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Mentally Ill Homeless Man Beaten by Fullerton Police Died from Asphyxia, Reports Coroner

December 31, 1969

According to the coroner's death certificate, Kelly Thomas, the mentally ill transient who was fatally beaten by Fullerton six police when they apprehended him in July died from asphyxia brought about by mechanical chest compression and accompanied by blunt cranial-facial injuries. The coroner is calling the death a homicide. Thomas, who was 37, weighhed 145 pounds, and suffered from schizophrenia, also sustained traumatic brain injuries, fractures to his face and ribs, serious bruises and abrasions, and severe bleeding.

Thomas's parents have already filed a Los Angeles, California wrongful death claim against the city of Fullerton. This type of claim against a city is a precursor to an actual civil lawsuit. In their Fullerton wrongful death claim, Thomas's family accused police of using "excessive and deadly" force "without justification" when they detained him at the Fullerton Transportation Center and used their fists, a Taser, and objects for approximately 10 minutes to restrain him. The six cops were responding to a report that someone was trying to break into autos at the Metrolink station parking lot.

Today, Orange County prosecutors charged Fullerton police officer Manuel Ramos with second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in Thomas's death. Ramos was the first person to approach Thomas that day. Ramos has been quoted as saying to Thomas, "My fists ... are getting ready to F you up."

A second cop, Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, was charged with involuntary manslaughter. He is accused of shocking Thomas four times and using the stun gun to smash up Thomas's face. Cicinelli is also charged with excessive use of force under the color of authority. The other four cops, who were placed on administrative leave along with Ramos and Cicinelli, will not be criminally charged.

Last week, The Los Angeles, California wrongful death lawyer of Thomas's family announced that he will be filing a Los Angeles police brutality complaint against the city of Fullerton on behalf of a man who says that he too suffered brutal treatment by one of the police officers involved in Thomas's beating. Temecula resident Edward M. Quinonez's Fullerton personal injury case is against officer Kenton Hampton. Quinonez also happened to witness the cops beatingThomas.

Police Brutality
Police officers must never use force more excessive than what a situation warrants. If you or someone you love sustained fatal injuries because a cop was physically or verbally abusive or used more force than necessary, your civil rights have likely been violated and you may have reason for seeking Los Angeles personal injury damages from the police department, the individuals involved, and/or the city.

Unfortunately, many people are too afraid to report when they've been threatened or brutalized by a cop. They may not even know that something wrong has been done to them or fear reprisals.

Another suit planned against Fullerton police, OC Register, September 16, 2011

Kelly Thomas: Father urges high bail in son's 'horrific' death, LA Times, September 21, 2011

Kelly Thomas died of asphyxia, report says, MSNBC, September 21, 2011

Fullerton officer charged with murder in Kelly Thomas death, ABC Local, September 21, 2011

Related Web Resource:
Police Department, City of Fullerton

More Blog Posts:
Fullerton Cops Accused of Orange County, California Police Brutality in Fatal Beating of Kelly Thomas, California Injury Lawyers, August 13, 2011

Newport Beach Wrongful Death Lawsuit Blames Police for Suicide of Man While in Custody, California Injury Lawyers, August 6, 2011

$2.1M Excessive Use of Force Settlement Reached in 2008 Orange County, California Wrongful Death of Inmate Detained by Cops in 2008, California Injury Lawyers, June 29, 2011