An Orange County judge has refused to dismiss a manslaughter charge against a former Fullerton police officer for the death of Kelly Thomas, who was beat by police two years ago.
Superior Court Judge William Froeberg says a jury should decide whether former Fullerton Officer Joseph Wolfe's rights were violated and there was insufficient evidence to convict him of involuntary manslaughter and excessive force, as his lawyers had argued.
Wolfe is one of three former officers facing trial over the July 2011 death of Thomas.
Officers beat Thomas, a 37-year-old with schizophrenia who had a long history of run-ins with police, on July 5, 2011 during a police call-out to a suspected car vandal.
Thomas never regained consciousness and was removed from life support at UC Irvine Medical Center on July 10.
Officer Manuel Ramos was charged with one felony count of second degree murder and one felony count of involuntary manslaughter. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison.
Corporal Jay Cicinelli was charged with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of the use of excessive force. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of four years in state prison.
Wolfe faces up to four years in prison.
All three pleaded not guilty.
Ron Thomas, a former Orange County Sheriff's deputy, has filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Fullerton and its police department.
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