On January 14, 2014, former Fullerton Police Department officers, Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli were acquitted of charges in the July 2011 fatal beating of Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old schizophrenic drifter. Although the not guilty verdict was a shock to supporters of the Thomas family what may have stung even more were Cicinelli's statements to the Orange County Register–saying he would seek his job back with the Fullerton Police Department.
"I was wrongfully terminated," said Cicinelli to the paper, Jan. 14. "How do you argue with a jury of 12 who all agree on the same thing?" Cicinelli was charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive force.
Residents and supporters showed up at Fullerton's city council meeting January 21 to let let city council members know how they felt about Cicinelli's rehiring.
"I really, really urge the five of you to definitely not let Cicinelli back here. He's just not wanted here, his damage has been done," said one resident to the city council.
Although Police Chief Dan Hughes has said publicly multiple times that he will fight to to keep Cicinelli from regaining employment with the department, the decision is not left up to him. First, Cicinelli will have to make his case to an arbitrator who would make a recommendation to the city. City council members would then vote on whether to rehire him. If the arbitration process falls apart, Cicinelli said he may take legal action.
Cicinelli has a strong case for wrongful termination. His training officer, Cpl. Stephen Rubio, testified during the trial that Cicinelli's actions on July 5, 2011, at the municipal bus depot with Thomas abided by the Fullerton Police Department's policy.
Chief Hughes pointed out reforms he made to the department that were recommended by Michael Gennaco of the Los Angeles Office of Independent Review. Hughes admitted he did not implement each one of the 59 recommendations.
"Any police officer who betrays the oath they've made to this department and betrays the oath that they've made to this badge and what this badge represents, I will do everything in my lawful authority to ensure that they never have the privilege of wearing this badge again," said Chief Hughes to the city council.
Produced by Paul Detrick.
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