Orange County News
Kelly Thomas case: Fullerton chief fights acquitted cop's effort to regain job
FULLERTON, Calif. (KABC) -- Following the not guilty verdict in the Kelly Thomas trial, will the police officers involved be able to get their jobs back?
That was just one of the issues that Thomas supporters brought up at Tuesday night's Fullerton City Council meeting.
Former police corporal Jay Cicinelli was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter and excessive force on Jan. 13 in the death of Thomas, a homeless mentally ill man. He is now fighting to gain his job back.
On Tuesday, Thomas' supporters spoke out at the first council meeting held since the verdict was read in the controversial case and voiced their concerns to keep the officers off the force.
"Any officer that acts like these officers did should not be police officers anywhere, I mean, it's just outrageous," said Kelly Thomas' father, Ron Thomas. "I don't care that the jury found them not guilty. They didn't find them innocent, they found them not guilty.
Fullerton police Chief Dan Hughes says the not guilty verdicts will have no impact on any employment decisions related to the former officers.
On Tuesday, Hughes emphasized that he will not rehire any of the officers involved in the violent confrontation with the 37-year-old.
"The criminal case involving these former officers has absolutely no impact, whatsoever, on the decisions I have already made regarding the employment status of these former officers," said Hughes during Tuesday's Fullerton City Council meeting.
Cicinelli and former Fullerton police officer Manuel Ramos were both fired about a year after the 2011 incident. Cicinelli has since alleged he was wrongfully terminated, but Hughes says he stands behind his employment decision and intends to defend his decision in every step of the process.
Cicinelli will go before an arbitrator who will make a recommendation to the city on whether to rehire him. The former police corporal could also sue the city of Fullerton to get his job back.
The latest fight comes just days after violence broke out at a rally protesting the verdict Saturday. Fullerton police were forced to dispel the crowd after a local news photographer was assaulted by a protestor. At least 14 people were arrested in the demonstration that drew about 200 people.
Thomas urged calm before Tuesday night's meeting.
"I made it very clear, the city council is not part of the jury," said Thomas. "They did not do this to Kelly. They did not kill him, just go in, voice your opinions as concerned citizens and let it go with that. We do not need violence because that's not what we're about."
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