Fullerton police Officer Manuel Ramos and possibly two others involved in the fatal beating of mentally ill transient Kelly Thomas have been put on notice that they will be fired, according to sources and news reports.
Ramos, who is facing trial on second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges, received one of the letters of intent from the police deparment, said sources familiar with the case.
Officers Joseph Wolfe, who is on paid leave from the department, and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, who faces trial for involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force, also have received notices that they will be fired, according to CBS News and Friends For Fullerton’s Future, a blog that has often been ahead of traditional news organizations with information about the Thomas case.
State law prohibits police departments from releasing the names of officers who are facing discipline.
The notices were contained in “disposition letters” delivered Tuesday to all six officers involved in the July 5, 2011, beating at the Fullerton bus station that resulted in the death of the 37-year-old Thomas, according to other sources.
The letters, the result of an independent outside internal affairs investigation conducted by Michael Gennaco, informed each officer what type of discipline, if any, was recommended.
Sources familiar with the department’s actions said the letters evaluated the actions of each officer and recommended dismissal, reprimand or exoneration, depending on each officer’s role.
An Orange County Superior Court judge this month ordered that Ramos and Cicinelli stand trial. They are scheduled for arraignment on June 26.
Acting Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes stated in a news release Tuesday he had “reached findings” based on Gennaco’s investigation. Because of the law “any notices served upon affected employees are confidential and will not be commented upon,” the news release declared.
The officers have 10 days to respond to the recommendations contained in the disposition letters. If nothing is presented to Hughes that changes his mind about the recommended discipline, the firings or other discipline can be appealed first to the city manager, then to an outside arbitrator and finally to the City Council.
“The appeal proceedings are generally confidential as a matter of law as well,” according to the news release.
— TRACY WOOD
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