Trial date set for ex-cops in beating death of homeless man (graphic image)

Joshua Sudock, pool photo, Orange County Register

Former Fullerton police officer Manuel Ramos (right) has been charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the beating death of Kelly Thomas.

Joshua Sudock, pool photo, Orange County Register

Ex-Fullerton police officer Jay Cicinelli (left) has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and assault under color of authority in the beating death of Kelly Thomas.

Joshua Sudock, pool photo, Orange County Register

A picture shows Kelly Thomas bloodied and unconscious after a confrontation with Fullerton police. He later died.


Editor's note: An image in the slideshow above, which was introduced into evidence, is graphic and shows Kelly Thomas in the hospital. It may be upsetting to some users.

An Orange County judge Monday scheduled jury selection to begin Nov. 12 for the trial of two former Fullerton police officers charged in the beating death of a homeless schizophrenic man.  

Kelly Thomas, 37, and the son of a former Orange County sheriff's deputy, was confronted by police about 8:30 p.m. July 5, 2011, outside the Fullerton Transportation Center. An alleged witness at a nearby business called police, saying someone was trying to break into parked cars.

Six responding officers confronted Thomas, and a fight broke out. Thomas subsequently was taken, bloodied and unconscious, to a hospital and placed on life support. He died five days later.

An autopsy showed that Thomas suffered broken bones in his face and compression injuries to his thorax, which made it hard for him to breathe. He choked to death on his own blood, and the cause of death was listed as asphyxia, the coroner's office found.

Sgt. Manuel A. Ramos, 39, who was charged in September 2011 with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, became the first police officer in county history to be accused of committing murder while in uniform and on duty. 

Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, 41, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and assault under color of authority.

Both officers were dismissed from the Fullerton Police Department.

A third officer, Joseph Wolfe, was indicted in September 2012 by an Orange County grand jury in connection with Thomas' death. Wolfe was charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of the use of excessive force. A hearing on his motion to dismiss the charges is pending.

Judge William Froeberg on Monday set an Oct. 18 court date to consider pretrial motions and to finalize a questionnaire for prospective jurors. 

Pretrial motions will be considered Nov. 4, and jury selection is scheduled for Nov. 12.

Opening statements are expected Nov. 18. Hundreds of jurors are expected to be screened for the trial, which could last into mid-January.

Video of the beating shows Ramos putting on latex gloves and asking Thomas, "Now see my fists? They are getting ready to f--- you up."     

Thomas was a fixture on the streets of Fullerton and had about 90 documented run-ins with police dating to 1990.

Orange County District Attorney Anthony Rackaukas wants Wolfe to be tried along with Ramos and Cicinelli. Earlier, Cicinelli unsuccessfully tried to get his trial severed from Ramos'.

Ramos could get 15 years to life in prison if convicted of murder; four years if convicted of involuntary manslaughter.  Cicinelli, who allegedly shocked Thomas with a Taser and then hit him in the face with it, faces up to four years in prison.

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