by which I mean “one”, not you in particular) feel any sympathy for Cicinelli, just remember that sometimes horrible bastards get cancer, too. Bad things do happen to bad people as well. Good people take those traumatic events and do good things afterwards; bad people look at those events and believe the world owes them some compensation.

  13. “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.

    A normal person would at least feel some remorse for having beaten a mentally ill man, who was crying for his father to save him, to death.

    But not our brave public heroes, the only ones worthy to carry semi-automatic killy-mcdeath weapons. Peasants get uppity, then they get put down.

  14. On a bizarre level I agree with the jury. involuntary manslaughter is not the correct charge. It really should have been murder.

  15. How do you argue with a jury of 12 who all agree on the same thing?

    Here’s how, simpleton: The jury agreed that there was reasonable doubt, so you were acquitted. The jury didn’t answer whether there was sufficient evidence to decide whether it would be unwise to have you be a cop, so the acquittal is irrelevant to that. Clear enough?

  16. Comments on this story at the OCRegister are running about 99% against Cicinelli…but there are always a few who defend the cops.

    Also this from his lawyer:

    “Michael Schwartz, Cicinelli’s attorney for the criminal trial, is also representing him in his fight to become a Fullerton police officer again.

    “His identity of being a human being is totally wrapped up in being a police officer,” Schwartz said.

    Counselor Schwartz, you’ve diagnosed the problem.

    1. “His identity of being a human being is totally wrapped up in being a police officer,” Schwartz said.

      SO is the attorney saying “hire my client before he kills again”?

      1. hire my client before he kills again

        No thanks. I’d rather he not be in our employ the next time.

      2. “hire my client SO he can kill again!”

    2. Being a cop isn’t just a job. It’s a lifestyle. Once a person is accustomed to getting their way just by flashing a badge, and then using violence without consequence when flashing a badge doesn’t work, they have a difficult time functioning in civil society as anything but an agent of the state.

      1. We saw this in the recent movie theater shooting, where the retired cop shot a guy for texting his kid in the theater. Nothing is more dangerous than injured pride.

      2. Quoting myself from the movie theater shooting:

        Many years ago, an item shipped to me by common carrier was damaged in transit. A large heavy security storm door with glass panels shipped in a cardboard box. Clearly not crated and protected for shipment. When I was talking (arguing) with the seller about his responsibility, he suddenly, and relevant to nothing, heatedly told me, “I was in law enforcement for 23 years ! “.

        Now having read the stories here about police abuse, I understand. He was used to getting his way. Having to actually negotiate with me must have been driving him nuts, when he had spend so many years threatening violence.

        So yeah, I suspect a retired cop probably would think it’s ok to kill someone who threw pop corn at him. What do they call that, a depraved indifference to the lives of others.

        1. I had a former client use this on me too. It was like the cop thing gave him special powers, even though he was no longer a cop. And he thought he could “see through” when he thought people were lying to him. As if. It was more like “you must be lying to me if I don’t like what you’re telling me, and I’m a former cop, so I would know.”

    3. “His identity of being a human being is totally wrapped up in being a police officer,” Schwartz said.

      Maybe they should rehire him and then restrict him to strictly desk duty. Think about it, all his buddies are out there bustin’ heads, beatin’ down schizos, shooting dogs, and there he is stuck behind a desk. If we’re lucky maybe the resulting depression would drive him to suicide.

      1. So…like what they do to Vic at the end of The Shield?

      2. Desk work would still involve answering the phone or talking to the public when they walk through the door. People calling for help shouldn’t be subjected to his simmering frustration and inevitable outbursts. He’s not fit for work behind a desk, or even a broom, in any police department.

        1. A broom. That gives me an idea. Does the city own a zoo?

    4. “His identity of being a human being is totally wrapped up in being a police officer”

      Fucking ADA, now they have to hire people for all kinds of identity issues.

  17. Is there a civil suit pending?

  18. Cicinelli added a surprisingly tone-deaf, woe-is-me claim that his “whole life has been stopped”

    If only.

    The officer previously worked for the Los Angeles Police Department, during which time he was shot and lost an eye.

