Featuring: Two Sides to a Story’s Coverage of Kelly Thomas Protest

February 9, 2014

2-hour video uploaded to youtube last night by Troy Turton

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Good morning:

Two Sides to a Story has been attending the demonstrations seeking justice for Kelly Thomas, the mentally ill (schizophrenia) and homeless young man who was suffocated and beaten to death by police officers at the Fullerton (CA) Transit Center.

The event was captured on video by a security camera and spliced together with audio recordings of the officers’s statements during the incident. The audio was captured by the body microphones that each officer was wearing.

Spliced together the recording of the incident lasted about 32 minutes.

The jury incredibly acquitted the officers.

Two Sides deserves accolades aplenty for her persistence and reporting.

Here are her comments about yesterday’s march in Hollywood.


It was a fun protest, though carnivalesque in the way that downtown Hollywood is – definitely a big city feel. At one point a limo stopped and some familiar young face peered out, took photos and waved. Some actor or musician, I think.

LAPD bicycle cops lined the streets sans riot gear, unlike the Fullerton PD, who remained invisible until they decided to put on their show of force. Most of the folks arrested in Fullerton have a hearing on February 18.

I left early tonight, just after a lot of the more peaceful protestors left. Kelly’s mom and dad each gave a speech and honored an LAPD police captain, who seemed friendly and supportive, or at least trying to be, considering LAPD’s bad record and all the “jail killer cops” chanting.

Anonymous and the young anarchists in black were cranking up after the hippies and mainstream folks left, and last I saw them, they were, baiting cops and spoiling for a fight. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone got arrested later on.


Here’s what the protest looked like from a distance. Far from being 5000 souls, but there may have been about 500 during the first two hours. We were allowed to march up Hollywood Blvd for a few blocks and then back to this spot near Hollywood and Vine.


Oh, just remembered – they made the police chief or captain an honorary member of Kelly’s Army – that was interesting.

I should be saving these photos and pasting them to place everyone can see them – too tired. Easier to look for some other links.


Here’s a CBS video with a few details about the protest – many of these protestors are involved in going all over the state and trying to raise awareness about police brutality.

Citizen journalism via the internet is an extremely powerful tool to use in uncovering and seeking justice for criminal acts and official corruption.

To The Jury in the Kelly Thomas Case

January 16, 2014

posted by Crane-Station

Absurd and indefensible acquittal in Kelly Thomas case

January 13, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

Good evening:

An Orange County jury today found former Fullerton police officers, Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli, not guilty of beating Kelly Thomas to death at the Fullerton Transportation Center, despite a 33-minute video of the murder recorded by a nearby security camera supplemented by audio recorded by their body microphones.

This verdict is absurd and indefensible.

Whether by mistake or by deliberate act, the prosecutors in Trayvon’s and Kelly’s cases permitted cops to testify as experts on the use of force and to express their opinions that Zimmerman in Trayvon’s case and Ramos and Cicinelli in Kelly’s case acted reasonably and did not use excessive force.


In both cases, the prosecutors did not object to the question and move to strike the answer until the following day.

In both cases the judges sustained the objection and instructed the jury to disregard the answer.

But that didn’t unring the bell.

Kelly Thomas: Whatever you do to the least of my brothers…

January 13, 2014

A jury in Santa Ana has found two former murderous sadistic evil foul inhumane vile despicable former police officers totally in the right for beating a mentally ill homeless man to death as he begged for his father and for his life. Here is the film:

There are only so many words one can drag from the vocabulary to describe how horrific this crime was, and how equally vile and despicable the jury is for endorsing such a brutal act of senseless, cruel and depraved violence.

I do not care to read beyond the headline. Instead, I would like to picture Kelly as he was in life:

Kelly Thomas under flickr, attribution creative commons

To Kelly’s Father, and Mother, Ron and Kathy, and to Kelly’s extended family, my husband and I and countless others who read this are heartbroken. We want you to know that we are so so sorry. We are also absolutely furious. How does one accept the unacceptable? We do not know. But just because some verdict happened somehow in our broken court system means nothing in a system outside of the courts and inside our hearts, that we consider to be one of humanity, and that is what matters.

posted by Crane-Staion

Kelly Thomas case goes to the jury today

January 9, 2014

Thursday, January 9, 2013

Good afternoon:

The Kelly Thomas case will be going to the jury later today after Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, concludes his rebuttal argument.

