UCI Trauma Surgeon Agrees With Coroner & DA: Fullerton Cops Beat Kelly Thomas To Death

kellythomastaser.jpg
Media pool photograph by The Orange County Register
Courtroom image of the blood-stained Taser gun Fullerton police officers used to "smash" Kelly Thomas' face "to hell"
During Tuesday's testimony in the Kelly Thomas murder trial, a veteran UCI trauma surgeon told jurors that police broke numerous bones in the unarmed, homeless man's face and ribs, caused massive bleeding, ignored his cries for help and deprived him of critical oxygen for so long that he ultimately fell unconscious and brain dead.

"My opinion is that during the altercation the patient became hypoxic," said Dr. Michael Lekawa, whose expert opinion matches one held by the coroner as well as District Attorney Tony Rackauckas following the autopsy. "There was an inadequate supply of oxygen to [Thomas'] brain."

That medical observation is, of course, apparent to anyone who objectively reviews the surveillance footage and audio recordings of the unnecessary police attack on the night of July 5, 2011 at the Fullerton Transportation Center.

But John Barnett and Michael Schwartz, criminal defense lawyers for two of the cops charged in the killing, continue to live in a self-induced, self-serving fantasy where there is, they insist, zero chance that a brutal, seven-minute beating by a group of five cops caused the untimely death.

Instead, the defense team wants jurors, reporters and the public to ignore overwhelming prosecution evidence and buy one or two alternative theories concocted for the officers to avoid responsibility.

First, the defense has implied paramedics may have accidentally killed Thomas during life saving measures in the ambulance as they hauled the victim's battered, blood-covered and unconscious body away from the scene.

Or, alternatively, they say Thomas killed himself by "overexerting" his 37-year-old heart when, get a load of this whopper, he assaulted the officers.

It's common knowledge that Manuel Ramos and Joseph Wolfe, the initial two cops on the scene, watched the surveillance recordings after the beating but before they wrote their incident reports.

Yet, even with that cheating, they still couldn't manage to tell a coherent, matching tale that would successfully cast Thomas as the aggressor deserving of the horrific beating.

Here's Wolfe's official account of what happened after Ramos threatened to "fuck up" the schizophrenic Thomas with his fists: "I swung my baton at Thomas' left leg, striking him on his left leg. My baton strike had no affect on Thomas and he began backing away for us. I was in fear he was going to run away from us so I ran around to the back of my patrol vehicle, approximately 10-15 feet from where we initially contacted him. When I met him with him at the rear of my patrol vehicle he swung his fist violently at me, striking me once on my forehead. I grabbed Thomas around his midsection, lifted him up and we fell to the ground."

Here's Ramos' divergent story after the two cops struck Thomas with their batons: "[Thomas] turned and ran southbound away from me. I pursued Thomas. After running approximately 20 feet, Thomas turned and faced me. He again took a fighting stance and attempted to strike (punch) me with his left fist. I was able to avoid the strike and prepared to strike him a second time with my baton. At this point, I saw Officer Wolfe attempt to tackle Thomas."

In Wolfe's version, Thomas didn't take a swing at Ramos; the homeless man supposedly managed to hit him in the face--even though the officer held a baton.

In Ramos' version, Thomas didn't punch Wolfe; Thomas allegedly punched at him.

The surveillance video doesn't support either cop's claim because the action occurred off screen, a fact that officers knew as they devised their accounts.

The video proves that only 12 seconds lapsed between the time the officers ran out of view of the camera and they pummeled Thomas so violently that he began pleading for the beating to stop, calling for help from his dad and complaining he couldn't breathe.

mannyramospunch.jpg
Pool photograph by The Orange County Register
Ramos: I feared for my safety from a fleeing, unarmed man
After beating Thomas unconscious with a flurry of baton strikes, stomps, punches, kicks and Tasing, officers stood over the body for nearly four minutes without rendering any first aid and Corporal Jay Cicinelli bragged that he "smashed [Thomas'] face to hell" with the butt of his Taser gun.

Was that delay in treatment possibly critical?

In the Glascow Coma Scale, a seven is wide awake and alert. A three score means no brain activity.

According to Dr. Lekawa, Thomas' eyes were looking in different directions and he was brain dead from the time he arrived at the hospital.

The fatal injuries were a result of "how long he'd been without an adequate oxygen supply," he testified.

(Officers Ramos and Cicinelli are in trial in the present case; Wolfe is scheduled to face a jury at a later date.)

Though the trial is expected to last into January, Rackauckas' prosecution team (the DA, Jim Tanizaki and Keith Bogardus) expects to rest today inside Orange County's central courthouse in Santa Ana.

See also: The Complete Kelly Thomas Killing Archives

Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

Email: rscottmoxley@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @RScottMoxley.

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56 comments
g.judd1111
g.judd1111

I can't stand looking at Ramos.  He's disgusting.

jamiepizza99
jamiepizza99

better hope that jury isn't full of Christians, because with that jew lawyer with the yamaka on, Christians tend to believe anything a jew says...  Christians are a dirty jews best friend.

jamiepizza99
jamiepizza99

look at the typical jew lawyer sitting on the defense table..lol!!  whenever I see a proud jew lawyer, I know there's gonna be some spinning, lying and the most silliest TALL tales..  but funny part is, most Americans buy into their BS!

fc2479
fc2479

NOT GUILTY!!!!!!!!

