Kelly Thomas – No Trial In Wrongful Death Civil Case – Settlement Reached

The jury was selected. Opening statements were scheduled for this morning. However, the City of Fullerton, California reached a settlement, agreeing to pay $4.9 million in the wrongful death lawsuit.

On July 5, 2011, 37-year old Kelly Thomas was living on the streets of Fullerton. Kelly was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Wikipedia reports;

“On July 5, 2011, at about 8:30 PM, officers of the Fullerton Police Department responded to a call from the management of the Slidebar that someone was vandalizing cars near the Fullerton Transportation Center. While investigating, they encountered the shirtless and disheveled Thomas and attempted to search him. According to statements given by the officers, Thomas was uncooperative and resisted when they attempted to search him. “Now you see my fists?” Fullerton police officer Manny Ramos asked Thomas while slipping on a pair of latex gloves. “Yeah, what about them?” Thomas responded. “They are getting ready to fuck you up,” said Ramos. A video of the event surfaced, and Thomas can be heard repeatedly screaming in pain while officers are heard repeatedly asking him to place his arms behind his back. He audibly responds “Okay, I’m sorry!” and “I’m trying!” while the officers stretch his arm back. The police officers claim that, unable to get Thomas to comply with the requests, they used a taser on him (up to five times- to his scrotum as well, according to a witness statement, and the video footage), and in the video Thomas can be heard screaming “Dad! Dad!” Six officers were involved in subduing Thomas, who was unarmed and had a history of mental illness. Thomas was initially taken to St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton but was transferred immediately to the UC Irvine Medical Center with severe injuries to his head, face, and neck. One of the paramedics testified that he was first instructed to attend to a police officer’s minor injury and then noticed Thomas lying unconscious in a pool of blood.”

kelly-thomas-before-and-after

Kelly Thomas – Before and After

Tony Rackauckas, the Orange County District Attorney, provided evidence that Thomas did comply with orders from Officer Ramos. A month after Kelly was beaten, six officers were placed on administrative leave. The Fullerton City Council called for the resignation of police Chief Michael Sellers. Sellers was subsequently placed on medical leave in August 2011. He resigned February 18, 2012.

Kelly was assaulted for almost 10 minutes. The coroner determined that contributing factors to Kelly’s death were injuries to his face and head, brain injuries, facial and rib fractures, and the police sitting on Kelly’s chest making him unable to breathe. A toxicology report showed that Kelly had no illicit drugs nor alcohol in his system.

Michael Reeves, a bouncer for the Slidebar, who made the call to police, said that the owner wanted employees to do “anything necessary” to keep loiterers out of the area. To get the police to respond quickly, he said that a man was breaking into cars. Reeves was terminated from his job and filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Slidebar, alleging that he was fired for telling the truth about the Slidebar’s police. The suit was settled.

KellyThomas-cops

Jay Cicinelli and Manuel Ramos

Three officers were arrested. Manuel Ramos was charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Former Cpl. Jay Cicinelli was charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive force.   On July 3, 2012, Officer Ramos’ employment was terminated. Joe Wolfe was no longer with the police department as of July 16, 2012, and Jay Cicinelli left his job on July 20, 2012. Ramos and Cicinelli went on trial on January 13, 2014. Prosecutors decided not to try Joe Wolfe in the same trial.   A jury acquitted Ramos and Cicinelli on all counts. Prosecutors then dropped the charges against Wolfe.

 

Citizen journalists

AJ Redkey and PM Beers

After the verdict, protesters took to the streets. Two citizen journalists, AJ Redkey and PM Beers were arrested, charged with failure to disperse. If convicted, they could serve sentences of six months in jail. In March, a jury deadlocked on the misdemeanor charges and prosecutors vowed to retry the case.  This past Friday, Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Knox dismissed the case against them.

 

In August, 2015, Ramos was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence for allegedly assaulting a woman.

 

la-me-ln-4-9-million-settlement-in-death-of-me-002

Ron Thomas, center, is flanked by attorney’s Garo Mardirossian, left and Dale Galipo during a press conference Monday after a $4.9-million settlement was reached in the death of Thomas’ mentally ill homeless son, Kelly Thomas Monday, November 23, 2015. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The settlement to Ron Thomas, Kelly’s father, is significantly larger than that awarded to Kelly’s mother in May 2012, which was $1 million.   Ron Thomas filed wrongful death lawsuit on July 5, 2012.  The settlement today comes 4 years after Kelly died from the injuries inflicted on him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The below is the full, unforgettable video.

 

Posted on 11/23/2015, in Cases, Cops Gone Wild, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. yahtzeebutterfly

    And, his was such a sad, WRONGFUL death.

    May Kelly’s agony in death be replaced by gentleness in the heavenly rest of peace and embracing love.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Two sides to a story

    Very interesting! I live near where Kelly was killed, but have been mostly offline for a couple of days to finish some work. I usually catch news of this case from FB pages.

    Ron Thomas always claimed he wasn’t doing his lawsuit for the money, but was most interested in bringing the case to trial to establish it as a civil rights case and also so that the beating video could be entered into evidence, as most of it was excluded from the criminal trial.

    I think this settlement may be disappointing to some people who spent countless hours attending city council meetings, protesting in the streets, and keeping this case alive in the media, first to force the firing and arrest of some of the officers involved and to boot some city council members out, and then to protest the surreal not guilty verdict, and finally to support Ron Thomas during the pre-trial hearings and jury selection and the few days this civil case was in progress, as well as supporting the livestreamers who were harassed by county prosecutors for airing the protests and arrests of protestors.

    None of the above would have happened without vigorous citizen involvement. It was business as usual in the city of Fullerton and in the Orange County Justice system until citizens forced their hand.

