An Orange County Superior Court judge on Friday set a Nov. 30 hearing on a motion to dismiss charges against one of the two former Fullerton police officers charged in the death of Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man.
Attorneys for former Officer Manuel Anthony Ramos, who is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, filed the dismissal motion this week, arguing that the deadly confrontation was largely Thomas' fault and Ramos did not violate any laws.
Attorneys for former Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive force in the July 5, 2011, beating, have not filed a motion to dismiss charges against their client but have said they intend to do so.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has made his case against Ramos largely on the allegation that the officer held up his fists to Thomas, threatening to "(Expletive) him up," which frightened Thomas, leading him to run away from the officers and triggering the deadly conflict.
Rackauckas has said that Thomas, 37, had a right to defend himself, and that he appeared confused and flustered by Ramos' commands.
Ramos' attorneys, however, argue in their motion that Thomas did not show any signs of being frightened, was defiant in his interactions with Ramos and his partner at the time, former Officer Joe Wolfe, and did not have the right of elf-defense in the circumstances that prevailed.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Walter Schwarm in May ordered Ramos and Cicinelli to stand trial, ruling the prosecution had presented enough evidence for the case to go forward. A videotape of the police confrontation with Thomas at the Fullerton Transportation Center highlighted the preliminary hearing.
Thomas can be heard pleading for help from his father while officers repeatedly strike him. Police had gone to the center in response to a false report about somebody breaking into parked cars.
Ramos faces a potential sentence of 15 years to life if convicted of second-degree murder, four years if convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Cicinelli faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison if found guilty.
Ramos' dismissal motion will be heard by Judge William Froeberg.
Friday’s decision comes the same week as an independent investigator released his third and final report on the Fullerton Police Department, which included nearly 60 suggestions for reform.