Grand jury considers indicting third cop in Kelly Thomas beating
An Orange County grand jury will be impaneled Wednesday to decide whether to indict a third former Fullerton police officer in the beating death of homeless man Kelly Thomas, whose death has sparked street protests and political turmoil.
Former Officer Joe Wolfe's criminal attorney, Vicki Podberesky, said she has been informed that a grand jury will be seated Wednesday and "Mr. Wolfe is the subject of the grand jury."
Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas previously said that he had not ruled out filing charges against additional officers in the case. It was unclear what charge the district attorney would seek if the officer was indicted.
Another former officer, Manuel Ramos, 38, has been ordered to stand trial on second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges, and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, 40, will be tried on charges of involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Thomas' death came five days after his violent encounter with six officers at a Fullerton bus depot in July of last year. Since then, the city's police chief has left, and a majority of the council members have been recalled.
A grainy black-and-white video from a bus depot security camera captured the beating.
Thomas suffered brain injuries, a shattered nose, a smashed cheekbone, broken ribs and internal bleeding, according to authorities. But he died from a crushed windpipe.Ron Thomas, Kelly Thomas' father who has pushed prosecutors to charge Wolfe, said he was told that Wolfe was fired by the department and he wants him "tried and convicted of murder."
The news of the grand jury comes as Fullerton police are slated Tuesday evening to officially acknowledge that Kelly Thomas did nothing criminally wrong on the night he was beaten.
-- Richard Winton
Photo: Frame grab from video recording shows an officer wielding what appears to be a baton. Credit: KTLA.