    At least the settlements to Kelly’s parents show that Kelly’s death was a wrongful one, but that video needed to be aired in its entirety for a jury before a settlement, I feel, for justice to have been served. Typical justice system manuevers “behind the Orange curtain” as they say in OC, CA. That’s
    ‘Merica for ya.

    The officers who killed Kelly and the officers who watched should have been held responsible. We’ll have to trust karma to take care of that.

    I didn’t keep up on the jury selection for the civil case. I know that it began a couple of weeks ago, and it’s surprising if the court found twelve jurors who didn’t know anything about this case or who hadn’t watched this video.

    Thanks, Xena, for posting the video – at least it’s still available online as a testament to one of the most horrendous beatings by Cali cops since the Rodney King beating by LAPD.

    FPD officers are now wearing cameras and hopefully Kelly’s death as well as some dicey deaths dealt by officers in subsequent cases in the area (shootings) have forced many policy changes among several law enforcement agencies.

    Seems it’ll be a long time before mental health and homeless issues will be sorted out, though. I also wonder if we’ll ever see the day when cops who murder without just cause are consistently held responsible.

    On a side note, Tony Rackauckas, the Orange County District Attorney, actually presented a fairly lukewarm criminal case and part of the reason why the officers who killed Kelly were not convicted.

    Rackauckas is now on the hotseat for using jailhouse snitches in a cut and dried salon shooting case that should have been an easy conviction but instead ended up in a mistrial on the first go round. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/orange-county-jailhouse-snitch-investigation_564c99d8e4b08cda348b9d50

    Liked by 5 people

    • Y’know they don’t need a jury who hadn’t heard of the case or seen the video. They just ask them if they can “set aside” their opinion or whatever.
      As if you can forget what you thought while you watched a pack of rabid dogs attack a baby and now consider the dogs perfectly innocent just because they have a right to a trial.

      Like

  3. yahtzeebutterfly

    The audio and video are off. The first portion when he is just sitting seems to has the audio of his crying for help that occurs at the end. Check out, for instance, around time stamp 11:00.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Two sides to a story

    There’s some juicy details about this morning’s machinations about the case at the OC Register, which used to engage mostly in conservative sweep-it-under-the-rug politics but has been improving lately.

    Apparently the trial was due to start at 9 this morning morning and the settlement was an 11th hour deal at about 7 AM. The make-up of the jury was apparently a deciding factor – looks as if the defense felt the jury might award more had the video been viewed!

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/thomas-693437-fullerton-city.html

    Liked by 4 people

    • Two sides to a story

      PS – There was also at least one eyewitness who was recording officers harassing and beating Kelly with his phone, but one of the officers snatched it. I met this man and his wife at a gathering at “Kelly’s Corner” in Fullerton on the evening of the day the not guilty verdict came in. She may be the lady whose voice you hear in the video exclaiming about the number of times they tased Kelly.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Two sides to a story

        *eyewitness who was recording with his phone the officers harrassing and beating Kelly* Yikes – the bystander wasn’t beating Kelly with his phone!

        Liked by 3 people

        • read that very carefully please……it says he was recording “with his phone” and then moves on to what he was recording….no offense please, but i write this because it is something i encounter often, people MISreading what i wrote.

          Like

  5. There are some videos I will never be spiritually able to watch. This is one of many. Too many.

    I am waking up to headlines stating a Chicago police officer is going to be charged with murder today. I almost feel like this will be a big waste of time and gives false hope to the family as we know how too many of these cases have ended, with acquittals for the officers and no justice found for the families

    http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/1125196/sneed-exclusive-officer-shot-laquan-mcdonald-charged-tuesday

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mindyme,
      That’s the case where the police department has kept the dash cam video secretive. It appears now that they did so because they know it shows actions that constitute first-degree murder.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Im afraid I agree. I saw someone on TV say if it had been a civilian that executed a cop, would the prosecutor need 13 months to charge the guy?
      What is the difference? Why would a cop get so much more consideration than civilian when we actually pay them NOT TO ENDANGER citizens?!

      Its just so simple to me. If a cop shoots someone unjustifiably they need to be punished even more severely than the rest of us, because if a cop can’t tell the difference between a guy with a cell phone & guy with a gun, what the hell is he doing with a badge & a gun running loose on our streets?

      Like

  6. Maybe there is a parallel universe where cops are better than criminals, and where they set a good example by scrupulously adhering to the law themselves.

    I know this is foolishly naive, but it seems to me that cops ought to be better than the miscreants they are supposed to keep in line. They, if anyone, should be aware of the law and they, if anyone, should observe the law. Instead, it’s rare to even see a cop car use its turn signal.

    “Excuse me, officer, why didn’t you follow the rules and signal your turn?”
    “I feared for my life!”

    Like

    • Pat,
      Can you imagine soldiers killing civilians and giving the excuse that they feared for their life? Of course, anyone who voluntarily applies for a job that requires them to carry and use weapons should know of the danger. The bravery is not in the weapon, but in the heart.

      Like

  7. Two sides to a story

    I’m more and more convinced that we need to have special prisons for cops, like military prisons . . . there won’t be many convictions until LE unions are brought into line.

    Here’s a new audio interview of Ron Thomas explaining why he accepted the settlement for his son’s death – http://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2015/11/24/45347/ron-thomas-on-accepting-4-9m-to-settle-civil-case/

    Like

  8. yahtzeebutterfly

    “Kelly Thomas case: 5 years later, feds say no criminal charges against Fullerton police officers”
    Jan. 23, 2017 Updated Jan. 24, 2017 6:24 a.m.
    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/thomas-741972-federal-civil.html

    Like

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