Orange County DA charges Joseph Wolfe in Thomas death

Joshua Sudock, The Orange County Register, Pool photo

Surveillance video of the July 2011 altercation between Fullerton police officers and Kelly Thomas, 37, the homeless mentally ill man who later died of his injuries. Orange County prosecutors have charged former officer Joe Wolfe with involuntary manslaughter in Thomas' death. He is the third officer facing criminal charges in the incident.

Orange County prosecutors have charged another ex-Fullerton police officer Joseph Wolfe in the last year's beating death of Kelly Thomas.

Wolfe becomes the third former officer charged with beating the mentally ill homeless man to death in July 2011.

A surveillance video of the beating shows Wolfe swinging his police baton at Thomas' leg while other officers held him on the ground.

Wolfe is charged with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of excessive force. If convicted, he would face a maximum sentence of four years in state prison.

The indictment against Wolfe was handed down Monday, said prosecutors. Ten witnesses testified before the Orange County Grand Jury over three days, beginning Sept. 19

Wolfe pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana. He's being held on $25,000 bail, and will be in court Nov.2 for a pre-trial hearing before Judge William Froeberg.

Three other officers involved in the beating haven’t been charged. The Orange County District Attorney's office says it doesn’t have enough evidence yet to support cases against the three.

The beating occurred after officers went to the Fullerton Transportation Center after a 911 call from the Slidebar nightclub reported that someone was trying to break into cars outside the club.

Last week, Fullerton police cleared Thomas of any wrongdoing that may have prompted the altercation with officers.

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