After two former Fullerton police officers were found not guilty Monday in the case of the beating and death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man, the family of Thomas is pushing for federal charges to be filed against the former officers.
Charges against a third officer involved in the deadly 2011 altercation will be dropped but the Thomas family does not want to see any of the officers get off scot-free.
Ron Thomas, Kelly’s father and former sheriff’s deputy, said he is hoping that the Department of Justice will file federal charges against the officers involved, according to The Los Angeles Times.
“I’ve never seen something so bad happen to a human being, and have it done by on-duty police officers,” Thomas said.
With the state court trial brought to an end, “investigators will examine the evidence and testimony to determine if further investigation is warranted at the federal level,” according to Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles FBI field office.
The FBI first opened a civil rights investigation into the case in 2011.
After the jury found the two former officers to be not guilty after around eight hours of deliberation, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said he would not pursue the involuntary manslaughter case against Officer Joseph Wolfe.
Manuel Ramos was charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, while Jay Cicinelli was charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive force.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Cicinelli was ecstatic, according to his attorney Mark Schwartz. Thomas’ family wept softly after the jury’s verdict was announced, according to the Times.
The Associated Press reported that Cicinelli wiped tears from his eyes while Ramos put his head down, rubbed his temples and then turned to his supporters and winked.
Around 100 people gathered at the Fullerton transit depot near where Thomas was beaten on Monday night to protest the decision.
“To know all of these people are out here still supporting us means a lot,” said Thomas’ mother Cathy, according to The Los Angeles Times. “It seems like everybody we talk to was in agreement: It was murder.”
Cathy expressed similar sentiments outside of the courthouse after the verdict was announced.
“Just horrified,” she said, according to the Associated Press. “He got away with murdering my son.”
Ron Thomas issued an even more strongly worded statement after the verdict.
“All of us need to be very afraid now,” he said, according to the AP. “Police officers everywhere can beat us, kill us, whatever they want, but it has been proven right here today they’ll get away with it.”
John Barnett, the attorney representing Ramos, said that the jurors did their duty and that the officers were just doing their jobs.
“They were operating as they were trained, and they had no malice in their hearts,” Barnett said.
Additional protests are expected, according to the Times.
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