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Officers acquitted in beating death of California homeless man Kelly Thomas

According to CNN on Monday, a jury has acquitted two former Fullerton, Calif. police officers in the beating death of Kelly Thomas, a mentally handicapped homeless man.

The two former officers were accused of striking Kelly Thomas with a baton and a stun gun in a beating that left him in a coma. He died five days later.

The beating of Thomas in a transit parking lot was recorded by security cameras on the night of July 5, 2011. The surveillance camera footage shows Thomas being beaten, clubbed and stunned with a Taser by police. The video sparked a nationwide outcry.

The jury, made up of eight women and four men, started deliberations last Thursday.

Manuel Ramos, 39, was acquitted of second-degree murder, as well as an alternate lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter, that can be charged when unreasonable force in self-defense results in death.

A second former officer, Jay Cicinelli, 41, was acquitted of both involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force. Ramos faced a possible life sentence, while Cicinelli faced up to four years on the most serious charge.

Following the acquittals local prosecutors announced that a pending case against a third officer would be dismissed.

Outside the courtroom, Thomas’ parents said they were stunned by the verdict and said the defendants had gotten away with murder.

Federal investigators may reenter the case of Thomas. The Fifth Amendment prohibition of double jeopardy in criminal cases does not preclude a federal prosecution of the officers involved. Double jeopardy prevents the same authorities from reprosecuting a case on the same charges.

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Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner.

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