Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Hearings Continue in Homeless Man Beating Death

Kelly Thomas, family photo.

Shocking surveillance video of a deadly police beating was shown in court during the preliminary hearing of two police officers charged with the murder of a homeless man.

On Monday afternoon, court watchers in the Santa Ana courtroom saw a 35-minute video shot on a surveillance camera at a Fullerton bus depot. The video depicted the entire incident that left Kelly Thomas fatally injured and lying in a pool of blood after a beating by six police officers.

Several Thomas supporters left the courtroom during the video, prompting Judge Walter Schwarm to pause the video to tell gallery members to leave the courtroom if they couldn’t watch quietly.

The footage, which can be seen below, captured audio from the incident as well. Ofc. Manuel Anthony Ramos, now charged with second-degree murder, is heard threatening Thomas: “Now, you see my fists?… They’re getting ready to f*ck you up… If you don’t start f*cking listening.” Ofc. Jay Patrick Cicinelli is seen tasering Thomas and then hitting the homeless man in the face. Later in the video, Cicinelli says “I just smashed his face to hell. He’s on something dude… three of us couldn’t even control him.”

Throughout the video victim Kelly Thomas can be heard apologizing repeatedly: “I am sorry dude, I can’t breathe, dude.” At several points, Thomas cries out for his father, screaming “Dad, they are killing me.” After court, the victim’s father Ron Thomas told reporters “the sounds of my son calling out” was the hardest part to hear.

Ramos, left, Cicinelli, right.

Defense attorneys for two Fullerton police officers accused of killing a homeless man attempted to mine a videotape of the deadly beating for evidence that the death resulted from the medical treatment after the incident.

Attorneys for Ofcs. Manuel Anthony Ramos and Jay Patrick Cicinelli fought back after a tough first day of their preliminary hearing punctuated by the screening of a 35-minute video depicting police physically assaulting homeless schizophrenic Kelly Thomas. Dr. Michael Lekawa, a trauma surgeon at UCI Medical Center, was asked to point out specific times in the video where Thomas stopped breathing. The witness claimed that the processes by which a body is deprived of oxygen occur gradually – and that Thomas’ death was likely a result of cumulative blows as opposed to any one strike.

Dr. Lekawa did point to one moment on the video in which Thomas seemed to have trouble drawing breath – it was just after Cicinelli tasered Thomas and then hit him repeatedly with the butt of the Taser.

Pathologist Aruna Singhania, who performed the autopsy on Kelly Thomas, was the last witness of the day. When prosecutors showed gruesome autopsy photos to underscore the severity of the beating Thomas’ family members left the courtroom.

The hearing is expected to conclude today, after cross examination of Dr. Singhania.

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