UK & World News

  • 14 January 2014, 10:42

Kelly Thomas: Police Officers Acquitted

Two California police officers who were videotaped in a violent struggle with a homeless man during an arrest have been acquitted of killing him.

Jurors took less than two days to reach the verdicts in the 2011 death of Kelly Thomas.

At the time, the case touched off street protests and political upheaval in the Los Angeles suburb of Fullerton.

A 33-minute surveillance video of the arrest showed Mr Thomas struggling with police officers, who hit, kneed and jolted him with an electric stun gun as he was on the ground.

Following a month-long trial, former Fullerton police officer Manuel Ramos was acquitted of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.

Fellow police officer Jay Cicinelli was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force.

Security was heavy around the courthouse when the verdicts were delivered, as about 50 protesters gathered at the site, some carrying signs saying "No More Killer Cops".

No incidents were reported, but the verdicts stirred strong emotions.

Mr Thomas' mother wept into a tissue as someone shouted "No!" as the rulings were read out in court.

"Just horrified," Cathy Thomas said moments later outside the tribunal.

"He got away with murdering my son."

Mr Thomas, 37, died five days after the confrontation outside a bus station in July 2011.

Officer Ramos' lawyer, John Barnett, said jurors had done their duty.

"These peace officers were doing their jobs," he said.

"They were operating as they were trained, and they had no malice in their hearts."

The trial marked a rare case in which police officers were charged in a death involving actions on duty.

The FBI said it would review the evidence to determine whether federal action was justified.

"With the conclusion of the state court trial, investigators will examine the evidence and testimony to determine whether further investigation is warranted at the federal level," said a spokeswoman in Los Angeles.

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