Alice Augusta
Alice Augusta

Bubba told them, "I can't breathe." They responded, "You're talking, you can breathe." The same ridiculous arguments that Barnett is using-the victim caused his own death, was violent, had an enlarged heart that lead to his death, were used by our DA, Gilbert Otero, to justify not charging the killer cops in Bubba's case. We haven't given up Adrian N Rachel Gutierrez-Contreras. We can prove the investigation is a fraud. The citizens of Fullerton stood up and kept standing up for Kelly Thomas. Imperial is a community terrified of their own police-terrified into silence.

James Gilbert
James Gilbert

I'm just saying that if his dad wasn't a cop, he would be thought of by the public as a "bum" and nothing would have happened to the cops that killed him. I believe everybody deserves justice, but that doesn't happen in this country (the USA) which I've lived in my entire life.

Michael Crossman
Michael Crossman

If we executed bad cops on live TV, this kinda shit wouldn't happen!

michaeltrubui
michaeltrubui

throw the book at the thug..this cop face look real evil....you pay for your crime ass hole

Naomi M. Anderson
Naomi M. Anderson

I get your point about some people receiving more justice than others. But your point about the value of a human and how it relates to justice is off-center.

Naomi M. Anderson
Naomi M. Anderson

Because he was "a bum" does NOT mean that he doesn't deserve justice! EVERYONE deserves justice. Is it not our civil right any longer- regardless of our occupation? Please enlighten us.

Naomi M. Anderson
Naomi M. Anderson

So sorry about the loss of your loved one. I don't know anything about the law, but maybe you can persuade someone to investigate? An independent investigation? I don't know what to say. It saddens me when murderers are on the loose- especially when they wear badges... those do more harm to society as a whole. :(

Naomi M. Anderson
Naomi M. Anderson

Oh mah gosh! This troll looking turd is hideous! Appears on the outside as his soul is on the inside! SCARY UGLY!

jessicab198
jessicab198

one good thing, at least this trial is in the public eye so the prosecutors cant lie or hide evidence as they usually do.I watched a trial in JUDGE LANCE JENSENS courtroom once. The guy was up for attempted rape.it was obvious there wasn't any. The GOOD judge asked the prosecutor Lisa Grossman where the attempted rape was but wimp as he is let the trial proceed. This prosecutor lied over and over to the jury and hid evidence. The guy had a pretty bad attorney. He was quite an embarrassment,named Edward Welbourn. Lance Jensen gave the guy 14 years in prison, all the time knowing there was no attempted rape. I changed all my law classes. Made me sick.

Jonathan Bahena
Jonathan Bahena

Off with their heads. This will teach other officers that they are here to protect and serve.

boboorozco1
boboorozco1

I applaud the defense attorneys.  They are doing their job, which if done well, will ensure one less ground for appeal after the guilty verdict is rendered....and a verdict of guilty will most assuredly be rendered (res ipsi loquitor).

In this sense, a strong defense is the prosecution's best friend.

Newport Beat
Newport Beat

Not a few bad apples - many bad apples. There are way too many thugs with badges in this country who are waiting for any opportunity to take their anger and aggression out on innocent civilians.

alexj774
alexj774

Moxley has never read a police report before this article. Or if he did,  he didn't pay attention.  Each officer wrote a report to account for their involvement in the incident.  They just mention what they did.  They don't have to describe what the other officers did.  Sort of like a journalist: write the story, remain neutral, and sign your name.

ElaP
ElaP

Why don't they just say that they never saw Kelly Thomas in their entire lives? 

Eric Bootow
Eric Bootow

I can't wait to see these cowards go to jail!!!

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

Anyone in Orange County CA in the position of holding these cops accountable who looks the other way as your law enforcement community continues to act like Mafia Police are equally responsible for this man's death. That includes the very people prosecuting the cops. And the very court hearing the case.

In your cowardly complacency or criminal greed you are equally to blame.

BBain
BBain

?? Nice objective journalism Mr. Moxley, or should I address you as "R"?  The defense is doing what defense lawyers do... try to get their clients off.  What should they say - that the cops beat him to death?  I do like your writing style though and I hope these cops go to prison.

Mari Aster
Mari Aster

these criminal defense lawyers (are doing their job) but, they better wake the F**k up! they can't hide in fantasy land forever!

Susan Brown Muecke
Susan Brown Muecke

I just watched the video again. That man calling for his dad. Heartbreaking. I really don't like policemen. Too much power.

Anthony 'Ace' Leon
Anthony 'Ace' Leon

iT SHOULD BE A NEW POLICY ANY OFFICERS DO BEATING SHOULD BE ARREST AND REMOVED FROM THE FORCE FOR GOOD...THERE NO REASON GOING THAT FAR..JUST ARREST SOMEONE AND GET STORY LATER.

