Ron Thomas Attends Hearing for Fullerton Officers Accused in Son's Death

Ron Thomas describes his emotions Friday after seeing two Fullerton officers accused in connection with his son's death

The father of a man who died after an altercation with Fullerton police said it was difficult to remain seated Friday when the two officers charged in the case appeared in court.

Kelly Thomas Case: Timeline, Image Gallery

"When we talk about justice for Kelly, I could kill that man," Thomas said, referring to Officer Manuel Ramos, who faces charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. "It was very tough for me to just stay seated. I'm only human. It was very emotional for me this morning."

Several supporters accompanied Thomas to the hearing, at which a pre-trial hearing date was set for Dec. 16. One supporter held a sign that read, "Justice 4 Kelly Thomas," a recurring plea from residents outraged by the July 10 death and subsequent responses from city officials.

Ramos and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force, are free on bail. Thomas was asked how he felt when he saw the two men wearing suits.

"They sit there, going on about business as usual. I don't like that at all," Thomas said after the hearing.

Both officers pleaded not guilty.

It was Ramos who, according to District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, showed Kelly Thomas his fists and said, "Now see my fists? They are getting ready to 'F' you up." Thomas was pronounced dead at a hospital five days after the July 5 altercation at a Fullerton bus depot.

Officers responded to the location after a report of vehicle break-ins. Ramos has been portrayed as the officer -- six responded to the depot -- who set in motion a chain of events that led to the death of Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old homeless man who suffered from mental illness.

Ultimately, Thomas died because of the force of the officers' compression on his chest, the DA said. The pressure made it impossible to breathe, Rackauckas said.

Thomas was asked about the status of the DA's case.

"I have full confidence in the DA to bring justice in this matter and get convictions," said Thomas.

The FBI has opened a parallel investigation into whether the officers violated Thomas' civil rights. Fullerton City Council members have also hired an independent investigator to do an internal review of the arrest. The case led to outrage expressed at several city council meetings and a recall effort.

Cicinelli and Ramos are on unpaid administrative leave. Four other officers involved in the response were not charged. 

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