Kelly Thomas was beaten to death by police officers in Fullerton, California back in the summer of 2011. The fatal beating of Thomas, who was homeless and reportedly suffered from mental illness, was caught on CCTV cameras on July 5, 2011.
CNN reported that yesterday a jury acquitted two of the officers originally charged with the death of Thomas. Officer Manuel Ramos was charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter while the other officer, Jay Cincinelli was charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force. Both men were found not guilty on all charges.
The serious nature of the charges surrounds the fact the CCTV footage showed Kelly Thomas being beaten, clubbed and stunned with a Taser by police officers. The victim’s father, Ron Thomas, said following the shock verdict: “This is carte blanche to police officers to do whatever they want.”
Cathy Thomas, Kelly’s mother, also expressed her outrage at the verdict: “I’m just horrified. They got away with murdering my son.”
Prosecutors also confirmed that they would not pursue charges against a third police officer who is also alleged to have been involved in the beating. The trial for Joseph Wolfe was pending, until the other two officers were acquitted.
Tony Rackauckas, the Orange County District Attorney told reporters: “I don’t intend to proceed with another trial when the two officers here were acquitted.”
Meanwhile in a curious statement from Ramos’ attorney, John Barnett, he said: “These peace officers were doing their jobs…. They did what they were trained to do.”
The prosecutors allege that the video footage clearly shows the officers beating a man even as he seems to be calling for help. The defense, on the other hand, are saying that the footage clearly shows two officers trying to restrain an abnormally strong and violent suspect.
It remains to be seen whether or not an appeal against the Kelly Thomas verdict will be made. For now, some members of the public are outraged that the officers were acquitted and that the third officer involved will not be put to trial.