Kelly Thomas: Fullerton officers' actions 'reckless,' unacceptable, D.A. says
Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said the “menacing” actions of a Fullerton police officer in the fatal beating of a homeless man strayed so far from acceptable law enforcement practices that he was left with no choice but to charge the policeman with murder, and a second officer with involuntarily manslaughter.
Rackauckas, using blunt street language to describe the events he said led to Kelly Thomas’ death, said Fullerton Officer Manuel Ramos turned a potential routine confrontation with a homeless man into a crime scene.
“We simply cannot accept” the actions of the police officer, Rackauckas said. He said Ramos' actions were "reckless" and created the situation that led to Thomas' death.
The district attorney said Ramos’ action were in sharp contrast to the behavior of a vast majority of police officers in Orange County, whose professionalism Rackauckas praised.
Ramos, the D.A. said, taunted Thomas by putting on Latex gloves in a “menacing” way, holding his fists in front of the homeless man and saying “Now see my fists –- they are getting ready to F you up.”
Rackauckas said that Ramos created a “turning point” in the confrontation with Thomas with his threat and signaled to the homeless man that he was about to suffer “an impending beating.”
The prosecutor said it was easy to understand that Thomas was “filled with fear.”
As he was shocked with a stun gun and then a Taser, Thomas cried out “help,” “dad” and other pleas that should have signaled to Ramos that he should back off, Rackauckas said. But the district attorney said Thomas' pleas were “all to no avail.”
When Thomas grew silent as he was hit repeatedly with a stun gun, Rackauckas said that it should have been clear to police that the homeless man was seriously injured.
-- Steve Marble
Photo: Speaking during a news copnference Wednesday, Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas demonstrates how officials believe Fullerton Police Officer Manuel Ramos confronted Kelly Thomas. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images