The centerpiece of this case is a 33-minute videotape of the encounter between between police and Kelly Thomas. The video was recorded without sound by a security camera at the Fullerton Transportation Center where the encounter occurred. Audio recorded from body microphones worn by the police officers was added to the video to produce the exhibit used in court. The encounter was precipitated by a 911 call reporting a suspicious person attempting to break into parked vehicles.

There is no evidence that Thomas was the suspicious person.

Thomas lost consciousness, was hospitalized, and died five days later without regaining consciousness.

The two defendants are Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli. Both were fired by the Fullerton Police Department after the incident.

Ramos is charged with second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force.

Adolfo Flores of the LA Times sets the scene:

Rackauckas said Ramos was a bully who wanted to hurt Thomas, and Cicinelli crossed the line when he used his stun gun to hit the mentally ill homeless man in the face.

Orange County’s top prosecutor focused on what he said was a turning point in Thomas’ encounter with the police: Ramos slipping on a pair of latex gloves as he tells Thomas, “See these fists?…. They’re getting ready to —- you up.”

Rackauckas said Ramos’ threatening words and provocative actions turned a routine police encounter into a crime scene. The prosecutor said that once the officer threatened Thomas, the homeless man had a right to defend himself.

In the video, Thomas can be seen standing up and backing away from Ramos. Within seconds, Ramos and another officer begin swinging their batons at him.

Cicinelli can be seen arriving at the scene as the two officers struggled with Thomas on the ground. The video shows Cicinelli using his Taser multiple times to stun Thomas and then finally smacking the homeless man in the face with it.

“I just probably smashed his face to hell,” Cicinelli is heard saying after the struggle.

A photograph of Thomas’s face confirms what he said.

The prosecution’s theory of the case, which is supported by the medical examiner who performed the autopsy, is that Thomas died as a result of the beating and an inability to breathe caused by officers sitting on him and placing him in restraints.

The defense theory of the case is that the officers acted reasonably in response to Thomas’s resistance to their authority and his use of force. Defense counsel presented the testimony of several witnesses, including some members of his family, who testified that he had assaulted them in the past.

The defense presented the testimony of Steven Karch, a forensic pathologist, who testified that he died of heart failure due to an enlarged heart caused by the prolonged use of methamphetamine.

However, no trace of any drugs was found in his blood and the prosecution rebutted the defense expert with the testimony of Dr. Matthew Budoff, the program director for cardiology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. He testified that CAT scans and X-rays of Thomas’s heart showed that it was normal with no evidence of heart failure.

Neither defendant testified.

Murder requires proof of malice aforethought whereas proof of manslaughter does not.

Malice can be actual or implied and the prosecution has accused Manuel Ramos of acting with implied malice, or extreme recklessness. To prove that Ramos acted with implied malice, the prosecutor must show that Ramos committed (1) an unlawful act resulting in dangerous consequences, and (2) he knew about the danger of the acts, yet consciously and deliberately disregarded the danger to human life.

In People v. Watson, 30 Cal. 3d 290 (1981) the California Supreme Court defined implied malice as a subjective determination that the defendant in fact realized that his actions had “a high probability … [of] … resulting in death … [and yet acted] with a base antisocial motive and with a wanton disregard for human life.” However, the prosecution does not need to prove that the defendant intended to kill.

Manslaughter is an unlawful killing without malice. If the jury were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the murder charge against Manuel Ramos because the jurors could not unanimously agree that the prosecution had proven that he acted with malice, which seems unlikely given his statement to Thomas, as he was putting on his latex gloves, that he was going to f… him up, it would then consider the manslaughter charge.

Jay Cicinelli probably was not charged with murder because his statement about smashing Thomas’s face to hell was uttered after he did it. His after-the-fact statement makes it more difficult to discern his intent than is the case with Ramos’s statement before the assault began.

Ramos’s lawyer argued that the statement was merely a warning regarding what would happen, if Thomas disobeyed.

Whether the jury acquits or convicts the defendants ultimately depends on whether the jurors unanimously agree that the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant officers were using excessive force that resulted in Kelly Thomas’s death. I believe the video certainly establishes that.

I cannot predict what Anthony Rackauckas will say today, so I will repeat what he said at the conclusion of his opening argument.

