The city surveillance video that shows a group of Fullerton police officers beating a homeless mentally ill man to death last year was finally released today, laying to rest any argument that Kelly Thomas was a threat to officers.
The shocking video, which was combined with an audio recorder worn by one of the police officers on the night of July 5, 2011, was shown in court today, then later released to the media.
“Now you see my fists?” Fullerton police officer Manny Ramos asked Thomas while slipping on a pair of latex gloves.
“Yeah, what about them?” Thomas responded.
“They are getting ready to fuck you up,” said Ramos, a burly cop who appears to outweigh Thomas by 100 pounds.
“Well, start punching,” Thomas responds, never once displaying any physical aggression towards Ramos.
Moments later, as Thomas is standing while Ramos is ordering him to get on his “fucking knees,” Fullerton cop Joseph Wolfe, who is not charged in the case, walks up and starts beating his legs with a baton.
Then Ramos gets into the act and Thomas takes off running, moving out of the frame of the camera.
The camera, operated by a dispatcher at the station, then moves toward the beating, showing Ramos and Fullerton cop Jay Cicinelli on top of Thomas as Thomas repeatedly apologizes and telling them he is unable to breathe.
The cops keep telling him to put his hands behind his back and lay on his stomach, but they are both laying on top of him, making it impossible to even breathe, much less move.
As the video continues, one of the cops can be seen kneeing him.
“Please, I can’t breathe,” Thomas pleads as the officers keep telling him to put his hands behind his “fucking back.”
The cops keep telling him to “relax” to which he responds, “I can’t, dude.”
More cops eventually arrive and a little more than four minutes into the video, they start tasing him.
And a little after five minutes into the video, as three cops are piled on top of him, beating him, tasing him, one cop looks up at another cop who just arrived on the scene and says, “help us.”
At one point he yells out, “Dad, they are killing me.”
Even after seven minutes into the video, when six cops are on top of him and all Thomas is doing is crying for his father, they keep telling him to “relax.”
Last year, Ron Thomas, a retired Orange County Sheriff’s deputy, said the City of Fullerton offered him $900,000 to just go away, which would have allowed the two cops to remain on the force unpunished for killing his son.
Thomas was pronounced dead on July 10, five days after the beating that left him in a coma.
The cops weren’t placed on administrative leave as is customary in a death of a suspect until August 2. And only because the community was outraged.
But it’s no doubt city and police officials watched the above video that same night. They even acknowledged allowing the officers to watch the video to complete their incident reports.
I guess we should be relieved they never destroyed the video as cops are so used to doing.
During today’s hearing, a crime scene investigator named Dawn Scruggs testifed that Ramos and Cicinelli were out of breath and in disbelief after killing him, apparently trying to sway the court into believing Thomas deserved to die.
But anybody who sees the video can see he did nothing to deserve the beating.
Ramos is being charged with second degree murder and faces up to 15 years in prison. Cicinelli is being charged with involuntary manslaughter and faces up to four years in prison.
It is extremely rare for any cop to receive prison time for their crimes.
In the photo below, Ramos demanded treatment for his injured elbow as Thomas lay dying a few feet from him.
While the above video is just over eight minutes long, a 33-minute video was shown to the court today. The other portions of the videos can be seen on this site.
According to the Associated Press:
The video ends with medics taking Thomas from a spot covered with a large bloodstain, while police gather their equipment and discussed the struggle.
“We ran out of options so I got the end of my Taser and I probably … I just start smashing his face to hell,” Cicinelli said, according to the transcript provided by prosecutors. “He was on something. Cause the three of us couldn’t even control him.”
Earlier in the day, Fullerton Fire Capt. Ron Stancyk testified that he found the shirtless, handcuffed Thomas lying on the ground. His skin was ashen, his hair and face bloody, and he was breathing slowly.
“Nothing was being done,” Stancyk, a Fullerton paramedic with 20 years of experience, told the court.
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CARLOS MILLER’S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.
My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.
So if you would like to contribute, please click on the “donate” button below and contribute whatever you can afford.
You can also contribute to my Legal Defense Fund by purchasing a photographer rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag.Please write “carlos3” in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.
Petition the Obama Administration
I’ve launched a petition insisting President Obama protect the rights of citizens to record police in public without fear of getting arrested. We need to get 25,000 signatures in less than a month for them to review it.
It takes only five minutes to register and sign, so it’s worth the effort even if it goes nowhere.
Also, in an unrelated PINAC matter, I recently went through a hair transplant operation and I’m documenting my recovery on this blog if you are interested.