Kelly Thomas: Fullerton loses bid to keep officers’ files secret
Fullerton must turn over portions of the personnel files of two former officers charged in the death of Kelly Thomas after losing an appeal to keep details of the police department’s investigation into the incident private.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal on Tuesday upheld a judge’s decision to release the confidential files.
The Orange County district attorney’s office filed a motion to view the files for Manual Ramos and Jay Cicinelli to rebut a Fullerton police officer’s testimony that he saw no department violations in the video of the officers’ clash with Thomas in 2011.
“The people have a good faith belief that the administrative records will contain evidence of violations of departmental policy,” wrote Keith Bogardus, senior deputy district attorney, in a motion.
Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter; Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force.
Thomas, who was taken off life support, died five days after his struggle with police. After the incident, the Fullerton police chief left the department and three of five city council members were recalled.
Last week, Orange County Superior Court Judge William Froeberg ordered that the records sought by prosecutors should be handed over. He is expected to hear arguments Friday before ruling whether the material can be shared with the jury.
Gregory Palmer, a Fullerton city attorney, declined to comment.
Ramos and Cicinelli were no longer employed by the department as of July 2012. The city has declined to say if the officers resigned or were fired, citing confidentiality laws.
The motion by prosecutors sought the results of any Fullerton Police Department internal affairs investigations related to the July 5, 2011, incident.
In particular, they requested any reports and records that found Ramos and Cicinelli violated department policy and any disciplinary actions.
Fullerton police Cpl. Stephen Rubio, a former use-of-force trainer with the department, testified on behalf of the defense that the actions of the two officers were within the department’s policies.
Only Ramos’ use of profanity moments before the fight began appeared to be a “slight policy violation.”
The trial is expected to resume Jan. 6 with rebuttal from prosecutors.
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