Jury selection underway for fullerton police officers charged with murder of Kelly Thomas
Jury selection began Monday morning before a packed Orange County courthouse in the murder and manslaughter trials of two former Fullerton police officers accused of beating a homeless man to death in 2011.
Manuel Anthony Ramos, 39, is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter and ex-Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, 41, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive force in connection with the beating death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man reported to have schizophrenia.
However, TV and livestream coverage of the emotionally charged case will be limited. Orange County Superior Court Judge William Froeberg ruled during a pretrial hearing October 18 that cameras will only be allowed in the courtroom during opening statements, closing arguments, the verdict and sentencing portions of the trial.
Surveillance footage from a nearby building shows Officer Ramos confronting the shirtless and bearded Thomas, searching his backpack and sitting him down, before saying “Now see my fists? They are getting ready to F you up.”
What would have otherwise been a routine arrest then turned into a 10-minute altercation involving six officers that left Thomas beaten, shocked several times with a Taser, and laying in a pool of his own blood. Thomas was taken by ambulance to St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton and then transferred to UCI Medical Center in orange where he passed away 5-days later after being taken off life support.
Both officers were dismissed from the Fullerton Police Department after Thomas’ death.
Ramos faces a potential sentence of 15 years to life if convicted of second-degree murder and four years if convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Cicinelli faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison if found guilty.
Trial is scheduled to begin December 2 with opening statements.
Ryan Kerns, Esq., Wild About Trial
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