On July 5, 2011, Kelly Thomas, 37, was brutally beaten to death by six Fullerton, California, police officers. The horrific scene was captured entirely on surveillance camera, with even more haunting audio. Here we are, four years later, and there still has not been any justice for the unarmed, homeless, and schizophrenic man.
Thomas was beaten to death by the deranged Officers Jay Cicinelli, Manuel Ramos, Joe Wolfe, Kenton Hampton, James Blatney, and Sergeant Kevin Craig, at a bus depot after a manager at the nearby Slide Bar called police and claimed that he had been attempting to break into cars.
One of her own coworkers has publicly stated that the report was a lie, and that he was simply looking around the lot for cigarette butts he could get a few leftover drags from. The bar reportedly had a policy to remove vagrants from their property by any means necessary.
“Now you see these fists?” Ramos asked while snapping on a pair of latex gloves.
“Yeah, what about them?” Thomas asked.
“They are getting ready to fuck you up,” said the soulless Officer Ramos, before actually beating him to death.
During the nine minute long assault, Thomas is heard begging the officers for mercy while calling out for his father 31 times. He eventually succumbs to the violence and is left in the road dying. Thomas had not presented any threat to the officers prior to the assault.
“Dad help me.”, “God help me.”, “Help me. Help me. Help me.” Thomas is heard begging in his final words, captured on the video.
Medics who arrived on the scene were directed to treat a small scratch on Ramos’ elbow before they were even made aware that Thomas was dying in the gutter. He never regained consciousness and was removed from life support five days later.
In January of 2014, a jury, despite seeing the video, acquitted Officers Cicinelli and Ramos, the only two to stand trial, leading to massive protests throughout Orange County and across Southern California. Charges that were filed against a third officer, Wolfe, were subsequently dropped.
In a true slap in the face from law enforcement, the only people to have went to jail relating to his murder were people who were protesting it.
For the past four years, the Department of Justice has claimed they are investigating his death to determine if his civil rights were violated under the color of the law.
Despite having the entire scene captured on video, with audio, no federal charges have been filed.
This week, Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, which has jurisdiction in Orange County, told The Voice of OC that a federal civil rights investigation is “still under review. That’s about all I can say at this point.”
According to the Washington Post, in 2015, at least 92 people suffering from mental illness had been killed by police in the United States as of June.
In California, only six of the 664 hours which rookies spend in police academy basic training relates to individuals with disabilities. Those six hours cover disabilities ranging from developmental, to physical, and mental.
Following graduation from the police academy, California police are not required to receive any additional training for dealing with individuals who may require more care. According to one estimate, approximately 40% of officer-involved shootings in California involve people suffering from various forms of mental illness.
Crisis Intervention Training is offered in the state, but officers rarely choose to participate.
A study released last year by the American Psychiatric Association found that officers who undergo Crisis Intervention Training “had sizable and persisting improvements in knowledge, diverse attitudes about mental illnesses and their treatments, self-efficacy for interacting with someone with psychosis or suicidality, social distance stigma, de-escalation skills and referral decisions.”
Ramos and Cicinelli both lost their jobs with the department, and both officers have went on to coach little league. Cicinelli is now a mail carrier, and Ramos is doing remodeling work with his brothers.
Cicinelli has appealed his termination and will likely sue the city if his reinstatement to the force is denied.
Four long years, and still no justice.