Jury Begins Kelly Thomas Deliberations; DA Calls Police Violence "Unconscionable"

rackauckastiff.jpg
Media pool photo by The Orange County Register
DA Tony Rackauckas: Don't be fooled by defense-lawyer trickery
Orange County's suburban juries are often dominated by unswerving, pro-cop biases, so District Attorney Tony Rackauckas had to be careful today when he asked a panel of eight women and four men to use "common sense" and hold two Fullerton police officers criminally liable for the 2011 beating death of Kelly Thomas.

"We have great law enforcement in Orange County," Rackauckas said in his closing argument before the jury began deliberations around lunchtime. "This case was put together by good police officers. So this is not an indictment of the Fullerton Police Department or police departments [in the county]."

This case is only about the "unconscionable" treatment of Thomas by charged officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli, the conservative Republican DA explained.

In July 2011, a group of cops savagely beat Thomas while pondering whether to arrest him for possession of stolen property after the 37-year-old, unarmed, homeless and schizophrenic man took several pieces of valueless, discarded mail from a trash can at the Fullerton Transportation Center.

An obnoxious Ramos initiated contact with the suspect, sassed him, antagonized him, and then, in a move the county's top prosecutor calls criminal, declared his fists were going to "fuck you up."

Rackauckas told jurors that "only a defense lawyer could make up" Barnett's rationale that nobody would consider the officer's statement as a looming threat of excessive force.

Thomas' battered, bloody body didn't look human when the cops finished punching, kicking, stomping, kneeing and firing Taser darts at him.

kellythomasbeforepic.jpg
Thomas
John Barnett and Michael Schwartz, defense lawyers for Ramos and Cicinelli, respectively, insist that Rackauckas and four doctors--all of whom independently testified the cause of Thomas' death was the severe police beating that denied him critical oxygen--are engaged in an undefined conspiracy to frame their clients.

Rackauckas told jurors that if there was any conspiracy it was among Fullerton cops Stephen Rubio and Kevin Craig, who shamelessly testified for the defense that they couldn't see any misguided police conduct during the relentless, seven-minute beating--never mind that the department fired Ramos and Cicinelli in the wake of the killing.

Adding to the craziness, both veteran lawyers adopted angry poses and asserted there is "no evidence" tying the beating to the death that followed.

Rackauckas labeled the defense's trial strategy that espoused seven excuses designed to shield the now-fired cops from accountability as "straw man" arguments and "nonsense."

For example, Barnett and Schwartz asserted the fully armed cops needed to pummel the 160-pound Thomas because they feared his supernatural strength and the officers should not be expected to pay attention to the victim's repeated complaints about a dwindling supply of oxygen.

mannyramosear.jpg
Media pool photo by The Orange County Register
Ramos
Schwartz portrayed Thomas--who never swung a single punch---as giving the group of cops "the fight of their lives," but the officers emerged with only tiny, boo-boo scratches.

Apparently willing to simultaneously assert contradictory accounts, Cicinelli's lawyer also described Thomas' fight stance during the attack as "rigid and locked and trying not to move."

And all the horrifically gruesome wounds to Thomas?

Schwartz boldly told the jury those injuries could have been caused not by the cops, but "from just rolling around in the street."

Though his client bragged to fellow cops after the beating that he'd "smashed" Thomas' face "to hell," Schwartz provided a dismissive view of the wounds.

"Yeah, [Thomas] got some bruises," he argued. "Yeah, he's got some cuts."

kellythomasbeating.jpg
Police lawyer: Kelly Thomas only suffered "some" cuts and bruises . . .
Said Rackauckas, "Some of the things the defense said were pretty ridiculous."

Jurors are now in their first few hours of deliberations inside Superior Court Judge William R. Froeberg's 10th-floor Santa Ana courtroom.

UPDATE, 4:30 p.m.: Jurors left without reaching a verdict this afternoon and will not return until Monday.

See also: The Complete Kelly Thomas Killing Archives

Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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

My Voice Nation Help
85 comments
get_oscar
get_oscar

one day they'll be a new world order....

get_oscar
get_oscar

If I was younger I would kick there ass and beat them to be my bitch these cops are thug's...

ipooponamerika
ipooponamerika

Want to STOP cases of egregious police abuse like poor Kelly's from ever happening again ...FOREVER?

-Institute *INDEPENDANT CIVILIAN* REVIEW & OVERSIGHT BOARDS with the authority to suspend and even FIRE rogue officers.

-Institute an automatic DOUBLING of sentences & fines after conviction for any judge, prosecutor, police officer or similar civil servant who is found guilty of ANY crime after trial, together with a life-long BAN on ever holding ANY public office or position ever again.

-Inform citizens of their RIGHT to physically and/or otherwise RESIST egregious bodily harm and abuse from a police officer acting unlawfully.

