The Orange County District Attorney's Office is looking for witnesses to the incident between Fullerton police and Thomas that led to his death.
If you have any information about this incident, please call Investigator Stan Berry at (714) 347-8813.
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In January, Orange County Superior Court Judge William Froeberg declined to dismiss charges against former Officer Manuel Anthony Ramos, who is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the
Attorney John Barnett, who represents Ramos, filed the appeal with the Fourth District Court of Appeal in
The dismissal motion revolved around an allegation that Ramos held up his fists to Thomas, threatening to ``(expletive) him up,'' which Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said frightened Thomas, prompting him to run away from the officers and triggering the deadly conflict.
Rackauckas said Thomas had a right to defend himself, and that he appeared confused and flustered by Ramos' commands.
Barnett, however, argued that Ramos told Thomas he would only carry out his threat if Thomas failed to obey his instructions. Barnett argued it was akin to a police officer saying, ``Stop, or I'll shoot,'' to a suspect.
Under the prosecution's legal theory, if an officer shouted a similar order at a car thief and the suspect turned and ran, causing a school bus full of 30 children to roll over, killing all of the passengers, the officer would be held liable for their deaths, Barnett said after Froeberg's ruling.
Froeberg, however, ruled the videotape of Thomas' beating was sufficient evidence to go forward with a trial. The judge has set a June 28 trial date for Ramos and Cicinelli.
Former Officer Joe Wolfe, 37, who was indicted in September on felony counts of manslaughter and excessive force, will return to court March 29 for a hearing on his attorney's motion to dismiss charges and to set a trial date.
It's likely Wolfe will be tried separately since his indictment came a year after charges were filed against the other co-defendants.
Police went to the
Wolfe and Ramos confronted Thomas at the transportation center. While Wolfe went through a backpack Thomas had with him, Ramos and Thomas engaged in a lengthy, often sarcastic and prickly, exchange.
Wolfe found letters in the backpack addressed to an attorney, prompting him and Ramos to discuss arresting Thomas for possession of stolen property. Investigators later determined the letters were not stolen.
Thomas ran from the officers after Ramos held his fists up to him and ordered him to follow his instructions, officials said. That touched off the skirmish that ultimately included six officers as they worked to restrain Thomas.
Ramos faces a potential sentence of 15 years to life if convicted of second-degree murder but only four years if convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Cicinelli and Wolfe face a maximum sentence of four years in prison if found guilty.
Posted by David Perez