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The Brutal Beating Death of Kelly Thomas

Officers from the Fullerton Police Department beat the schizophrenic man to death after a call reporting he was peeking inside parked cars.

By True Crime WriterPublished 2 years ago 3 min read

Kelly Thomas died five days after he was brutally beaten by officers from the Fullerton Police Department in what is described as “one of the worst police beatings in US history.” He was 37-years-old.

All of the bones in his face had been crushed and Kelly choked to death on his own blood. The officers involved in the beating death were criminally charged but later acquitted of all charges.

On July 5, 2011, at approximately 8:30 p.m. officers with the Fullerton Police Department responded to a call reporting a man vandalizing cars in the parking lot of Sidebar on East Commonwealth Avenue.

Officers Find Thomas in the Parking Lot

Responding officers Manuel Ramos and Joe Wolfe found Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old schizophrenic homeless man who called the city streets home, in the parking lot. Officers attempted to talk to Thomas but he was uncooperative and refused a request to search his person.

Surveillance footage from a nearby FTC pole camera operated by the FPD recorded the entire incident.

Officer Ramos confronted the shirtless Thomas, telling him to sit on the ground. He then requested to search the backpack he had with him. Thomas refused. Officer Ramose then requested Thomas to put his legs out straight and put his hands on his knees. Thomas replied, “I can’t do both.”

Putting on a pair of latex gloves, Officer Ramos announced “Now see my fists? They are getting ready to fuck you up if you don't fcking listen!”

Officers Beat the Hell Out of Thomas

Officer Ramos and five other officers then beat the hell out of Thomas, shocked him with a taser, and left him lying in his own blood. Officer Cicinelli was among the officers who responded to calls for help. Cicinelli kneed Thomas and used his Taser in an unreasonable manner, according to court documents. The officer also struck Thomas with the end of his Taser.

Thomas Pleads for His Life

Thomas can be heard in the video repeatedly pleading with the officers to stop beating him. The officers did not care about those pleas.

“I can’t breathe, I’m sorry, dude!”


“Dad help me!”

“Okay, okay!”

After beating the hell out of Thomas, offices called paramedics. Thomas was transported to St. Jude Medical Center where he was then transported to UCI Medical Center in Orange. Thomas slipped into a coma and passed away five days later after he was taken off life support.

Cause of Death

The coroner listed Thomas’ death as a homicide and the cause of death to be “anoxic encephalopathy with acute bronchopneumonia ''caused by “mechanical chest compression with blunt cranial injuries sustained during physical altercation with law enforcement. A toxicology report did not find any drugs or alcohol in Thomas’s system.

Officers Charged in Thomas’s Death

Officers Ramos, Cincinelli and Wolfe were terminated from the Fullerton Police Department. An investigation into the beating death conducted by a team of OCDA investigators and the FBI led to the arrests of the former officers two months after Thomas’s death. The charges against the officers were filed after protests around Fullerton.

Another officer-involved directly in the altercation with Thomas was not charged.

Officers Acquitted

Despite medical reports, physical evidence such as batons and Tasrers, surveillance footage, audio recording, videos from cell phones, on board bus videos, and 151 witness accounts, all of the officers charged with murder and/or manslaughter were acquitted.

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About the Creator

True Crime Writer

The best of the worst true crime, history, strange and Unusual stories. Graphic material. Intended for a mature audience ONLY.

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