VOILA! The Social Contract has now been preserved!

paradisepugs5
paradisepugs5

Cops are not here to protect the people - They are here to protect the government, write tickets and arrest code breakers - Former police officer - Retired - As a former police officer, I hope these to deformed punks get killed or commit suicide ...

smokey5152
smokey5152

Those 2 other cops, Rubio & Craig, should be on trial for their participation in the event, lying to the court, and conspiracy to commit murder.


...just sayin'... if it happened to one of us... this whole thing is horrible and ALL involved need to be prosecuted to the FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW.


tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

DA Tony Rackauckas: "Don't be fooled by defense-lawyer trickery".

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

@Itpar:

"You see  these 2 fists, they're about ready to f**k you up". - Ramos

Can you imagine a protector of the law saying that to you? - OCDA Tony Rackaukas

"The citizens have a right to protect themselves from the police". - OCDA Tony Rackaukas. (2011).

dkmomemtp
dkmomemtp

I am family friends with Ron & Cathy Thomas! This has taken too long to get to court! We've sat in court many times waiting for Justice for the family! I can honestly say that if these cop's get off it will be bad! It will mean that the jurors are scared of dirty cop's! However looking at them I know Justice is on the way! Ramos your going to jail!!!!!!!!

ipooponamerika
ipooponamerika

I used to work as both a State of CA and Federal Court interpreter until I witnessed SO MANY RAMPANT ABUSES while on the job committed against innocent people that I resigned in disgust and thereby gave-up on a lucrative job.

Of course, the fact that I was instrumental in having an OC superior court judge FIRED for inappropriate behavior while on the bench might have ALSO played a part in shortening my otherwise illustrious career.

In any event, people need to know this: the fact is that the American Justus system is a PAY-TO-PLAY game that has NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO with the administration of real justice. It's about squeezing money out of people whilst making sure that they know their place.

nebeltex
nebeltex

Note to self (and all Americans).... stay away from OC. There are criminal cops there. It is sad that the honest populace didn't stop this before it happened. It is a pattern of criminal conspiracy worthy of a RICO investigation. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a ton of injustice....

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

On one hand I'm wondering what the hell the jury has to deliberate about...but on the other hand I'm thinking they are trying to combat any future accusations that they came to the verdict too hastily...

risinwind70
risinwind70

Brilliantly written once again Mr. Moxley!

Rich Wagner
Rich Wagner

Brett I hope I am wrong too, but I'm so disillusioned by the system bro

Steve Calderon
Steve Calderon

Both guilty but probably just getting some sore of probation deal! They both shouldn't be reinstated as police!

Isaac Ramirez
Isaac Ramirez

Any degrees off murder on the verdict - your opinion Ese !??

Isaac Ramirez
Isaac Ramirez

I also blame the people who witnessed the beating taking place - there were several groups of people in the berry close vicinity of the transit center watching this take place - had they made there presence more know to the pigz and spoke up, Mr. Kelly Thomas might still be with us. Fuck Ramos and Cincinelli

BuzzRadio Steve
BuzzRadio Steve

This is a growing trend, citizens getting harassed, beaten and even shot by these people we are supposed to trust and respect. How much more of this "militant" behavior are we going to have to endure? I'm afraid to get pulled over for a simple traffic violation anymore, who knows wtf these cops are going to pull. You ask one question and they get bent! I know they have a tough job, but does that mean we're all punching bags and targets for these short fused armed bullies? I grew up respecting the police, it's really hard to keep that respect now with all the corruption going on. When's it going to end? What has to happen to get these cops to man up and do the job they were hired to do? "protect and serve", or is there some other agenda taking place we don't know about?

-paulc-
-paulc-

@get_oscarOr a small riot in Fullerton and calling for Rackauckas to resign.

ipooponamerika
ipooponamerika

@smokey5152 I completely agree! Clearly ALL the uniformed thugs involved are equally guilty of participating in this crime. If the tables were turned and Kelly along with a few of his friends had assaulted a cop, EVERYONE INVOLVED (and their pets) would have been charged, prosecuted and -undoubtedly- CONVICTED. Doors would have been kicked in. People would have been roughed-up. Grandma woulda gotten TASERED.  

