0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- The death of a 37-year-old California homeless man after a violent confrontation with police drew attention largely because of surveillance video that captured him screaming for his father and begging for air as officers piled on, struck him with batons and stunned him with a Taser.In the courtroom, however, much of legal drama in the monthlong trial of two former police officers has centered on the checkered past of Kelly Thomas and his medical history as attorneys called dueling experts to help the jury decide if the officers' conduct alone killed him.Former Fullerton police Officer Manuel Ramos, 39, has pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter. Former Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, 41, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force.Closing arguments in the case began Tuesday.The decision to charge a police officer with murder for actions taken while on duty is rare - and particularly so in conservative Orange County. It's the first time prosecutors in the county have ever charged such a case, and its outcome is so critical that four-term District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has handled much of the trial himself.Thomas' 2011 death galvanized activists, who dubbed themselves "Kelly's Army," and led to the recall of three Fullerton City Council members and the departure of the police chief.Jurors have repeatedly watched the 33-minute, grainy surveillance video. In it, Thomas can be heard screaming for his father nearly 30 times and crying out repeatedly that he can't breathe as six policemen fight to restrain him. The video was synced with audio from the officers' body microphones.