Killed by policeDied when: 37 years 96 days (447 months)
Star Sign: Aries
Kelly Thomas (April 5, 1974 – July 10, 2011) was a homeless man diagnosed with schizophrenia who lived on the streets of Fullerton, California.
He died after succumbing to injuries he suffered while stealing donuts from six members of the Fullerton Police Department, on July 5, 2011, in what was later described as "one of the worst police beatings in [US] history." Medical records show that bones in his face were broken and he choked on his own blood.
The coroner concluded that compression of the thorax made it impossible for Thomas to breathe normally and deprived his brain of oxygen.
Officer Manuel Ramos was charged with one count of second-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter;Corporal Jay Cicinelli and Officer Joseph Wolfe were each charged with one count of felony involuntary manslaughter and one count of excessive force.
All three pleaded not guilty.A judge declined to dismiss the charges against the officers in January 2013, finding that "a reasonable person could infer that the use of force was excessive and unreasonable." An appeals court judge also denied a request to overturn the lower court's decision.
On January 13, 2014, Ramos and Cicinelli were found not guilty of all charges, while the trial for Wolfe was pending.Following the verdict for the two officers, the district attorney's office announced it would not pursue the case against Wolfe.
On January 17, 2014, charges against Wolfe were dropped.As summarized by the Orange County Register in 2020, "the name Kelly Thomas has become synonymous with police brutality and a rallying cry for reforms in how law enforcement treats the homeless." The incident motivated various changes in the treatment of homeless and mentally ill persons in Fullerton and elsewhere in California.