Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli are the first police officers in Orange County, California, to be charged with manslaughter for actions taken while on duty.
Richard Winton, Abby Sewell and Nicole Santa Cruz of the Los Angeles Times newspaper reported that two Fullerton police officers charged in the death of a homeless man made their first court appearance Wednesday afternoon, and one was set to be released on bail.
Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas took the unusual step of appearing in person for the arraignment of Officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli, who are charged in the death of Kelly Thomas, 37.
Thomas' father, Ron, also spoke out at Rackauckas' request during the arraignment.
Cicinelli pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and the use of excessive force. He posted $25,000 bail and was slated to be released Wednesday. His next hearing is set Nov. 4.
Ramos' arraignment on charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter was postponed until Monday, as his attorney is out of town. He remains in custody with bail set at $1 million.
The issue of bail will be revisited Monday. When asked if he opposed a bail reduction, Rackauckas called up Ron Thomas, who asked the judge not to reduce the bail amount because of the "horrific way" his son was killed.
The judge ordered both officers to surrender their firearms when they are released from custody.
The court appearance came three hours after Rackauckas announced the charges at a dramatic news conference during which he gave a detailed and chilling narrative of the beating that resulted in Thomas' death.
Rackauckas said Thomas begged for his life as Fullerton police officers beat him and Tasered him July 5.
Ramos put latex gloves on his hands and brandished a fist at Thomas. Then, Rackauckas said, the officer, in a "menacing" manner, threatened Thomas: "These fists are ready to F you up."
Scared and bleeding, Thomas begged for his life. No one listened, Rackauckas said.
"Kelly Thomas appeared to be acting in self-defense, in pain, in a state of panic. His numerous pleas of 'I'm sorry,' 'I can't breathe,' 'help,' 'Dad,' all to no avail," Rackauckas said. "Screams, loud screams, didn't help."
"Kelly Thomas was not responding when blows to his face occurred," Rackauckas said, adding, "That is not protecting and serving."