The two Fullerton police officers charged with murder and manslaughter in the beating death of transient Kelly Thomas appeared before a judge Wednesday afternoon. One was released on bail, and the other remained in sheriff’s custody.
Superior Court Judge Erick L. Larsh arraigned Cpl. Jay Cicinelli on charges of involuntary manslaughter and felony use of excessive force and set his bail at $25,000.
Officer Manuel Anthony Ramos’ arraignment was postponed until Monday so his attorney can be present. Ramos, who was charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, remains in sheriff’s custody with bail set at $1 million.
Larsh agreed with the bail amounts requested by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who was present at the arraignment, along with a cadre of his deputies.
Ron Thomas, Kelly Thomas’ father, spoke to the judge. Given the “horrific” nature of the allegations against Ramos, Thomas said, “I ask you to please” set bail at $1 million.
Rackauckas announced the charges against the officers earlier Wednesday during a rare and emotional press conference. Rackauckas alleges that Ramos initiated a brutal beating of Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old schizophrenic man, at the Fullerton bus depot on July 5. Thomas died of his injuries on July 10.
The 38-year-old Ramos, Rackauckas alleges, told Thomas that he was going to “f*** you up,” and then commenced with a beating that lasted nearly 10 minutes. Cicinelli joined in on the beating after arriving on the scene.
Four other officers at the scene were not charged.
Ramos, wearing a blue shirt with white horizontal stripes, appeared nervous during the arraignment but remained expressionless. The courtroom was nearly full, with Thomas’ supporters filling one row.
“We are thrilled to be sitting here right now — to see them in a cage,” said Fullerton resident Marlena Carrillo.
Garo Mardirossian, attorney for the Thomas family, said that Rackauckas has “integrity” but that he was disappointed the other officers, who allegedly stood by and watched the beating, were not charged.
“I would like to have seen every one of them charged, because those who did not intervene had an obligation to,” Mardirossian said.
— ADAM ELMAHREK and NICK GERDA