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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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, Kelly Thomas, Uncategorized and tagged AJ Redkey, Fullerton, Jay Cicinelli, Kelly Thomas, Manuel Ramos, PM Beers, Ron Thomas, settlement, wrongful death. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.