Minutes after Jan. 13 verdicts that elated two former Fullerton Police Department cops charged in the beating death of Kelly Thomas, a defeated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas stood in front of a bank of television news cameras and nearly three dozen reporters in hopes of making a graceful exit from a courthouse disaster.
|Media pool photo by The Orange County Register|
|Ex-Fullerton cop Manny Ramos hugs defense lawyer after not guilty verdicts|
Rackauckas--a conservative, law-and-order Republican--declared that he accepted the jury's relatively swift, eight-hour rejection of his charges against Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli, and he floated a sales pitch: He'd succeeded because his goal was for a citizen's panel representing the community to decide if the brutal police killing of the 37-year-old, homeless man in July 2011 had been reasonable.
"The police have to be accountable to the community," said the four-term DA, who insisted he stands by his decision to make history by filing a second-degree murder charge against Ramos, who instigated the fatal encounter with the schizophrenic suspect, as well as lesser charges against Cicinelli, who used the butt of a Taser gun to crush a restrained Thomas' facial bones.
Prior to the Thomas killing, no police officer in Orange County history had been charged with murder for on-duty conduct.
See also: Kelly Thomas Trial: Courthouse AftermathMore »