Kelly Thomas Trial: Tactics expert says use of Taser to strike Thomas was appropriate

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Defense testimony continued Tuesday in the trial of two former Orange County police officers charged in the death of a mentally ill, homeless man. The day's lone witness was a fellow officer who trained one of the defendants.

Fullerton police officer Stephen Rubio testified that he trained former colleague Jay Cicinelli on use of force and weapons tactics. Rubio told jurors in the 10th day of trial that Cicinelli's use of a Taser stun gun to strike Kelly Thomas in July 2011 was not what he called "out of policy" with use of force standards.   

Cicinelli and co-defendant Manuel Ramos are charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of Thomas, who died five days after a violent altercation with police outside the Fullerton Transportation Center. Ramos faces an additional count of second degree murder, and Cicinelli is also charged with using excessive force. 

Rubio said that at the time Cicinelli deployed his Taser during the fight, Thomas was not handcuffed and not under the control of the officers. 

Referring to a surveillance video tape of the beating, Rubio testified that instances where Cicinelli strikes Thomas' face and head with the Taser were consistent with the training he received.  

Rubio said that earlier in the video tape, profanity used by Ramos toward Thomas could have been a slight policy violation. But he said Ramos used the words, along with a threat to hit Thomas, in an effort to avoid a physical confrontation. 


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