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Kelly Thomas case is in the jury's hands

January 09, 2014|By Adolfo Flores

An Orange County jury has begun deliberating the fates of two former Fullerton police officers accused of killing a schizophrenic homeless man during a violent encounter at a city bus depot in 2011.

Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli are charged with striking Kelly Thomas with a baton and a stun gun in a beating that left the homeless man comatose. He died five days after the altercation.

The case went to the jury following Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas' rebuttal after three days of closing arguments. Rackauckas told jurors that the former officers had abused their authority on the July evening when they confronted Thomas.

“Good police officers don’t act in the manner depicted in this case,” Rackauckas said.

Ramos is facing second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges, while Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force under the color of authority.

The incident, which was captured on surveillance tape, was shown repeatedly during the trial, but each side drew different conclusions on what it actually showed.

Prosecutors said the video captured a real-time homicide with the officers beating a homeless man, even as he called out for help. Defense attorneys said it showed two policeman trying to restrain a violent suspect who possessed abnormal strength.

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.

If the jury doesn't reach a verdict Thursday, they will continue deliberating on Monday.

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adolfo.flores@latimes.com

Follow Adolfo Flores on Twitter.

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