A homeless man jury case has ended with 2 police officers being acquitted by a California jury of manslaughter and second-degree murder charges this week. The cops had been accused of brutally beating and killing a homeless schizophrenic man. Although a third officer may have been present, charges against him were not followed. UPI News tells the details on this difficult decision this Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.
The homeless man jury trial took place in Orange County this month, and ultimately found police officer Jay Cicinelli found not guilty of excessive use of force and involuntary manslaughter, with partner Manuel Ramos acquitted of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges. The fatal beating itself took place back in July of 2011, with the victim being homeless man Kelly Thomas.
Surveillance video of the disturbing beating was presented to jury members several times throughout the trial. Onlookers could see the 2 cops approach Kelly Thomas while he was standing at a busy bus depot.
Prosecutors alleged that their take on the shocking video was one in which both police officers were blatantly taking advantage of their authority as defenders of the law, choosing to violently beat Thomas with a baton and using a stun gun, even while he tried calling for help. The defense team, however, responded that the 2 men were simply hoping to stop Thomas as the schizophrenic homeless man continued to struggle against them, even after they ordered him to cease and desist.
Thomas was put into a coma after the violent encounter. He died in under a week due to severe damage incurred to his brain and an overall lack of oxygen initially caused by a deep chest compression.
The not guilty verdict found in the homeless man jury trial did not even take an entire day of official deliberation. While some were happy with seeing the 2 police officers acquitted, others were devastated at the decision.
"They got away with murdering my son," said Cathy Thomas on her loved one as a victim. "He was so innocent. It just isn't fair at all."
"I've never seen such a miscarriage of justice," Ron Thomas, Kelly's father, added. "It's so blatant. It means none of us are safe."
Yet a defense attorney disagreed.
"These peace officers were doing their jobs," said defense attorney John Barnett for Ramos, one of the accused. "They did what they were trained to do."