"In Orange County, we generally trust our law enforcement — and with good reason," Rackauckas said. "I believe the law enforcement we have in Orange County is second to none."
But he added that authorities must work to protect the covenant between the community and law enforcement — "including prosecuting police officers if they violate the law."
Rackauckas cited numerous aspects of the case that made criminal charges inevitable. Thomas, who suffered from schizophrenia, was a well-known character in downtown Fullerton — indeed, Rackauckas said, Ramos knew Thomas from his patrols in the city.
The district attorney also said Thomas was clearly unarmed, non-combative and appeared confused by his interaction with police, who had been summoned to the depot to investigate reports of a man peering into car windows and pulling on the handles of parked cars.
Ramos repeatedly ordered Thomas to sit upright on a curb with his legs out straight and his hands on his knees. "I can't do both," Thomas told Ramos.
"Well, you're going to have to learn real quick," Ramos replied.
"It would be obvious to any reasonable observer that Kelly Thomas had cognitive issues and difficulty in following Ramos' instructions," Rackauckas said.
Rackauckas said the turning point in the confrontation came when Ramos threatened Thomas.
"He was going to hurt him for no apparent reason," Rackauckas said.
The turning point for Cicinelli, the district attorney said, came when the officer — after using his Taser four times on Thomas, once near Thomas' heart — began beating Thomas in the face with the device itself. Rackauckas called that behavior "gratuitous and unnecessary," and noted that the investigation showed that Thomas offered no response to those blows, indicating that he was "down and seriously injured."
"That is not 'protecting and serving,' " the district attorney said.
Rackauckas said the four other officers were not charged largely because they did not witness the exchange between Ramos and Thomas and were unaware that Ramos had issued threats.
Document: Read the district attorney's report
Photos: Kelly Thomas case
Times staff writers Nicole Santa Cruz and Andrew Blankstein contributed to this report.