Living in Southern California, I remember what a big story this case was. The video of the beating played repeatedly on TV and on the internet. It was horrible to watch, and still is. Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man, was stopped by two officers of the Fullerton Police Department. What followed is unbelievable, but true. Thomas died from the terrible beating he received.
Former Officer Manuel Ramos and ex-Corporal Jay Cicinelli were accused of causing the death of Thomas in a violent struggle in the Orange County college town. During the confrontation bystanders could be heard yelling at the police that “that’s enough,” “you’re killing him,” etc. The death of Thomas prompted angry protests and closely watched criminal proceedings. The video was recorded by a bystander, as well.
The coroner’s report stated that Thomas died from asphyxia due to chest compression (officers kneeling on his chest) and head and chest injuries during the struggle on July 5, 2010.
The OC Weekly blog describes it pretty accurately:
The footage–complete with an audio track–clearly showed the overweight Ramos hulking over a seated Thomas, placing latex gloves over his hands while speaking derisively to the homeless, schizophrenic man. At one point Ramos even threatened to beat up Thomas, who’s only crime was to have taken some discarded letters out of a trashcan.
The footage also showed Cicinelli repeatedly punching Thomas in the face with his taser, while other officers, including Ramos, sat on top of Thomas, who can be heard repeatedly crying for help, saying he can’t breathe, apologizing, and asking for his father.
Overlooking the comment by one of the officers, “You see these fists? They’re about to eff you up,” (only he did not say eff!) jurors declared the two not guilty.