Kelly Thomas begged for his life from 'menacing' officer, D.A. says
Scared and bleeding, Kelly Thomas begged for his life to no avail as Fullerton police officers beat him and Tasered him in a violent confrontation that led to his death, Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said at a news conference Wednesday.
Rackauckas gave a painfully detailed narrative of the July 5 events leading up to Thomas' death -– details that he said resulted in second-degree murder and manslaughter charges being filed against two police officers.
Rackauckas said Officer Manuel Ramos put latex gloves on his hands and brandished a fist at Thomas. Then, Rackauckas said, the officer, in a "menacing" manner, threatened Thomas: "These fists are ready to F you up."
Ramos knew Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man who frequented downtown Fullerton, and Rackauckas said the officer should have realized that he was mentally ill and having difficulty following commands.
"Kelly Thomas appeared to be acting in self-defense, in pain, in a state of panic. His numerous pleas of 'I'm sorry,' 'I can't breathe,' 'help,' 'Dad,' all to no avail," Rackauckas said. "Screams, loud screams, didn't help."
Six officers were placed on leave after the beating, but Rackauckas said he filed charges only against Ramos and Officer Jay Cicinelli, who is accused of excessive use of force and involuntary manslaughter. The other four officers were not charged and were unaware of the statements and threats made by Ramos, the district attorney said.
Cicinelli allegedly Tased Thomas four times, kneed him in the head twice and hit him eight times with the Taser, Rackauckas said.
"Kelly Thomas was not responding when blows to his face occurred," Rackauckas said, adding, "That is not protecting and serving."
Rackauckas said the cause of Thomas' death was "medical compression of the thorax," basically chest compression that left him unable to breathe. His other injuries were contributing factors, according to the coroner's report.
The attorney representing the officers could not be immediately reached for comment.
-- Abby Sewell and Richard Winton
Photo: Kelly Thomas' stepmother, Dana Pape, reacts to charges in his death. Nicole Santa Cruz / L.A. Times