    To paraphrase the Butthole Surfers song Pepper: “Paulie Cicinelli caught a bullet, but it only hit his leg eye. Well, it should have been a better shot, and got him in the head.

    He was deemed unable to work in the field he has received retirement compensation from the city since 1996.

    So not only is he a violent thug, he’s also a mooch.

    1. Not a single mention of the guy he killed. Not even a “I am really sorry this tragedy had to happen” throw away line. It is all about him and his problems. What a fucking sociopath.

    2. So not only is he a violent thug, he’s also a mooch.

      And a liar engaging in criminal fraud.

  19. That motherfucker’s head should be on a pike.

  20. his “whole life has been stopped” because of his involvement in the brutal lethal treatment of the schizophrenic and homeless Thomas.

    Having your life figuratively stopped for literally stopping another life.

  21. What on earth were those jurors told in that courtroom which led them to believe those cops were not subject to the laws the rest of us are? Because if any of us were filmed beating somebody to death with a baseball bat, viciously and scientifically, I’m pretty sure he would be locked away for the the rest of his life.

    1. I saw tiny bits of the trial, and there was a lot of focus on the training officer testifying that what they were seeing in the video of Thomas being murdered was “proper police procedure”.

    2. What on earth were those jurors told in that courtroom which led them to believe those cops were not subject to the laws the rest of us are?

      “Officer Cicinelli and Ramos’ buddies on the force have a list of your names and addresses. Those are nice families you’ve all got, be a shame if something happened to them.”

      1. I went digging for any reputable claims of jury intimidation after the verdict was issued. I didn’t find anything of substance, but some goober commenter at Daily Kos argued that we should be allowed to intimidate jurors?so they’d deliver verdicts we like. As support he referred back to the Zimmerman trial and what a travesty it was that his jurors didn’t reach the right verdict.

    3. Think of it this way:

      Scene: Nuremberg trials, Nazi Warcrimes.

      German training officer declares goings-on at Auschwitz as “proper procedure”. Everyone walks away happy.

      1. This! Following superior orders was not enough to escape punishment (although it might have lessened it), then, nor should following procedure be, now.

  22. 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.”

    Wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants if this case turned into a referendum on the Great Disability Scam.

  23. Obviously a quite traumatic experience. I wonder how much this contributed to his mentality of thinking it’s okay to beat a helpless homeless man to death?

    So he dedicated his life to acting out his revenge porn fantasies, and the Fullerton PD decided they should provide him with the means.

    “That guy is totally fucking crazy.”

    “Okay, we’ll promote him to corporal.”

  24. I swear to god if I were a police chief and were forced by the union to keep these people, I’d put the on the fuck-stickiest of the fuckstick desk jobs… put them in a little Cushman cart, no firearms, parking tickets, pawn shop desk– I’d make there working life a living hell.

    1. Hopefully if I were police chief, I’d also learn to type.

    2. Fuck that, I’d just fire the whole goddamn union.

  25. “I was wrongfully terminated. How do you argue with a jury of 12 who all agree on the same thing?”

    Ahahahaha, CONSENSUS!

    Fucking idiot.

  26. What is amazing is how addicted to t he power of being a cop these assholes get. The guy has a full disability. He won’t be out on the street. If I had a job that resulted in my being shot six times and then later having to go through the stress and trauma of being tried for manslaughter, I think I would want to find a different line of work. But that is just me.

    1. Thing is, when you’re a cop you can do anything you want.

      What’s someone going to do, call the cops?

      1. “You’re not cop, you’re little people.” Poor little Cicinelli just wants to play with the big boys again.

    2. I think I would want to find a different line of work. But that is just me.

      In the private sector. Riiiight. Haven’t you ever noticed when a public sector official gets summarily kicked into the private sector, how hard he tries to get back to the public sector?

  27. Finally, a case of a genuine disability claim, and this guy ruins it.

    1. If he can do his job after the claim, then it wasn’t a genuine disability claim.

      1. Well being half blind would be a reasonable disability. He shouldn’t have been allowed a gun.

  28. Guilty till proven guilty LOL!

    Libertarians answer your questions!

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