O.C. D.A. Announces Charges Against Fullerton Officers In Kelly Case

Yes, that's right, we're banging on about Kelly Thomas again, and it's because the justice system did the right thing. Two police officers involved in the beating of Thomas, the 37-year-old schizophrenic homeless man who died five days after the incident, received charges today: Officer Manuel Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and Corporal Jay Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter.

National Public Radio's local station KPCC covered the charges today made by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. Some feel that the charges were not severe enough, and some, like Ramos' attorney, John Barnett, said that the charges were "shocking" and he's just being prosecuted for "doing his job". The lawyer spoke on KPCC and maintains that because his client only incited the others to the violence that ended up killing Thomas, but did not actually beat him, he cannot be charged with murder, first- or second-degree.

Hmmmm....well, we haven't read the Fullerton Police Officer Training Manual, but we're fairly sure that they are not taught to say phrases like: "My fists...are about to f*** you up" to citizens they are trying to detain. We also think it does not recommend using a Taser and then repeatedly beating a person in the face with the Taser itself. We're not sure how it took five officers to hold down one man who was, according to several witnesses, not resisting arrest. Forgive us if we're wrong, but the motto is "Protect and Serve", correct?

This is possibly the first time in Orange County history that prosecutors have charged an on-duty police officer with murder. Ramos, 37, is a 10-year veteran of the Fullerton PD and is facing a possible sentence of 15 years to life in prison. Cicinelli is a 12 year veteran of the Fullerton PD, and faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

It's interesting to note that on the O.C. Register's page about today's announcement, there's a poll for the public about their feelings about the charges, and the results are as follows:

  • 51% feel that the charges are appropriate
  • 40% feel that the charges should have been harsher
  • Only 4% thought they were too severe
  • And another 4% thought that no charges should have been filed

It seems that there's 8% of the Orange County population that would be happy living in a police state, but to each their own. Many legal experts maintain that it can be difficult for a prosecutor to convince a jury to convict a police officer, and that could be because a defense attorney will do their best to color the incident with the brush of "it was a split-second decision". According to reports by individuals who have seen the infamous but rarely seen partial video of the incident and the police officers' own audio recording, it will be difficult to convince a jury that what happened was a decision made in the heat of the moment or in a blink of an eye.

What do you think? Which of the four poll questions above do you agree with? Do you feel that the police are above the law, or should be held accountable for their actions? Please leave a comment below.

Have you been the victim of police harassment or violence? Have you been wrongfully arrested because you tried to record an officer dealing with a citizen in a way you felt was wrong? Then call the Law Offices of Glew & Kim immediately on 866-416-2161, or use our online form for a Free Case Analysis. We believe in equal access to justice for all, and we're here to defend your civil rights.

- See more at: http://glewkimlaw.com/blog/2011/09/21/da-announces-charges-against-fullerton-officers-in-kelly-case/#sthash.OWY6QreZ.dpuf