Reports: 6 officers in Kelly Thomas death sent notices which include possible firing

Ron Thomas

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Ron Thomas is the father Kelly Thomas, who was beaten by police officers in Fullerton in 2011. Kelly died shortly after.

Several news organizations, citing unnamed sources, say the six Fullerton police officers involved in the beating of Kelly Thomas have been sent letters of intent. Thomas died shortly after the beating. The letters are considered the first part of a process in the possible termination of the officers.

Because the process is confidential under California state law, the Fullerton Police Department and the city of Fullerton could not release details or confirm the reports.

Fullerton police Officer Manuel Ramos and Cpl. Jay Cincinelli are facing trial in the altercation with Thomas last July 5 at the Fullerton Transportation Center.

Ramos is charged with second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter and Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive force under color of authority. Both remain free on bail and on unpaid leave from the Fullerton Police Department pending their arraignment next June.

Four other officers involved in the beating and subsequent death have not been charged, including Officer Joe Wolfe, seen in a security video using a baton during the struggle with Thomas.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has said the investigation into the actions of the other officers, including Wolfe, is continuing.

The letters reportedly sent to the officers evaluated the actions of each officer in the altercation, with recommendations including firing, reprimanding or clearing the officers for their role in the beating and subsequent death.

The letters stem from an investigation from attorney Michael Gennaco, who was hired by the City of Fullerton to produce several reports about the beating and subsequent death and how the city and police department responded.

Fullerton Acting Police Chief Dan Hughes said he reached his findings on the officers based on Gennaco’s internal affairs investigation.

In a news release, the Fullerton Police Department said personnel decisions affecting peace officers are confidential and the department will not comment on them.

“Generally, in police personnel investigations, no final decisions are made by the Chief of Police until a pre-disciplinary meeting is conducted pursuant to the California Supreme Court's decision in Skelly v. State Personnel Board,” Hughes said in a news release. "In a Skelly meeting, an officer has the opportunity to provide additional information for the Chief to consider prior to a final decision being made. Once the Skelly meeting has occurred, a final decision regarding the proposed discipline is made by the Chief. Thereafter, the decision may be appealed to the City Manager, then an arbitrator, and finally the City Council. The appeal proceedings are generally confidential as a matter of law as well.”

Gennaco said he couldn't comment to KPCC due to penal code. His third report, which will be public, is due next month.

Calls to the defense attorneys of Officer Ramos and Cpl. Cicinelli were not returned.

Kelly Thomas’ father, Ron Thomas, said he is aware the letters of intent have been sent out to the officers involved in the struggle with his son.

“They haven’t been fired. They haven’t been terminated. They can appeal,” said Thomas, who repeated his call for the Orange County district attorney to charge Officer Wolfe in connection with Ron Thomas's son’s death.

This story has been updated.

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