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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

Fullerton Police Officer Free on $1-million Bail [Updated]

If convicted Ramos can face up to 15 years in prison.

Officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli. (Orange County District Attorney's Office)
Officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli. (Orange County District Attorney's Office)

[Updated | Sept. 29, 9:24 a.m. PDT: Fullerton police officer Manuel Ramos is out of jail Thursday, according to the Orange County Jail's inmate-locator website. Ramos posted $1-million bail shortly after midnight.]

Two Fullerton police officers were charged last Wednesday in the deadly beating of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill Fullerton homeless man.

Ramos plead not guilty last Monday to charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. 

Officer Jay Cicinelli is also charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter and another count of excessive force.

[Updated | Sept. 29, 4:40 p.m. PDT: Ramos and Cicinelli will be put on unpaid administrative leave as of Oct. 8, Fullerton Acting Police Chief Kevin Hamilton announced Thursday.]

Ramos and Cicinelli turned themselves in and appeared in a downtown Santa Ana courtroom last Wednesday. Cicinelli pleaded not guilty to both charges and was released earlier on $25,000 bail.

Orange County District Attorney, Tony Rackauckas, said at a press conference that Ramos repeatedly beat Thomas during his arrest and Cicinelli reportedly Tased Thomas eight times in the face.

Prosecutors said Thomas seemed to be acting "in self-defensive, in pain and in a state of panic."

The incident began when police tried to search Thomas' bag at a bus station in Fullerton on July 5. A struggle followed when the police attempted to arrest Thomas for investigation of stolen goods.

Thomas suffered severe head and neck injuries from the beating. He was put on life support, but then was taken off five days after. Thomas' medical records show that he suffered broken bones in his face, was repeatedly shocked with two stun guns and choked on his own blood.

Thomas suffered from schizophrenia and lived on the streets despite the fact that he had family and friends supporting him.

The entire incident was filmed on an eyewitness' cell phone who was standing at a distance. In the video, Thomas can be heard screaming and parts of the bloody encounter can be seen.

If convicted, Ramos could face 15 years in prison. Cicinelli faces up to four years maximum in prison.

In total, six Fullerton police officers were placed on paid adminstrative leave after the incident. Rackauckas did not indicate if the four other officers will face charges at this time.

Thomas' father, Ron Thomas, has filed claims seeking damages from the city.

Rackauckas said at the press conference that the biggest shame of the incident was that it did not have to happen and it should not have happened.



Video by Jennifer Kendall


More bad apples in government. Makes us good apples look bad.

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