Orange County News

Kelly Thomas beating: Arraignment delayed by new evidence

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An arraignment for the two officers charged in the Kelly Thomas beating was postponed again Tuesday because of a newly discovered audio recording of the confrontation.

The three to four minute recording contains an initial conversation between Thomas and Officer Manuel Ramos. According to the Orange County District Attorney's Office, this new evidence will not make a significant difference to the case.

"It really just goes to a fairly routine conversation between Officer Ramos and Kelly Thomas, and as I said earlier, it's not a game-changer, it explains initial contact and it's a very short window of time," said Assistant D.A. Jim Tanizaki.

However, the defense felt the evidence was important and asked the judge to postpone the arraignment for Ramos and Officer Jay Cicinelli, which is now set for July 17. Ramos has been charged with second-degree murder and Cicinelli faces involuntary manslaughter charges in the beating.

A surveillance camera recorded the officers' deadly struggle with Thomas, a mentally-ill homeless man, last July near a bus depot in Fullerton. The incident began following reports that Thomas was allegedly breaking into cars near the depot. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

The D.A.'s office said this new audio is coming out now because the Fullerton Police Department apparently forgot to sync the audio from Ramos' patrol car with the video. The D.A.'s office also said it was completely unintentional.

Both sides in the case said they had the audio but did not see it because it was part of about 6,000 different files of evidence. The defense will spend the next few weeks analyzing the recording.

The arraignment for the two officers has already been postponed several times to give the defense more time to work on a motion to dismiss charges. After the last delay, Thomas' father, Ron, asked the judge not to allow for another. He too felt this latest delay is unnecessary.

"It's just him driving up, making contact with Kelly, you know, 'Have a seat' kind of thing, it's nothing, absolutely nothing," said Ron Thomas. "But it's a tool for the defense to use for another delay."

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