Kelly Thomas beating trial: Preliminary hearings scheduled to start

Handcuffed Fullerton police officer Manuel Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter for the death of Kelly Thomas.
Handcuffed Fullerton police officer Manuel Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter for the death of Kelly Thomas. Pool/Getty Images

The Fullerton police officers charged in the beating death of a mentally ill homeless man are scheduled to appear in a Santa Ana courtroom on Monday.

Fullerton police officer Manuel Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Kelly Thomas, while corporal Jay Cicinelli faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force.

Both officers have pleaded not guilty to the charges and have been free on bail.

Several police confronted 37-year-old Kelly Thomas at the Fullerton Transportation Center last July, saying they suspected him of burglarizing cars. As they tried to arrest him, a handful of officers began to beat Thomas. Five days later, he died from his injuries.

Susan Schroeder with the Orange County District Attorney’s office says DA Tony Rackauckas will be personally involved in the preliminary hearing — the sort of hearing typically handled by one of his deputies.

Schroeder also says it’s the first time in Orange County history a police officer faces a preliminary hearing on a murder charge for actions that happened while on duty and in uniform.

Rackauckas and defense attorneys plan to question witnesses in the case during the hearing, according to Schroeder.

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