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

@tongue_twister_for_t I must laugh at the comments of our half-assed District Attorney who has never done a lick of street law enforcement but of course he knows it all.  As a paper pushing attorney, he gets to second guess the work being done by the Cops in the trenches.  Rackaukas biggest split second decision came ne day when he had to decide whether to have mustard or ketchup on his hot dog at lunch.  Guess you could say, the guy doesn't have much credibility, at least with me.  Secondly, there is this thing called the Use of Force Continuum, which Officers are trained and retrained to use in field situations.  It's purpose is to determine an appropriate level of force to be used in dealing with various situations.  It starts with command presence, the uniform, and appearance of the Officer.  It then moves on to verbal commands, defusing a hostile situation if possible, or using stronger vebal tones/language to gain compliance from the suspect. With different people and specific circumstances, a variety of verbage is used.  If the person is cooperative, the Officer responds in a professional, polite and business manner.  If the person is not coooperative and wishes to escelate instead of de-escelate, the Officer moves to stronger language.  If the person appears to have the potential to become violent, the Officer may resort to street language like that used by Officer Ramos.  I don't personally ever recall using exactly those terms, but did threaten to kick the suspects ass if he chose the path of violence.  For the most part, verbal commands are the Officer playing a role in the Use of Force Continuum.  If that doesn't work and physical violence is encountered, physical restraint would be the next step on the Continuum.  Depending on the size, strength and violence level of the supsect, the next step might result in use of the baton, mace, taser or other nonlethal tools the Officer has  at his/her disposal.  Lastly, an only in the most extreme situations comes use of lethal force.  What might cause this phase to be employed you might ask?  If the suspect acquires a weapon, club or knife or other object and threatenes the Officer with it.  If in the struggle, the suspect is able to get his hands on and is fighting for an Officer's gun.  Rarely, does it get to this stage of the Continuum and the matter is usually resolved in the first or second level.  Obviously, it went further in the Thomas case and that is what the Jury will be considering in depth.  If they agree with the District Attorney that the Officers went too far and excessive force was used, they will render a "Guilty" verdict.  If they believe the Officers acted within the Use of Force Continuum, a "Not Guilty" verdict will be forthcoming.  Bottom line is there are nothing but losers in this case.  Most importantly, a human life was lost and regardless of the circumstances Kelly Thomas did not deserve to die.  Secondly, the careers of two previously good Police Officers are finished and they may do prison time to boot.  Unfortunately, this is the society we now live in and it isn't getting any better.    

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

Cicinelli is the one that smashed his face in with the Tazer Gun, he's the murderer.

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

 "the fact is that the American Justus system is a PAY-TO-PLAY game that has NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO with the administration of real justice".

That is so very TRUE - they made me pay by taking anger management classes at a catlickers high school for the behaviors of another person that had dementia just because he was old, now I'm angry inside alot more because I found out some things.

 "I have absolutely no influence over the outcomes of the trials in these courtrooms" - Judge Derek Johnson Harbor Court 07) I overheard him say this in the public section to a court clerk 

ipooponamerika
ipooponamerika

@nebeltex PS: you CAN'T rely on a criminally-corrupt judiciary in order to fight against a criminally corrupt law enforcement agency.

ipooponamerika
ipooponamerika

@nebeltex The USSA has morphed into a full-blown POLICE STATE. Criminal cops are now the N O R M.

Wake the F up.

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

@FishWithoutBicycle You can never tell with a jury.  It is made up of twelve people, each who has his/her philosophy of life and sees things differently than any other juror.  Trying to convince twelve different people on any given issue, regardless of the evidence is a tough job, at best. I believe in this case, the jury will agree on some things and not agree on others.  It also depends a lot on how convincing the Prosecution and Defense were in their closing arguments.      

robinrobind9
robinrobind9

They really couldn't do anything, and their cell phones were confiscated! 


ethernot
ethernot

Protect and Serve has become Terrorize, Control, and Suppress. 

CRIMECONCERNS
CRIMECONCERNS

@ltpar @tongue_twister_for_t

It is tragic that a human life was lost and I cannot help but look at the similarities between the Kelly Thomas beating and the John Derek Chamberlain beating in the OC jail on 10/5/06.  Both Chamberlain and Thomas were targeted by law enforcement officials.  The main difference between the 2 cases is Rackauckas made a decision to aggressively pick and choose OC jail inmates to convict for murdering Chamberlain versus holding the OC Sheriffs in charge at the time accountable. I guess we should feel somewhat satisfied that Rackauckas is prosecuting "some" of the Fullerton PD officers for Kelly Thomas' death, but why not all involved in the horrific example of law enforcement abuse?

Two lives lost because of abuse by law enforcement... and most likely, large civil settlements will be paid out  soon after the trial.  Cathy Thomas already received her $1 million and Ron Thomas' civil suit is still pending.  John Chamberlain's father received $600,000 and the taxpayers will continue to be punished for crimes committed by arrogant and self-serving officials.  Nothing has changed in the OC and nothing will until the filth at the very top is voted out of office forever! 

elenoreflores
elenoreflores

@ltpar@tongue_twister_for_t I took what Rackakus was saying about the "street language" describing hands that would fuck him up as being the point where Ramos went from being a cop to being a criminal but I didn't take it that he was saying it was the statement itself that determined that, it was combination of everything going on at that time.  What sticks out in my mind is what he pointed out about Ramos turning his back on Kelley while getting gloved up, do cops always walk away from someone they consider a possible threat and have their backs to the person?  To me that says Ramos knew Kelly wasn't going to be any problem to kick the shit out of LITERALLY.  

