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In yet another travesty of justice involving police use of force against the mentally ill, two former Fullerton police officers were found not guilty in the death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man diagnosed with schizophrenia. Kelly was severely beaten on July 5th, 2011 by Manuel Ramos and Jay Cincinelli, the two men on trial, and others on the force. He died five days later.

This verdict comes a week after a teenager having a schizophrenic episode was shot and killed in horrible circumstances - three presumably physically fit police officers claimed they could not subdue a boy weighing 100 pounds wielding a small screwdriver; after allegedly saying "We don't have time for this." one of them killed him.

The Kelly jury watched a tape of the entire incident, and listened to expert witnesses contest Kelly's cause of death.

The coroner's office determined that Thomas died of brain damage from lack of oxygen caused by chest compression and other injuries suffered during his struggle with police.

Defense attorneys suggested that Thomas' death could be tied to a diseased heart damaged by prior drug use.

The jury deliberated for approximately ten hours before delivering it's verdict, beginning its deliberations on January 10th, with a break over the weekend.

The circumstances of Thomas' death enraged the residents of Fullerton, CA, so much so that large protests took place took place in the weeks following and three City Council members were ultimately recalled. A civil lawsuit brought by Kelly's mother was settled for $1,000,000. (A lawsuit by Kelly's father, Ron Kelly, is still ongoing.)

Some have predicted that a not-guilty verdict would unleash another round of protest in Fullerton; that prediction will be tested in the next several days.

4:11 PM PT: Some links to my previous coverage of the trial:

The Prosecution Rests.

The Defense Rests.

4:13 PM PT:

4:19 PM PT:


4:25 PM PT:

4:29 PM PT:

4:32 PM PT:

4:39 PM PT:

Originally posted to jpmassar on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 03:59 PM PST.

Also republished by Police Accountability Group, Trial Watch, and Support the Dream Defenders.

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