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Kelly Thomas beating: Charges possible against third officer

May 9, 2012 |  5:21 pm

More officers could face charges in Kelly Thomas beating

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said he hasn't ruled out filing charges against additional officers involved in the fatal beating of Kelly Thomas.

Kelly Thomas' family and supporters have called for the arrest of Officer Joseph Wolfe, one of six police officers involved in the fatal altercation. In a video of the beating, Wolfe is seen striking Thomas. Wolfe and Officer Manuel Ramos, who is facing charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, were the officers on the scene.

Rackauckas did not name any additional officers, but when asked specifically about Wolfe, he said: "We are not done with this case.... We are still considering all the evidence."

VIDEO: Kelly Thomas beating

Outside the courtroom, Christina Walker, 41, of Fullerton wore a baby blue shirt that said, "Justice 4 Kelly Thomas" and vowed to keep the pressure on -- even after a judge on Wednesday ordered Ramos and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli to stand trial in connection with Thomas' death.

"There is no way I can feel happy about this," Walker said. "It's just one teeny tiny slice of victory on the way to justice."

After Kelly Thomas' death, she protested for four weeks alongside the Thomas family in seeking charges against the officers involved.

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

Walker said she believes prosecutors should now charge Wolfe.

"I don't care if I have to protest for the next year," she said.

Walker, who sat with the Thomas family during the three-day preliminary hearing, said she was an acquaintance of Kelly Thomas' as a child, but was drawn to the case after his death because her brother is also a homeless schizophrenic.

Outside the courtroom, supporters hugged each other.

John Oetken, 50, was among the supporters. The Tustin resident attended the hearing along with eight other members of Oath Keepers, an organization of active, retired officers.

"Justice should be served," he said.

Oetken is a citizen member, but he said police officers who are members of his organization are "depressed about what happened, the beating and charges, and the disgrace that comes from an incident like this."

"it drags everybody down," Oetken said. "It's a dishonor that is brought upon them."


Cop believes he is innocent in Kelly Thomas death, lawyer says

Gang member convicted in killing of football star Jamiel Shaw Jr.

Republican San Diego mayor applauds Obama's support of gay marriage

-- Angel Jennings and Richard Winton at Orange County Superior Court

Photo: Ron Thomas talks to the media during a noon break from a hearing on Wednesday. Thomas and supporters want additional police officers charged. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times


Southern California -- this just in

In Baldwin Hills, Obama's stance on gay marriage gets mixed reviews

President Obama

Ahmad Butler, a bartender from Leimart Park, said Wednesday that President Obama's support for gay marriage would not alter his support for Obama.

Butler was among a half-dozen African American Angelenos who shared their thoughts about Obama's announcement outside the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

“I’m in favor of it,” said Butler, 35. “I say good for him. He should have done it a while ago.”

Elvis Prescott, 53, had a sharply different view. Prescott, who works with the homeless in a Compton ministry, said gay marriage is “an abomination to God.”

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Reader photos: Southern California Moments, Day 130


Taking a dip: Jeanie Choe photographed this group of swimmers off Santa Monica Beach on April 27. "I was hanging out on Santa Monica Pier when I heard uncontrollable laughter coming from down under," she said. "It turned out to be children playing in the water waiting for waves, laughing really loudly every time they got hit by one."


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Southern California Moments 2012 editors' picks

-- Jason La

Every day, we're featuring photos of Southern California submitted by readers. Share your photos on our Flickr page or reader submission gallery. Follow us on Twitter or visit our Facebook page for more on this photo series.

Gang member convicted in killing of football star Jamiel Shaw Jr.


A gang member has been convicted in the 2008 shooting death of a high school football star who was mistaken for a rival gang member because of a red Spider-Man backpack.

Pedro Espinoza, 23, was charged with first-degree murder  in the slaying of 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw Jr., who was shot on the street three doors from his Arlington Heights home. Espinoza allegedly asked Shaw for his gang affiliation -- "Where are you from?" -- then shot him before he could respond, in what a prosecutor said was an "execution"-manner.

Jurors found true additional allegations that Espinoza acted in association with a criminal gang -- the 18th Street gang -- and that he used a firearm. He was not charged with a hate crime.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty; jurors will decide at the end of a separate phase of the trial whether he should receive capital punishment.

Espinoza, who had a shaved head at the time of the shooting, sat in the trial with his hair slicked back and wearing dark-rimmed glasses and a suit. Prosecutors noted that he had tattooed on the side of his neck the letters "BK" -- which they contended stood for "Blood Killer."

When he spotted the teenager walking home, Espinoza believed Shaw to be a Bloods gang member because he was black and carrying the red bag, prosecutors argued at trial. Driving away from the scene, he boasted "I'm a killer," they said.

An attorney for Espinoza called the prosecution's case "weak," citing inconsistent descriptions between witnesses about what the shooter wore, and an eyewitness' failure to identify his client.


A youth 'on track' until fatal gunfire

D.A. says skin color, backpack led to Jamiel Shaw's slaying

Slain LA athlete mistaken for a gang member, prosecutor says

-- Victoria Kim at Los Angeles County Superior Court

Cop believes he is innocent in Kelly Thomas death, lawyer says

Kelly Thomas decision

An attorney for one of the Fullerton police officers charged in the beating death of Kelly Thomas said that despite the judge's decision to move forward with a trial, his client "believes he is innocent."

Attorney John Barnett made the statement on behalf of Officer Manuel Ramos, 38, who is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in connection with Thomas' death.

Of the two officers charged, Ramos faces the more serious allegations. 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.

VIDEO: Kelly Thomas beating

Barnett insisted that despite today's decision, Ramos won't face a murder trial -- though he declined to elaborate.

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas has said he will fight any challenges to have the case dismissed.

"This case is going to trial," Rackauckas said.

The prosecutor has accused Ramos of turning "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.

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L.A. Now Live: Discussing the Kelly Thomas decision

<a href="http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=dd8b8e2f3a" >L.A. Now Live: Discuss the Kelly Thomas decision</a>

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.

VIDEO: Kelly Thomas beating

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.

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