A jury found that homeless man Kelly Thomas was not murdered by two Fullerton police officers, acquitting them of charges that they beat the schizophrenic man to death during a violent struggle in 2011.
The beating, and subsequent trial, captured the attention of the nation when last year a surveillance video of the incident was released to the public. The video appeared to show police officers provoke the conflict with Kelly Thomas, and then beat him with a club and stun him with a Taser.
"Now see my fists? They are getting ready to f**k you up," one of the officers told Thomas before the beating began.
Thomas, who was mentally ill, cried for his father and repeatedly told officers that he could not breathe. He lost consciousness during the struggle and died a short time later.
Former Fullerton police officer Manuel Ramos was charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter and fellow former officer Jay Cicinelli was charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force. Both were acquitted of all charges.
After the homeless man killing verdict was read by the jury, family members of Kelly Thomas expressed their outrage at the verdict.
"I'm just horrified. They got away with murdering my son," Cathy Thomas, the victim's mother, told reporters after the verdict was read.
The victim's father, Ron Thomas, added that the verdict set a dangerous precedent.
"This is carte blanche to police officers to do whatever they want," he told reporters.
The surveillance video of the homeless man being beaten was shown to the jury many times during the trial. While a medical examiner testified that Thomas died of a brain damage he suffered as a result of injuries suffered during the struggle, defense attorneys suggested that previous drug use caused heart disease that may have contributed to his death.
"These peace officers were doing their job. They had no malice in their heart," said John Barnett, an attorney for Ramos.
After the homeless man jury decision was read, prosecutors announced they would not seek a trial for a third officer involved in the beating.