Defense Attorney Says Officers Actually 'Weren't Using Enough Force' In Brutal Kelly Thomas Beating
The high-profile trial of two Fullerton cops accused of using excessive force in beating Kelly Thomas to death has been underway for the past two days. Prosecutors recounted the brutal details of the beating in their opening statements, while defense attorneys blamed Thomas for his own death.
Thomas' death in 2011 enraged folks nationally, as video with key evidence surfaced of the police officers using Tasers and flashlights on the unarmed mentally-ill homeless man, that left him nearly unrecognizable in a coma for five days before he died. His autopsy revealed bones in his face were broken and that he had choked on his own blood, according to Associated Press.
Manuel Ramos, 39, and Jay Cicinelli, 41, are the officers on trial, and their lawyers attempted to show the jury that the two weren't as menacing as they seemed in the videos, and that it was actually Thomas who was the one out of control.
In the opening statements on Monday, Ramos' defense attorney, John Barnett, argued the police officers “weren’t using enough force" during the incident and that Ramos "showed restraint, tremendous restraint," according to The Los Angeles Times and the OC Register.
Barnett added, "This case is not about a homeless, helpless, harmless mentally ill guy, this case is about a man who made choices in his life, bad choices that led to his tragic death."
Cicinelli's defense lawyer, Michael Schwartz, pointed out that Thomas' beaten and bloodied face was merely "bruising," according to OC Weekly. "A tragedy?" Schwartz said. "Yes. A crime? No. Sometimes tragedies happen in this world."
The OC Register published the full 37-page transcript of the events that transpired that night on July 5, 2011. At one point, Ramos was recorded as saying, "Now you see my fists? They're getting ready to fuck you up."
Although the defense attorneys are looking into Thomas' criminal and drug-use history, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, is giving a play-by-play of the damning 30-minute video evidence, and contends that Thomas never hurt anyone. Los Angeles Times reported:
“He never threatened or was violent to police the night of July 5, 2011,” Rackauckas said to the jury of eight women and four men. “He posed no threat at all to the police or anyone else and that’s the night that you’re here to judge.”