Kelly Thomas Trial (updated): Former cops found not guilty in beating case

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Update: 6:44 p.m.: Former cops found not guilty in beating case

Two former Fullerton police officers were found not guilty of beating to death a mentally ill, homeless man, a jury found on Monday in Orange County Superior Court.

Jurors found Manuel Ramos, 39, and Jay Cicinelli, 41, not guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Kelly Thomas, who died unconscious in a hospital five days after he was involved in a violent altercation with officers outside a Fullerton transit station on July 5, 2011.

Jurors also found Ramos not guilty of second-degree murder and acquitted Cicinelli of an additional count of using excessive force. 

"It just isn't fair at all," Thomas' mother Cathy told reporters later. "They murder my son and get away with it."

"Inside we're all just torn up," said Thomas' father, Ron.

Ramos and Cicinelli still face a wrongful death civil lawsuit that Ron Thomas last year filed against them and the other officers involved in the altercation.  

Ron Thomas said he also hoped the U.S. Department of Justice would consider filing charges.

In 2011, the FBI opened an investigation to determine if Kelly Thomas' civil rights had been violated during the altercation with Fullerton police officers.

In a statement, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said, "With the conclusion of the state court trial, investigators will examine the evidence and testimony to determine if further investigation is warranted at the federal level."

Ramos and Cicinelli bowed their heads and wept when the verdicts were read. Cicinelli shared a long embrace with his attorney Michael Schwartz.

Ramos' defense attorney John Barnett said his client was "relieved" by the verdicts.

"These peace officers were doing their jobs," Barnett said.  "They were operating as they were trained and they had no malice in their hearts.  They were not out to get somebody that night."

Jurors began deliberations Thursday afternoon and had Friday off. They returned to the jury room Monday morning and reached their verdict sometime before 3 p.m. 

In remarks following the verdict, Orange County District Atty. Tony Rackauckas acknowledged his case fell short of the burden of proof. 

"The jury decided that the conduct was not so unreasonable to be a violation of the law," he said. 

Rackauckas also said he doesn't intend to prosecute a third officer, Joseph Wolfe, who was indicted by an Orange County grand jury in connection with Thomas' death. Wolfe has been charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of the use of excessive force. 

"I do not intend to proceed with another trial when the two officers here were acquitted," Rackauckas said. 

The trial lasted less than three weeks and revolved largely around which interpretation of a 34-minute surveillance video that captured the altercation jurors believed most. Prosecutors said the video showed officers used excessive force during the struggle. But defense attorneys said the video depicted the officers' actions as appropriate under the circumstances. 

A phalanx of Orange County sheriff's deputies lined the courtroom before the verdicts were delivered.

"Before I read the verdicts, I have a couple of announcements," Judge William Froeberg said. "I'm going to ask that you respect the jurors and the attorneys. Please respect the jury decision whatever it may be. For security reasons, I'm going to ask that you remain in your seats until the jury is excused. Among other lessons we've learned in this trial is that violence begets violence."

Kelly Thomas' mother Cathy began sobbing as the verdicts were read. 

Following the verdict, Fullerton Chief of Police Dan Hughes issued the following statement: 

"We respect the jury's verdict, and appreciate the consideration the jury gave to the evidence. We understand that there may be a wide variety of reactions to the verdict and encourage anybody who wishes to express their feelings to do so respectfully."

3:15 p.m.: Jurors reach verdict in beating case

A verdict has been reached in the case of two former Fullerton police officers charged with beating to death a mentally ill, homeless man.

Officials with Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana sent out an announcement that court would be reconvening at 3:30 p.m. so that jurors can deliver their verdict in the trial of Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli.

The men are charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the July 2011 death of Kelly Thomas. Ramos faces an additional count of second-degree murder, and Cicinelli is also charged with using excessive force.

Kelly Thomas died five days after a violent altercation caught on video tape out a Fullerton transit station.

Jurors began deliberations Thursday. 

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