A preliminary hearing got underway Monday morning in the Kelly Thomas beating death case, with Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas introducing evidence — 139 exhibits that include photos, video, batons and a taser.
The first witness in the preliminary hearing that is expected to last two days was Fullerton Police Department Crime Scene Investigator Dawn Scruggs, who took photos of the officers injured at the scene and of victim Kelly Thomas.
She identified a yellow taser with blood on it, and photos of Thomas at the UC Irvine Medical Center, which, when shown in the courtroom, brought audible sighs and tears from Thomas' friends and family. Scruggs also took pictures of scrapes and cuts on several officers.
Scruggs said that when she questioned Officer Manuel Ramos, who is one of two officers charged in the case, he was "in disbelief over what just happened." Scruggs quoted Ramos as saying, "It was the fight of my life. I've never had anybody fight me like that before." Corporal Jay Cicinelli, has also been charged. The pair have pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and other charges.
Fullerton Fire Department Capt. Ron Stancyk, a paramedic who arrived on the scene early, took the witness stand next. When he first saw Thomas, he was "handcuffed in front, there was a large amount of blood, he had an ashen color, breathing slow and was leaning against an officers leg." He testified that Thomas "stopped breathing before we moved him to the ambulance."
Stancyk also said Thomas' heart stopped during the ambulance ride to the St. Jude Medical Center, the first hospital he was taken to.
He said that Thomas never regained consciousness or showed motion or movement from the bus depot in Fullerton to St. Jude's and then the UC Irvine Medical Center.
As the hearing continues Monday afternoon, the prosecutor is expected to show security video taken during the beating.
Follow KPCC's Ed Joyce on Twitter for updates from today's preliminary hearing.