As the not-guilty verdicts were read for two former Fullerton police officers, Kelly Thomas’ father leaned back in his seat and shook his head.
“I just don’t get it,” Ron Thomas said, moments after an Orange County jury acquitted former police officers Manual Ramos and Jay Cicinelli in the beating of his son, who died five days later. “I’ve never seen such a miscarriage of justice.”
“They got away with murdering my son,” Cathy Thomas said.
Ramos had been facing second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges, and Cicinelli was charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force under the color of authority.
The jury deliberated about eight hours before reaching the verdict. The case was prosecuted by Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas.
As the verdict was read, Ramos and Cicinelli wept and hugged their attorneys. Audience members inside the courtroom -- many wearing yellow ribbons that read “Justice for Kelly Thomas” -- were visibly upset.
The verdict offers a conclusion to a more than two-year saga that resulted in the rare move of charging an officer with an on-duty death and the ouster of city officials.
But it was a 33-minute surveillance video, synced with audio from recorders worn by officers, of Thomas’ clash with police that helped fuel public outcry.
People crammed Fullerton meetings to reprimand or shout at city leaders. Eventually officials’ response to the incident led to the ouster of three City Council members and the retirement of Fullerton’s chief of police.
Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said prosecutors would not pursue charges against a third officer accused in the case. That officer’s trial was pending.
“I don’t intend to proceed with another trial when the two officers here were acquitted,” he told reporters.