Fullerton Officer Charged With Murder Posts Bail, Released

Manuel Ramos faces a second-degree murder charge in the beating death of a homeless man

The Fullerton officer charged with murder in the death of Kelly Thomas was released from jail early Thursday after posting bail.

Manuel Ramos, one of six officers involved in the deadly confrontation with Thomas Jul. 5 at a Fullerton bus depot, was charged earlier this month with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Ramos pleaded not guilty and his bail was set at $1 million after a plea in court from Kelly Thomas' father that bail not be reduced.

The 10-year Fullerton PD veteran posted bail just after midnight, according to court records.

"I don't like it at all," Ron Thomas said Thursday. "We're dealing with cold-blooded murderers here, and they should not be out on bail. But it's the foundation that this country is based on. Everybody's entitled to bail, and they made it."

At Ramos' bail reduction hearing last week, Thomas indicated that he was concerned for his safety.

"There's nothing I can do about it," Thomas said Thursday. "I'm not going to stress over that. He's not a stupid man by any means. He's not dumb enough to come after me. I've been so vocal in trying to get him behind bars, and I'm going to try to keep him there."

Ramos's attorney, John Barnett, confirmed that his client made bail with the assistance of contributions from other officers, and the posting of family property to secure bond.

"Well, of course it was difficult," said Barnett. "It's a great deal of money. But fortunately they were able to do it." 

A pretrial hearing is scheduled on Nov. 4 for Ramos and another officer charged in the case.

Ron Thomas was asked about reports of supporters who collected the money to post Ramos' bail. He was told officers and family members raised the money, not the Peace Officers' Association.

A Van Nuys bail-bondsman confirmed to NBC4 Thursday that a $100,000 premium -- 10 percent of the total bail -- that was paid in cash came from a "group of people." Ramos' father provided the rest by putting up his home for collateral, according to the bondsman. Ramos will have to wear a GPS tracking unit until after his trial.

"He's just relieved to be out,'' attorney John Barnett said.

Case Background

Kelly Thomas died five days after the Jul. 5 altercation at a Fullerton bus depot.

Ramos has been characterized as the officer who set in motion a chain of events that led to Thomas' death, according to the district attorney. Ramos was the first officer to encounter Thomas, a homeless man who suffered from mental illness, Jul. 5 at a Fullerton bus depot, according to DA Tony Rackauckas.

During the arrest, Ramos showed Thomas his fists and said, "Now see my fists? They are getting ready to 'f' you  up," Rackauckas said when he announced the charges last week. Other officers, including Cicinelli, then arrived and struck Thomas' head and body as he cried out for his father, according to the DA's account

Ramos has been incarcerated at the Intake Release Center in Santa Ana, said sheriff's Lt. Mike Peters. His attorney, John D. Barnett, said Ramos "is not guilty of  murder, manslaughter or any other crime.'' Ramos was attempting to "de- escalate'' the situation when he allegedly shook his fists at Thomas, Barnett said.

A second officer, Jay Cicinelli, posted bail and also is due back in court Nov. 4. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force. He also pleaded not guilty.

Four other officers involved in Thomas' arrest will not  face criminal charges. All six officers are on administrative leave.

[UPDATE] Thursday afternoon, acting Police Chief Kevin Hamilton announced his intent to place Ramos and Cicinelli on unpaid administrative leave. 

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