Kelly Thomas case: Ex-cops charged in Thomas beating in court Friday

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Fullerton police officer Jay Cicinelli confers with his defense attorney, Michael D. Schwartz during a preliminary hearing for the death of Kelly Thomas.

Two of the former Fullerton police officers charged in the death of Kelly Thomas are due in a Santa Ana courtroom Friday for a pretrial hearing.

Former officer Manuel Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the beating and subsequent death of Thomas in July 2011. Former officer Jay Cicinelli faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force.

Both men have pleaded not guilty and are free on bail.

Defense attorneys have filed motions to dismiss the charges, with at least one attorney (John Barnett) arguing that Ramos was entitled to use force. He said Thomas could have avoided the confrontation by obeying the officers' commands.

The judge will likely set a date for a hearing to consider the dismissal motions.

The pretrial hearing follows the release of a third report on the Thomas beating in which independent investigator Michael Gennaco said Ramos unnecessarily escalated a casual encounter and transformed it into an incident “resulting in death.”

The report also notes the connection between homelessness and mental illness, and slams the officers for not considering schizophrenia as a possible cause of Thomas' ostinate reaction.

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