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Kelly Thomas: Officers' audio recordings helped lead to charges

September 21, 2011 |  1:25 pm

The booking photos of Fullerton police officers Manuel Ramos, left, and Jay Cicinelli.

A large team of investigators from the Orange County district attorney's office spent 11 weeks combing through a mountain of evidence in the Kelly Thomas death case before deciding to file second-degree murder and manslaughter charges against two Fullerton police officers, Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said.

Charges against police in homeless man’s death "Our office took this responsibility faithfully and seriously," Rackauckas said. "We executed the task thoroughly and efficiently."

Document: Charges against police

In all, six full-time investigators and one supervising investigator were assigned to the case. Twelve additional investigators trained in custodial death investigations also assisted, he said.

A key piece of evidence included a 30-minute surveillance video taken from a pole camera at the Fullerton Transportation Center about 150 feet northwest of where the incident occurred. They also reviewed two cellphone videos taken by witnesses and six videos from Orange County Transportation Authority buses.

Photos: Kelly Thomas death

The officers were all carrying digital audio recording devices. Those devices captured some of the comments made by Officer Manuel Ramos, who was charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.

During one troubling exchange, Ramos leans over Thomas in a "menacing" manner, and lifts up his hands.

"Now, see my fists?" Ramos said. "They are getting ready to ... you up."

In all, authorities conducted 151 witness interviews, including Fullerton police officers, responding paramedics and other civilians.

Medical records and downloaded information from tasers were also used in the investigation. A complete overview of the investigation can be read here.


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-- Richard Winton and Kimi Yoshino

Photo: The booking photos of Fullerton police officers Manuel Ramos, left, and Jay Cicinelli. Credit: Orange County District Attorney's Office / Reuters