Defense Attorney For Fullerton Police Officer Speaks Out

Defense attorney reveals why the case has him upset

The attorney for Fullerton Police Officer Manuel Ramos condemned the Orange County prosecutor who appeared in a press conference earlier this week detailing the case against his client.

Ramos appeared in a Santa Monica courtroom on Wednesday and was charged with one count of 2nd degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter for the beating death of Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill, homeless man.

Thomas was removed from life support and died five days after the beating.

More: Other Officers Could Face Charges
| Kelly Thomas Timeline

Defense Attorney John D. Barnett spoke to NBC4 News via telephone. He condemned Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas for Wednesday's unusually candid news conference where the D.A. detailed his case against Barnett's client.

"The hysteria that has surrounded this event is quite troubling," said Barnett. "When somebody gets arrested for a mass murder nobody has a press conference, sent to prison, to jail, hung before trial."

Barnett has been involved in numerous high profile cases, many involving police officers.

Perhaps the most well-known, his defense of LAPD Officer Theodore Briseno in the Rodney King beating case, where Barnett broke ranks with the rest of the defense, arguing his client tried to stop other officers during the assault.  

But it was the DA's rationale for the second degree murder charge—that Ramos set in motion the events that resulted in the death of Kelly Thomas--  that has the defense attorney most upset.

Barnett said it was very unusual to bring murder charges against a peace officer "not because he was the instrument of Death, but because he was the initial officer."

As with that case, a video will be key to the prosecution of Officer Ramos.

"I believe it's going to support the defense in this case. Videos and audios have to be taken into context and if they aren't, you come to the wrong conclusions," said Barnett.

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