Adrian N Rachel Gutierrez-Contreras
Adrian N Rachel Gutierrez-Contreras

OC Weekly, thank you for being brave enough to print/post stories such as this. Not many media outlets will show the pros and cons of our law enforcement and you are a beacon of truth in a lot of darkness. Families such as ours are grateful for media outlets who recognize that all stories deserve to be told. God bless you! RC

Adrian N Rachel Gutierrez-Contreras
Adrian N Rachel Gutierrez-Contreras

Matthew Acosta, thank you! As his family we can only pray that justice be served to other victims whose stories are being heard. Happy Holidays to you! RC

Matthew Acosta
Matthew Acosta

@ Adrian N Rachel Gutierrez-Contreras, my condolences. Stories like yours will be omitted from public eye unless you do EXACTLY what you have just done. Educating the reader about personal information pertaining to similar incidents is golden. Enjoy your holidays.

Matthew Acosta
Matthew Acosta

@ OC Weekly, true. In general, the bad outweigh the good. And that, with credit given, is a shame. As an entity of serving up storyline after storyline, quips and truths, I commend the staff of the paper. The debates and argumentative opinions of the people have been engineered for the purpose of input. That is why your value will not plateau. Thanks.

Adrian N Rachel Gutierrez-Contreras
Adrian N Rachel Gutierrez-Contreras

My brother in law was murdered by 2 police officers in the same manner as Kelly Thomas. On July 5th 2010 in Imperial Valley, California. My brother in law was a kind, quiet, smart young man who had never been in a fight in his life. There was no video/audio of the murder...it was the cops word against a dead young man. There was witnesses who saw the entire thing and after being harassed by local enforcement...declined to come forward. He was a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend and one of the most amazing human beings many had the honor of knowing. We protested, we begged, we tried all we could to fight and in the end they were cleared of criminal charges as there was "not sufficient evidence". Over 1000 people were at his funeral. He died the same death as Kelly Thomas. Cried out the same painful words as Kelly...he was murdered. His name was Edmund Gutierrez. We called him Bubba. I write this because no matter what...victims of police brutality will NEVER be forgotten. We love you Bubba! RC

OC Weekly
OC Weekly

Actually, we've done quite a few—you can look them up!

guest2013
guest2013

The defense team is HIRED to point the finger at the victim for causing his own death, but in the end, there's NO question that these "vigilantes in uniform" meted out their own level of "justice" aka MURDER to Kelly Thomas and hopefully the jury with see thru the defense attorneys' IDIOTIC attempts to cast doubt on the guilt of these murderers.  So glad to see that the UCI trauma dr. agrees with the opinions of the coroner.  It's about time that "vigilantes in uniform" are brought to task for MURDERING Kelly.

Brian Murdock
Brian Murdock

Guilty,, what about the lady who made the false phone call, she should be up there with them.,?!

Rodrigo Mojica
Rodrigo Mojica

Jail for those and any other Law enforcement agents that act out of hate and not logic.

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

Thank you Dr. Lekawa. The ridiculous antics of the defense team cannot compete with cold, hard facts!

Richard Cendejas
Richard Cendejas

The worst part was that they knew he was mentally handicapped. Cowards felt threatened by the mentally handicapped? No bullies felt superior. Lock them up and toss away the key, this is murder for sure.

Horacio Valdez
Horacio Valdez

corrupt pigs getting their way? Judges taking their words over the innocent? yup this looks about right

-paulc-
-paulc-

Here's a question:  could the 2nd degree charge be changed to 1st? 

ocdeputydawg
ocdeputydawg

No one from the Sheriffs Dept has ever confirmed that Kyle Thomas ever worked at the Dept.

rscottmoxley
rscottmoxley topcommenter

@alexj774 Yeah, right, "alexj774," the Fullerton Police Department manual tells cops to write incomplete official reports when they've brutally killed an unarmed citizen. If you think you have a page or section from the department manual (and I do have a copy) that supports your laughably ignorant assertion, please supply it here tonight. I'll await your reply.... 

MDStill
MDStill

@-paulc- Actually they will not even be able to prove the 2nd degree case.  We know the actions of these guys caused the death of Kelly Thomas.  The problem with the law is that murder is a specific intent crime.  The prosecutor MUST prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the intent of these officers was to KILL him.  They wont be able to get there.  That is why Tony is doing the trial with Jim Tanazaki.  Nobody on the homicide unit would take the case because there are too many proof issues with the murder charge.  Manslaughter, assault under color of authority causing death all easy slam dunks.  they would have pled by now.  But DA office politics being what they are we have this display of improper charging.

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

Good question...I'm not an attorney but it seems evident to me that Ramos entered the situation with bad intent...doesn't that speak to premeditation?

-paulc-
-paulc-

right, because he had run ins with Kelly before.  didnt the fat one say, Im going fuck you up...and something with fist?  Thats intent...though im not lawyer, but i play one on the internet.

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

Even before Ramos made his infamous statement I think the transcripts of the verbal exchange between the officers and Thomas clearly show that Ramos had no intention of resolving the situation in a peaceful and/or professional manner...

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