Trial Opens for Officers in Death of Homeless Man

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Thomas, who some called “Crazy Kelly,” was known around town for his disheveled red beard and erratic behavior and was already familiar to police.

Ramos had been called on seven previous occasions to remove him from private property, and Thomas had been written up for trespassing, urinating in a fountain and vandalism, among other things.

The altercation that led to his death started with Ramos rolling up to a police call about a man who was trying to open car doors at Fullerton’s busy transit center. This time, however, things escalated — and much of it was captured on the surveillance tape that promises to be the trial’s centerpiece.

Rackauckas has said investigators overlaid recordings from the officers’ body microphones with the tape, allowing prosecutors to provide a blow-by-blow narrative of an “impending beating by an angry police officer” and verbatim quotes from the officers and Thomas as the scene unfolded.

Initially, Ramos chides Thomas for his evasive answers: “It seems like every day, we have to talk to you about somethin’ … Do you enjoy it?” Ramos asks Thomas, according to a prosecution transcript.

Within minutes, Ramos grew angry as Thomas refused to cooperate. He snapped on latex gloves, held his fists in front of Thomas’ face and said, “Now see my fists? They are getting ready to (expletive) you up,” according to the transcript.

Thomas stood up and pulled away, prosecutors said, and Ramos chased him down, tackled him and punched him in the ribs as he pinned him down.

Cicinelli, who arrived moments later, is accused of kneeing Thomas twice in the head and using a Taser on him four times before hitting him in the face with the blunt end of the stun gun eight times. The coroner listed the cause of death as mechanical compression of the thorax, which made it impossible for Thomas to breathe normally and deprived his brain of oxygen.

 (AP Photo: Kelly Thomas (shown), whose family says was schizophrenic, died five days after the violent confrontation with six officers who responded to a call about a man jiggling car door handles in a transit center parking lot.)

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