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Cops Face Trial Over Homeless Man's Death
Two California police officers will stand trial over the death of a schizophrenic homeless man who was beaten and repeatedly shocked with a stun gun.
Kelly Thomas, 37, died on July 10, 2011, five days after the incident outside a bus station in Orange County, southeast of Los Angeles.
Officer Manuel Ramos, 38, is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, and faces a maximum penalty of 15 years to life in prison if found guilty.
The second officer, Corporal Jay Cicinelli, 40, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and the use of excessive force. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted. Both have pleaded not guilty.
A judge ordered that the trial would go ahead after a three-day hearing in which he was shown CCTV that showed several officers delivering multiple blows and taser shocks before restraining Mr Thomas.
Prosecutors said the pair, who approached Thomas to question him about reports of vandalised cars near the bus depot, turned a routine police encounter into an unnecessary and savage beating.
"They have uniforms, bases, they carry the guns, Tasers. It's awesome power, really. We just have to trust that they follow the law," Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackaukas said.
Defence lawyers argued that Mr Thomas started the struggle, while claiming there was not enough proof to say the officers were directly responsible for the death.