Cops 'Not Guilty' In Beating, Tasering Death Of Mentally Ill Homeless Man

Video: (Caution, graphic) Security camera footage showing the police beating of Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man who later died from his injuries, at a Fullerton, California bus depot on the night of July 5, 2011. The altercation begins at 15:20.

Two former Fullerton, California, cops charged with killing a schizophrenic homeless man, Kelly Thomas, in 2011 were found not guilty of all charges today. Kelly Thomas' father, Ron Thomas, told the Los Angeles Times he is "stunned" by the verdict.

The officers not only beat Thomas beyond recognition and broke several of his ribs but also crushed his thorax, which basically made it impossible for him to breathe, and ultimately killed him. Despite these many injuries, Ramos' attorney -- who represented one of the LAPD officers involved in the beating of Rodney King -- told the LAT that Ramos and the other officers where trying "to use less force, not more," in beating Thomas to a pulp:

All told, six police officers with a combined 72 years on the force participated in the July 5 physical altercation at the Fullerton bus depot. Ramos was the first; according to Rackauckas' account. Ramos stood over a frightened and disoriented Thomas and made a show of snapping on latex gloves.

"See my fists?" Ramos asked Thomas.

"Yeah," Thomas replied. "What about them?"

"They are getting ready to f— you up."

"Start punching, dude," Thomas replied.

In the next nine minutes and 40 seconds, Thomas was tackled, hit with a baton, pinned to the ground, punched repeatedly in the ribs, kneed in the head, Tasered four times and then struck in the face with the Taser device eight times, Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said.

Any response from Thomas was "in self-defense, in pain and in panic," Rackauckas said.

According to an 11-week investigation, Thomas initially struggled, his screams echoing across the parking lot: "I can't breathe!" "I'm sorry, dude!" "OK, OK!" "Please!" "Dad, help me." But, Rackauckas said, the beating continued even after Thomas stopped struggling and screaming, even after blood began pooling around his body.


↓ Story continues below ↓

Hospital records showed that Thomas suffered brain injuries, a shattered nose, a smashed cheekbone, broken ribs and internal bleeding. The cause of death, Rackauckas said, was "mechanical compression of the thorax," basically being crushed and unable to breath. There were no traces of drugs or alcohol in his body. He died five days later after he was taken off life support.

Much of the evidence came from a recording device attached to Ramos' uniform, which all Fullerton officers wear. The investigation also included 151 witness interviews, seven surveillance videos and two videos recorded by witnesses on their cellphones.

After the not guilty verdict, Ramos' attorney, John Barnett, told reporters: "These peace officers were doing their jobs...they did what they were trained to do."

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said that prosecutors will not pursue charges against a third Fullerton officer charged in the Thomas case. That officer's trial was pending. "I don't intend to proceed with another trial when the two officers here were acquitted," he told reporters. The jury didn't even take a full day of deliberation to reach the not-guilty verdicts.

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.