Protesters gathered on Monday evening to rally against the not guilty verdicts of two former officers in the beating death of a mentally ill homeless man.
An Orange County jury found Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli not guilty of all charges — including manslaughter — in the 2011 death of Kelly Thomas. A surveillance video showed police pummeling and stun-gunning him.
Ron and Cathy Thomas told reporters that the verdict effectively tells police officers that they can kill people and get away with it.
“They got away with murdering my son," Cathy Thomas said through tears. "It's just not fair. I guess it's legal to go out and kill now."
Ron Thomas says the couple are “all torn up” by the verdict.
“This is so egregious … the audio, the video … Any bad cop can now just walk around and do what he wants to do to any of us,” Thomas said. “We’re all in trouble now.”
However, Ramos attorney John Barnett says the officers were simply doing their jobs, committed no crime and had “no malice in their hearts.”
“These peace officers were doing their jobs, operating as they were trained, no malice in their hearts, not out to get someone that night,” Barnett said. “They were working.”
Protesters gathered Monday night at the Fullerton Police Department where Ron Thomas spoke, saying he's planning on using his son's case to call on California legislators to change the police officer's “Bill of Rights.” About a dozen demonstrators also rallied at the Fullerton Transportation Center, the site where police fought with Thomas in the summer of 2011. People who supported Thomas’ family called themselves “Kelly’s Army,” and many feel the DA let them down.
“What happened to that fire? He’s lost it,” said Joanne Sosa, a member of “Kelly’s Army.” “Now he doesn’t want to appeal anything, doesn’t want to go after other officers? He says people had their day in court? That’s a lie.”
Others as far away as Oakland planned a solidarity march for Thomas. Others, meanwhile, reacted on Twitter.
"Disturbed to hear about the outcome of the #KellyThomas case," wrote Twitter user Kim Deniz. “Keep fighting for justice Fullerton.”
Twitter user Jonathan Graves, wrote: #KellyThomas I will never be stopping in Fullerton, CA and I’m appalled by this ruling. This is not the world I want my kids growing up in."
"If you haven’t been following the story, look up #KellyThomas," wrote Twitter user Erin Hutchinson. "Horrible abuse of power by police that lead to murder of a homeless man."
This is an inexplicable verdict given the video evidence. I watched it. One cop shoved Thomas and both cops took swings at him with nightsticks without any provocative action on his part at the very start. When attacked, he naturally tried to run away and put his hands up to stop the sticks from hitting him. That was his crime. They used excessive force and then made him pay with his life for their mistake.
Update the training for all cops. We must demand, on penalty of life in prison, that as soon as a threat is neutralized they must stop beating and tasing the suspect to death. This isn’t rocket science. They had him down, he had no weapons, he indicated he was in pain, he was in fear, he was apologizing, he was no longer a threat and still, they killed him.
Jay Cincinelli has been through hell being shot in the face, losing his eye, being shot multiple times… he is traumatized for life and has absolutely no business being on the street. The murder of Kelly Thomas is part of a cycle of violence we can probably trace back to whoever brutalized Raul Jimenez and made him an attempted cop killer. Not seeing this, not stopping the cycle is the fault of the person who put Cincinelli back out on the street with all that pain, rage and fear.
There are still plenty of good cops. I have one in my family. The acquittal in this case is not a win for cops. It makes their jobs much more dangerous because now people are angry at all cops for this.