One of the former Fullerton police officers acquitted in the beating death of Kelly Thomas now wants immunity from possible federal prosecution before he speaks with lawyers in a pending wrongful-death suit.
Manuel Ramos, a former city patrolman who was accused of murder in the 2011 death of the homeless man, is set to be deposed April 15 in a wrongful-death suit filed by Thomas’ father.
But federal prosecutors are also looking into Thomas’ death, though the U.S. Justice Department has not said whether it would try to prosecute Ramos or any of the other former officers in the beating case.
The motion for immunity includes a declaration by Fullerton Police Sgt. Michael Chocek that says the sergeant spoke Feb. 6 with a federal agent who told him the Justice Department had met with Orange County prosecutors and requested their files of the investigation into the death of Kelly Thomas.
Federal agent Efren Delgado also asked for portions of the transcripts of the criminal trial, the motion said.
Chocek is a liaison between the Fullerton Police Department and the Orange County district attorney’s office.
Because of the potential for being prosecuted by the federal government, Ramos filed a motion on March 20 asking for immunity regarding any statements he made during the deposition about his violent confrontation with Kelly.
If Ramos isn’t granted immunity, he likely will ask a judge to limit the scope of questioning.
Ramos' attorney said that subjecting Ramos to questioning about what happened the night of Thomas’ death would essentially violate the former officer’s 5th Amendment rights.