Kelly Thomas Trial: Courthouse Aftermath

Ron Thomas with supporters shortly after the verdict was read
Ron Thomas with supporters shortly after the verdict was read
Photo by Charles Lam

Reaction following the "not guilty" verdict in the Kelly Thomas killing has thus far been highly negative.

While District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, Ramos Defense Attorney John Barnett, and friends and family of Thomas Kelly spoke inside the courthouse, protestors rallied outside the building and in the city of Fullerton.

"The streets aren't safe anymore. Not when the police have the authority to beat anyone they want," screamed protestors immediately after the "not guilty" verdict was read. Passing cars honked their horns in response to the protestors' signs.

District Attorney Tony Rackauckas at a press conference following the verdict, where he announced charges against former Fullerton Police Officer Thomas Wolfe would most likely be dropped
District Attorney Tony Rackauckas at a press conference following the verdict, where he announced charges against former Fullerton Police Officer Thomas Wolfe would most likely be dropped
Photo by Charles Lam

Several protestors wiped away tears and comforted one another while others yelled at police officers riding motorcycles past the courthouse, as well as at Orange County Sheriff's deputies guarding the building.

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Inside, Rackauckas admitted defeat and signaled that he would not seek an appeal or prosecute other officers involved in the beating.

"I think [the verdict] ends [the case]," he said. "It doesn't make sense to continue the case with other officers who weren't [as] reprehensible as Officer Ramos."

One other former officer, Thomas Wolfe, has currently been indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force. Three other officers were involved in the beating, but were not charged with crimes. One of the officers involved, Fullerton Police Sergeant Kevin Craig, was called as a defense witness during the trial; he said he trusted Cicinelli, the person who beat Thomas in the face with a Taser, to use necessary force.

Despite the loss, Rackauckas said the trial was fair and that he would present his case the same way.

"I think we had a fair trial," he said. "We gave the jury all of the evidence. . . . There were no eyewitnesses that would've added to the evidence. . . . I would make the same decisions."

Protestors confront Ramos and Cicinelli supporters as they leave the courthouse
Protestors confront Ramos and Cicinelli supporters as they leave the courthouse
Photo by Charles Lam

John Barnett, Ramos' defense lawyer, who also represented one of the officers involved in the Rodney King beating, believed the jury decided fairly.

"These police officers were doing their jobs," he said. "They did what they were trained to do.

"I think the jury clearly understood the law and facts."

Ron Thomas, Kelly's father, was upset with the ruling, but he says he will continue to keep fighting.

"I had a bad feeling the whole time," Thomas said. "All the things said about his drug use were untrue. . . . I am just horrified. They killed my son."

A video of Ron Thomas addressing supporters shortly after the verdict reading:

More to come.

Additional reporting by Thao Ta.

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Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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