Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
September 21, 2011
Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
OCDA CHARGES TWO FULLERTON POLICE OFFICERS FOR THE BEATING-DEATH OF 37-YEAR-OLD HOMELESS MAN
SANTA ANA – Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Tony Rackauckas filed charges this morning against two police officers from the Fullerton Police Department (FPD) for their criminal participation in the beating-death of a homeless man, 37-year-old Kelly Thomas.
Officer Manuel Ramos is charged with one felony count of second degree murder and one felony count of involuntary manslaughter. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison if convicted. Corporal Jay Cicinelli is charged with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of the use of excessive force. He faces a maximum sentence of four years in state prison if convicted.
The defendants surrendered this morning to OCDA Investigators and will be arraigned today, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011, at 2:00 p.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. Per the statutory bail amounts, the People will request $1 million bail for Ramos and $25,000 bail for Cicinelli.
Due to a lack of evidence, as described below, criminal charges were not filed against the remaining four officers involved in the incident including Officer Joseph Wolfe, Officer Kenton Hampton, Sergeant Kevin Craig, and Corporal James Blatney.
REMARKS BY DISTRICT ATTORNEY RACKAUCKAS
“During the pendency of this investigation, we have heard over and over again the word ‘justice.’ In order to make sure that 'justice’ was done, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office was entrusted with the task of investigating this case and getting to the truth. Our Office took this responsibility faithfully and seriously. We executed the task thoroughly and efficiently.”
“In Orange County, we generally trust our law enforcement - and with good reason. I believe the law enforcement we have in Orange County is second to none. We must do everything we can to make sure we protect that trust, including prosecuting police officers if they violate the law.”
“We simply cannot accept that in our community it is within a police officer’s right to place gloves on his hands, show his fists to a detainee, and threaten that he will F him up. That is not protecting and serving.
Ramos had to know that he was creating a situation where Kelly Thomas feared for his life and was struggling to get away from an armed police officer who was going to F him up. Ramos had to know other officers would come to his aid and Kelly Thomas was going to get hurt – badly hurt.
This conduct that I just described is unacceptable. It falls far short of the professional, reasonable police conduct our community has every right to expect, and do receive from thousands of police officers who risk their lives for us every day in Orange County.
All people in this great country of ours have a constitutional right to be free from the imposition of unlawful and excessive force under the color of law. That is the rule of law, and we will proceed to enforce it.”