Orange County News

Fullerton officer charged with Kelly Thomas murder pleads not guilty

Monday, September 26, 2011

One of the two Fullerton police officers charged in the beating death of a mentally ill homeless man pleaded not guilty in court on Monday.

Manual Ramos is facing second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas.

Officials say he is on suicide watch at the Men's Central Jail. However the district attorney would not explain why or give any details.

Monday was Ramos' second court appearance. He appeared for his arraignment and bail review. His attorney tried to persuade the judge to lower his bail.

"My client was confronted with an individual who would not obey lawful commands," said attorney John Barnett.

It was in July that Fullerton police tried to arrest Thomas. The O.C. district attorney said that the officers tasered Thomas four times and then he was struck in the head, eventually causing his death.

"We need to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt," said O.C. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. "I certainly believe we can. I would not have filed the case had I believed we could prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt."

Ramos' attorney told the judge that Thomas had a violent past. He claims that years ago Thomas attacked his grandfather, hitting him in the head with a poker. He also said his mother also got a restraining order.

"That's a violent act, and that's a felony," said Barnett. "Within one year of these events his own mother sought and received a restraining order because he was coming to her house, urinating on the front door, taking off his clothes and choking her."

"Kelly was not a felon, it was reduced to misdemeanor charges," said Thomas' father Ron. "He did it. He did what he did, yes. But he is not a dangerous felon by any means."

Thomas' father requested that the judge not reduce the bail because of the brutal way in which his son died, as well as being concerned for his safety.

"I made the statement and it's a true statement," said Thomas' father. "If he were allowed to be on the streets I would be in fear of my life, which I have been throughout this entire process."

Over the weekend Thomas' father and supporters held a rally outside the Fullerton Police Department. They want all six officers involved to be charged. As of now Ramos and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli have been charged.

The judge decided to keep Ramos' bail at $1 million.

Ramos is being held in isolation because he is a law enforcement official. That is becoming quite expensive, so officials are considering moving him to the Santa Ana Jail.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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homicide investigation, orange county news, carlos granda
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