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Ex-cops acquitted in beating death of homeless man in California

By Chuck Conder, CNN
January 14, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The victim's mother says the officers got away with murder
  • The verdict was read in a Santa Ana, California, courtroom Monday afternoon
  • Eight women and four men began deliberating the case last Thursday
  • The beating was recorded by security cameras on the night of July 5, 2011

Los Angeles (CNN) -- A jury has acquitted two former Fullerton, California, police officers on trial in the beating death of Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill and homeless man.

The verdict was read in a Santa Ana courtroom Monday afternoon. Eight women and four men began deliberating the case on Thursday.

"I'm just horrified. They got away with murdering my son," Cathy Thomas, the victim's mother, told reporters after the verdict was read.

The victim's father, Ron Thomas, said that everyone now needs to be afraid.

"This is carte blanche to police officers to do whatever they want," he told reporters.

The beating of Thomas in a transit parking lot was recorded by security cameras on the night of July 5, 2011. The surveillance camera footage shows Thomas being beaten, clubbed and stunned with a Taser by police. The video sparked a nationwide outcry.

Former officer Manuel Ramos was charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. A second former Fullerton officer, Jay Cicinelli, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force.

Manuel Ramos, right, and Jay Patrick Cicinelli appear at their arraignment in September.
Manuel Ramos, right, and Jay Patrick Cicinelli appear at their arraignment in September.

Both were found not guilty on all charges.

"These peace officers were doing their job. They had no malice in their heart," said John Barnett, an attorney for Ramos.

When asked about the video, he said it's "not the entire case."

In closing arguments, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told jurors that Ramos bore responsibility for Thomas's death because he issued a threat to the uncooperative homeless man. Ramos can be seen on the surveillance video putting on gloves and shaking his fist in Thomas' face.

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