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Bloody photo of Kelly Thomas elicits gasps as hearing begins

May 7, 2012 | 11:25 am


A preliminary hearing for the Fullerton police officers accused in the fatal beating of Kelly Thomas got off a dramatic start as prosecutors showed a bloody image of Thomas' face that elicited gasps from the audience.

The image was taken by Fullerton police forensic specialist Dawn Scruggs. She took it just hours after the beating, while Thomas was at UC Irvine Medical Center.

Ron Thomas, Kelly Thomas' father, visibly winced as the image displayed on a massive monitor. "It is the right side of Mr. Thomas' face," Scruggs testified.

PHOTOS: Kelly Thomas dies after run-in with Fullerton police

Prosecutors also showed a Taser allegedly used by Cpl. Jay Cicinelli in the beating of Thomas on a video screen visibly covered in blood.

Scruggs, a nine-year specialist for the Fullerton Police Department, confirmed that the Taser was the one used on Thomas. Scruggs also described a pool of blood where Thomas fell.

Scruggs described the officers' minor cuts but on cross examination acknowledged that Officer Manuel Ramos told her he had been in the fight of his life. "He was tired, exhausted and in pain," Scruggs said.

She said officers Cicinelli and Scott Wolfe told her Thomas "would not stop fighting."

A second witness, Fullerton Fire Capt. Ron Stancyk, said when he arrived he saw that the bloody Thomas was barely breathing. His skin was ashen and when they began to move him he stopped breathing.

Stancyk said en route to the hospital they began pumping air into his lungs with an air bag, but Thomas' heart stopped..

"Once his heart stops we began CPR" Stancyk said.

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas called the officers' actions "gratuitous and unnecessary" and noted that the investigation showed that Thomas offered no response to those blows, indicating he was "down and seriously injured."

Both Ramos and Cicinelli have pleaded not guilty and are free on bail while on leave from the Fullerton Police Department. Ramos' attorney, John D. Barnett, said the officer was doing his job under difficult conditions with a noncompliant suspect with a history of violence.

Barnett said Thomas' criminal record, which included a 1995 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon when he hit his grandfather with a fire poker, reveals he had a violent side.

Cicinelli's attorney, Michael Schwartz, also disputed points in the district attorney's account, including the number of times his client allegedly hit Thomas with the front end of his Taser and the threatening taunt Ramos allegedly used when he confronted Thomas.

Schwartz said his client, a former LAPD officer, struck Thomas only when the homeless man grabbed the hand holding the Taser at least twice.


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— Richard Winton in Santa Ana