Adolfo Flores and Paloma Esquivel of the LA Times described it as follows:

The final words of a 37-year-old homeless man filled the packed Orange County courtroom.

“Dad help me.”

“God help me.”

“Help me. Help me. Help me.”

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas let Kelly Thomas’ voice provide an emotional undertone to his closing arguments Tuesday in a widely watched criminal case against a pair of Fullerton police officers accused of killing the homeless man in a furious beating on a summer night in 2011.

“I don’t know about you,” Rackauckas told jurors, “but I can’t recall ever hearing such pleas. Such crying. Such begging for his life. Ever.”


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Trial resumes today in Kelly Thomas case with final arguments expected this week

January 6, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014

Good morning:

Trial resumes today in the Kelly Thomas case after a two-week break for the holidays. The prosecution is presenting its rebuttal case and will be calling Dr. Matthew Budoff, a cardiologist at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center who will testify that Thomas died from injuries inflicted by police during a beating and not, as claimed by the defense, from an enlarged heart weakened by many years of methamphetamine abuse.

Previous testimony has established that he did not have any drugs in his system and that he was apologizing to officers and complaining that he could not breathe as they continued to sit on him and beat him with a baton and a taser.

The beating was recorded by a security camera.

Thomas went into a coma and died five days later in a hospital without regaining consciousness.

Manuel Ramos is charged with second degree murder and Jay Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter. The former police officers were fired by the Fullerton Police Department after the incident.

Final arguments are expected this week.

For more information, go here to read Adolfo Flores’s article today in the LA Times. He has been covering the case for the paper.


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Jury in Kelly Thomas case will be instructed to disregard police testimony that defendants did not violate use-of-force policies

January 5, 2014

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Good morning:

Adolfo Flores of the LA Times is reporting that the Kelly Thomas case will be submitted to the jury this week with an unusual instruction that orders them to disregard opinion testimony by Corporal Stephen Rubio and Sergeant Kevin Craig of the Fullerton Police Department.

Rubio, a former use-of-force trainer with the department, testified that the amount of force used by defendants Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli to subdue and arrest Kelly Thomas did not violate departmental policies regarding use of force.

Craig testified that, because Thomas continued to struggle, Ramos and Cicinelli did not use excessive force when they continued to sit on him ignoring his apologies to officers and his pleas that he could not breathe.

This evidence was elicited by the defense and opened the door to permit the prosecution to introduce evidence rebutting their testimony. Because both officers were fired after an internal investigation of the Thomas incident, the prosecution filed a motion seeking production of the confidential personnel and internal investigation files of both officers.

Judge William Froeberg granted the motion and ordered the department, which is represented by the City of Fullerton, to release relevant portions of the files. The city appealed and the Court of Appeals affirmed his order late last week.

You can read my analysis of the legal issue here.

The relevant portions of the files are not going to be introduced into evidence probably because they are hearsay and represent irrelevant opinions by others regarding the conduct of the two officers. I use the word “irrelevant” because their use of force in this criminal case must be judged by the California statutes and not some departmental rule or regulation. Even if the language were the same, the hearing examiner’s decision would not be binding on the jury.

I believe Judge Froeberg probably should have sustained objections to questions by defense counsel seeking to elicit the opinions of the two officers (I am assuming the prosecution objected in timely fashion). Now that the problem created by their irrelevant testimony is in focus, I think he has decided that the best way to deal with it is to order the jury to disregard the opinions of the two officers.

The other alternative would be to grant a mistrial, but that would be dangerous solution because the Double Jeopardy Clause might prohibit a retrial.

Although orders to disregard evidence can create an unringing-the-bell problem, I have found that juries do abide by them. Therefore, I believe Judge Froeberg’s solution to cure the error in admitting the irrelevant opinion evidence of the two officers will work.

The prosecution has one more witness to call before resting its rebuttal case.

Here’s Adolfo Flores of the LA Times,

Prosecutors are expected to call Dr. Matthew Budoff, a cardiologist at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, to the stand Monday morning to testify that Thomas didn’t die as a result of an enlarged heart.

Defense lawyers have argued and presented evidence to show that Thomas died not because of chest compressions during his struggle with police, but because he had a bad heart from prior drug use.

We should see final arguments this week, assuming that the defense will not present surrebuttal evidence. That means the jury should get the case before the end of the week.


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