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Fullerton police protesters demand justice for Kelly Thomas

Law EnforcementCrime, Law and JusticeJustice System

When Tina Kinser showed up at the Fullerton police station Saturday morning she had a flashback to the summer of 2011.

Almost everything seemed the same. The demands for justice blaring out of bullhorns. The people holding signs with pictures of her brother's bloodied face. And the way the crowd of protesters swelled so big it spilled onto Commonwealth Avenue.

"It looks just like the protest I came to two years ago," said Kinser, the youngest sister of Kelly Thomas, the homeless man with schizophrenia who died after being beaten unconscious by Fullerton police officers. "It's the same faces."

But this protest was more painful, she said. This time there wasn't something to channel her hope toward. It had dried up in a Santa Ana courtroom last week, she said, when a jury found former Fullerton police officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli not guilty.

Thomas' case, which Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas argued himself in court, was the first in Orange County’s history that involved an officer facing murder charges for on-duty actions.

"We still have no justice," Kinser said. "I'm still here crying."

Kinser was among about 150 protesters who gathered for a rally Saturday morning in front of the Fullerton Police Department to demand justice for Thomas.

For some, like 22-year Fullerton resident Julie McDonnell, showing up Saturday was a way to say that the jury's verdict wouldn't dampen people's cries for justice.

"We did lose this battle," she said. "But we're not going to stop fighting for change in Fullerton and across the country."

Others, like Curtis Johnston, said they showed up because they've already seen the power of protests in Fullerton.

"In most cities where something like this happens, the officers are back on the job in a few weeks," he said. "Not in this city."

The trial of Ramos and Cicinelli played out for nearly three weeks, but the jury deliberated just two days, handing down their verdict on Monday.

The verdict led to a rallying cry by an organization that calls itself A California Campaign to STOP Police Brutality.

“We do not accept a NOT GUILTY verdict in the murder of Kelly Thomas! We DEMAND the murderers to be imprisoned or FULLERTON will continue to feel the wrath of the people,” read the Facebook page that promoted the Fullerton protest.

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marisa.gerber@latimes.com

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