Fullerton Homeless Man Kelly Thomas begged for his life from ‘menacing’ officer, D.A. says
Scared and bleeding, Kelly Thomas begged for his life to no avail as Fullerton police officers beat him and Tasered him in a violent confrontation that led to his death, Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said at a news conference Wednesday.
Rackauckas gave a painfully detailed narrative of the July 5 events leading up to Thomas’ death -– details that he said resulted in second-degree murder and manslaughter charges being filed against two police officers.
Rackauckas said Officer Manuel Ramos put latex gloves on his hands and brandished a fist at Thomas. Then, Rackauckas said, the officer, in a “menacing” manner, threatened Thomas: “These fists are ready to F you up.”
Ramos knew Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man who frequented downtown Fullerton, and Rackauckas said the officer should have realized that he was mentally ill and having difficulty following commands.
“Kelly Thomas appeared to be acting in self-defense, in pain, in a state of panic. His numerous pleas of ‘I’m sorry,’ ‘I can’t breathe,’ ‘help,’ ‘Dad,’ all to no avail,” Rackauckas said. “Screams, loud screams, didn’t help.”
Six officers were placed on leave after the beating, but Rackauckas said he filed charges only against Ramos and Officer Jay Cicinelli, who is accused of excessive use of force and involuntary manslaughter. The other four officers were not charged and were unaware of the statements and threats made by Ramos, the district attorney said.
Cicinelli allegedly Tased Thomas four times, kneed him in the head twice and hit him eight times with the Taser, Rackauckas said.
“Kelly Thomas was not responding when blows to his face occurred,” Rackauckas said, adding, “That is not protecting and serving.”
Rackauckas said the cause of Thomas’ death was “medical compression of the thorax,” basically chest compression that left him unable to breathe. His other injuries were contributing factors, according to the coroner’s report.
The attorney representing the officers could not be immediately reached for comment.
Charges are expected to be filed today against an Iraq war veteran accused of killing four homeless men in Orange County.
Itzcoatl “Izzy” Ocampo, a 23-year-old ex-Marine being held on a psychological watch at the Orange County Jail in Santa Ana, faces charges in connection with the series of stabbing deaths that occurred over the past month.
The victims were James Patrick McGillivray, 53, who was killed in Placentia on Dec. 20; Lloyd Middaugh, 42, in Anaheim on Dec. 28; Paulus Smit, 57, in Yorba Linda on Dec. 30; and John Berry, 64, in Anaheim on Jan.13.
The killings were gruesome and particularly violent, with each victim suffering at least 40 stab wounds, police told a victim’s relative. One of the victims suffered more than 50 stab wounds.
Ocampo was arrested after witnesses chased him down following Berry’s killing.
Ocampo had been known to be exceedingly generous with the homeless, sometimes handing over money that he couldn’t afford to give, family members said. But if authorities are correct, Ocampo’s apparent kinship for the downtrodden somehow curdled into something more sinister.
The change in Ocampo, friends and family say, can be traced back to his time in Iraq. He entered the Marines after the 9/11 attacks, and deployed to Iraq in 2008 with the Marines’ 1st Medical Battalion.
His assignment was grisly: He had to meet and inspect the wounded — both friend and enemy — when they were flown in from combat zones en route to the hospital.
“He came back totally changed,” fellow Marine Robert Hays said. “It was almost like he didn’t care anymore. He’d get fidgety, he’d start shaking, spacing out. You’d see him staring off.”
Pinkberry Yogurt Chain Founder Beats Homeless Man with Tire Iron over “Offensive” Tattoo
A founder of the Pinkberry yogurt chain allegedly beat up a homeless man with a tire iron because he found the transient’s sexually explicit tattoo offensive, according to L.A. prosecutors.
The incident took place in June 2011 on an off-ramp of the Hollywood Freeway at Vermont Avenue, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Young Lee was stopped at a light when he was approached by a man seeking money, police said.
Words were exchanged, and Lee and another man in the car chased the homeless man and “beat him down” with the tire iron, police Capt. Paul Vernon said.
According to a statement by the district attorney’s office, Lee felt disrespected by the tattoo. Officials did not provide a detailed description of the tattoo.
Lee is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 8 on charges of assault with a deadly weapon. The charge carries a special enhancement of causing great bodily injury.
“This case is emblematic of how the homeless are among the most vulnerable in our society,” said Vernon, commanding officer of the Central Detective Division. The extent of the homeless man’s injuries hasn’t been disclosed.
Detectives spent several months probing the case against Lee, who was in South Korea for part of that time.
Lee, 47, was taken into custody at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday night by the LAX Fugitive Task Force, which includes LAPD officers and FBI agents. He was booked at the LAPD’s Pacific Division station, according to online Sheriff’s Department booking records.
A former kick-boxer and later an architect, Lee co-founded Pinkberry with Shelly Hwang in 2005.
The first shop opened that year in West Hollywood and featured a low-calorie yogurt that came in two flavors: plain and green tea. The small shop on Huntley Drive quickly generated a loyal following.
At one point, Pinkberry was drawing 3,000 customers a day and became known as the yogurt shop that spawned 1,000 parking tickets.
The business now has more than 100 locations in the United States, Mexico and the Middle East, according to the company website.
Lee was released Tuesday on $60,000 bail.