My dad was a cop in Santa Ana in the 1970's and we were talking about the Chamberlain case, he couldn't believe Tony had made it to D.A. because he had basically the same opinion you seem to have of him...not to high. Personally I think he did a good job on this case and if I were on the jury I'd vote guilty.  Since its not a perfect world though, I am reluctant to believe that Ramos will be found guilty of 2nd degree murder though.  I think he should be but I doubt he will be.

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

That's the reason as to why I never understood why they won't allow cameras in the courtrooms as if they think that it's a sacred place?

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

It's NOT making thier jobs any easier is it. Too much pressure from the thugs up above them, and that's why LA Sheriff Baca resigned because he is a criminal cop.

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

@ethernot Fear is lke beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder.  For those who obey the law and cause no problems, they will most likely never see the Police.  They have nothing to fear.  For those who cause problems, they should accept responsibility for their action and expect to be treated accordingly.  Fortunately, the latter catagory is only about 10% of an Officer's work time and the other 90% of good citizens make up for the bad.   

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

@elenoreflores @ltpar @tongue_twister_for_t Elenore, there were more experienced and competent D.A.'s in the office, but Rackakus saw the opportunity for some spotlight time. As a general rule, when the D.A.'s sit around discussing various cases for prosecution (Called the Turkey Shoot) they only want to try cases they are certain to win.  Everything else goes into the revolving door of justice and are disposed of with plea bargains or no filing of charges at all.  Rackakus must have been pretty sure of a conviction or he would not have gotten involved.  


On Ramos, it wasn't the use of crude street language with Thomas that got him into trouble, but rather the level of force applied in the arrest.  I haven't followed the specific details of the trial closely, but am sure that the jury will be taking a hard look at what force was reasonable and what was not.  On the final verdict, I tend to agree on the Murder charge and believe a lesser charge of Manslaughter will be sustained.  On the other hand as I said before, "You just can never tell how twelve men and women will respond to a given incident."  

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

@ltpar@FishWithoutBicycle  

I agree with you philosophically...but the reality is (in my opinion) that the rich can hire good attorneys and the poor get railroaded into jail...we need more public defenders! 

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

@FishWithoutBicycle @ltpar We all thought OJ Simpson was an open and shut case and look how that turned out.  The American Justice System is far from perfect but despite the disbelief of Tongue twister, it is about as equal as can be expected for a country our size.  To that I would add, show me a Justice System anyplace in the world which has more rights and equality for those acused of crimes?  

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

"Having spent 35 years working in three Orange County Police Departments",

Well there you go? 35 years working for 3 (corrupt) OC Police Depts. 

Seems to me that you've learned to play thier games. How many cases won as opposed to those lost? 

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

"It has nothing to do with ignorance it is the difference between big city life and small town life, ignorance has nothing to do with it when you were there on the scene and experienced it first hand".

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

@nebeltex Having spent 35 years working in three Orange County Police Departments, I strongly suspect I have seen more reality up close and personal than you will ever encounter in your entire life.  Additionally, while working with a few men and women who should not have been hired as Officers, they were the exception to the rule.  I was never accused of excessive force at any point in my career and I never witnessed it by those I worked with.  I was always known as marching to the beat of my own drummer, was not one of the sheep and would not have stood by and watched anyone regardless of their rank abuse their authority.  Can't speak for law enforcement in total, but that's the way I have seen it throughout my career.  

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

@tongue_twister_for_t Clear to see where you got your anti-police ignorance from?  Like father, like son.  Ignorance apparently runs in your family.  

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

I have news for you, the cops are CAUSING THE PROBLEMS, It's as my dad told me, these big city cops do not know what real crime fighting is, they knitpick and blow the little stuff out of proportion and they lie on the court stand in order to get a conviction to make themselves look good and charge people with crimes that they never committed, They are thugs. They look at the average citizen on the street as if he is the criminal.

RocketJ
RocketJ topcommenter

@ltparInnocent people are regularly harassed, arrested and convicted. To date the innocence project has 312 post conviction exonerations. Delude yourself all you want there is too much evidence that contradicts your unreality.

nebeltex
nebeltex

@ethernot Fantasy talk is cheap in LaLa land... lol! Reality can be expensive. It could cost you or your loved ones their life...

ethernot
ethernot

@nebeltex We were going to ask him what the rents are like in Fantasyland ...

nebeltex
nebeltex

@ltpar There is the "world as it should be", and the "world as it is". What you describe is as it should be. One day you too may experience the world as it is. You are out of touch with reality.

Now Trending

Anaheim Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Fashion

General

Loading...