Meanwhile, a lawyer for Jay Cicinelli, one of the two former
officers at the center of the case, said his client would seek to be
rehired by the Fullerton Police Department now that he had been
cleared of involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force
charges in the 2011 death of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas.
Orange County prosecutors had accused the two men, who approached
Thomas near a bus depot to question him about reports of vandalized
cars, of turning a routine law enforcement encounter into an
unnecessary and savage bludgeoning that cost the unarmed homeless
man his life.
Defense lawyers won acquittals for Cicinelli and co-defendant Manuel
Ramos in the case by arguing at trial that Thomas was dangerous and
that the officers responded according to their training. They also
said the transient suffered from a weak heart brought on by drug
"In 2011, the FBI opened an investigation to determine if Mr.
Thomas' civil rights were violated during an altercation with
Fullerton police officers," FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a
statement on Tuesday.
"With the conclusion of the state court trial, investigators will
examine the evidence and testimony to determine if further
investigation is warranted at the federal level," Eimiller said.
Thomas' brutal beating as he was subdued by six officers was caught
on a surveillance camera at the bus station and led to angry street
demonstrations in Fullerton, 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles, as
well as the ouster of three city council members in a recall
On the videotape, Ramos is seen strapping latex gloves on his hands,
balling them into fists in Thomas's face and telling the drifter,
whom he knew from previous encounters: "You see these fists? They
are getting ready to f--- you up."
By the end of the tape, Thomas can be heard screaming for help as
officers swarm over him, delivering multiple blows and shocks with a
stun gun. He is heard calling dozens of times for his father to help
him, yelling: "Daddy, they're killing me."
"IT'S NOT OVER"
Father Ron Thomas, speaking to reporters on Tuesday afternoon,
called on the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute Ramos and
Cicinelli and said he would not abandon a civil lawsuit he filed
against the officers, the Fullerton Police Department and the city.
"It's very important that the federal government find reason to
charge them and bring them into federal court," said the elder
Thomas, a former Orange County Sheriff's deputy who had earlier
described himself as "disgusted" by the verdicts.
[to top of second column]
"I look at this like a prize fight. It's not over. We still have
several rounds to go and we've been stopped so far, but I will not
stop until we get justice for Kelly."
An attorney for Ron Thomas, Garo Mardirossian, said he had already
subpoenaed all six Fullerton officers involved in the melee to give
depositions in the case and would put them on the witness stand in
the civil case.
Ramos, who was acquitted of second-degree murder and use of
excessive force, and Cicinelli did not testify in their own defense
during the criminal trial in Orange County Superior Court.
Defense attorney Zachery Lopes told Reuters in an interview that
Cicinelli had contested his dismissal from the Fullerton Police
Department in an administrative process that was put on hold during
the criminal trial. Now that the trial is over, Lopes said,
Cicinelli would resume that effort.
A spokesman for the Fullerton Police Department could not
immediately be reached for comment.
The city of Fullerton has already agreed to pay $1 million to
Thomas's mother in a negotiated settlement of any claims she might
have brought in her son's death. The victim's parents are divorced
and litigating separately.
In 2012, Fullerton's acting chief of police posthumously exonerated
Thomas of any wrongdoing in connection with the confrontation,
saying he was cleared of any suspicion that he provoked the violent
struggle that led to his death.
(Reporting by Dana Feldman and Dan Whitcomb;
writing by Dan
Whitcomb; editing by Cynthia Johnston, Gunna Dickson, Lisa Shumaker
and Eric Walsh)
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