Kelly Thomas' father: 'Another victory for my son'
After an Orange County Superior Court judge ordered two Fullerton Police officers to stand trial in the beating death of a homeless man, Kelly Thomas' father looked toward the long fight ahead.
As Judge Walter Schwarm entered the courtroom, Ron Thomas leaned forward in his chair and tears welled up in his eyes when the judge announced his decision.
"This is another victory for my son," Ron Thomas said, "but this is another battle now in this war we have been fighting."
"I won’t say I am happy," he said outside the courtroom. The war won't be over until the officers are convicted, he said.
The case has been particularly emotional for Ron Thomas, who has been forced to watch the video
of his son's beating and listen to the heartbreaking pleas. At one point, Kelly Thomas cries out, "Dad, they are killing me!"
In an earlier interview, Ron Thomas said the hardest part of the video and audio "is the sounds of my son calling out."
Officer Manuel Ramos, 38, faces charges with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, 40, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and using excessive force. Ramos faces 15 years to life in prison. Cicinelli faces a four-year sentence.
Although their defense attorneys suggested emergency medical workers -- not the police officers -- caused Thomas' death by failing to provide prompt care, Schwarm determined after a three-day preliminary hearing that there is enough probable cause for the case to go to trial.
Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas presented the case himself, playing a dramatic, never-before-seen video that showed a shirtless Thomas being pummeled and held down by Fullerton police officers.
Rackaukas said Ramos "turned a routine encounter into a brutal beating death" while Cicinelli "assisted in the killing of Kelly Thomas" by "smashing his face" with the butt of a Taser stun gun and applying his own weight on Thomas' torso.
A coroner's pathologist said Thomas died of chest compression and blood from his facial wounds.
"Mr. Ramos is guilty of murder," Ron Thomas said, adding, "Mr. Rackaukas did an outstanding job."
-- Richard Winton and Angel Jennings at Orange County Superior Court