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Six Cops Beat Mentally Challenged Homeless Man To Death

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Uploaded on Aug 4, 2011

SANTA ANA, Calif. - Residents in Fullerton, Calif., are outraged after a mentally-disabled homeless man died following a physical confrontation with five police officers.
In surveillance video taken aboard an Orange County.

Santa Ana, California (CNN) -- A Fullerton police officer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of involuntary manslaughter and felony use of excessive force in the beating death of a mentally ill homeless man who died after a police arrest.

Cpl. Jay Patrick Cicinelli was released Wednesday on $25,000 bail, according to his attorney and a spokeswoman for the prosecutor.

Meanwhile, the arraignment of the officer facing more serious charges, Manuel Anthony Ramos, was continued to September 26 at the request of his attorneys. Ramos was being held Wednesday after Orange County Superior Court Judge Erick L. Larsh set his bail at $1 million.

Ramos, who is 37 and a 10-year veteran of the Fullerton police, is charged with second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the July beating death of Kelly Thomas, who was unarmed.

Thomas' father, Ron, urged the judge not to reduce Ramos' bail from $1 million because of "the horrible manner in which my son was murdered."

The September 26 court hearing, however, will also review Ramos' bail.

The judge ordered both officers to surrender their guns within 24 hours. He also set a pretrial hearing for Cicinelli on November 4.

The charges were announced Wednesday by the Orange County prosecutor.

The actions of Ramos "were reckless and created a high risk of death and great bodily injury," District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told reporters.

Ramos faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life if convicted, authorities said. Cicinelli, who is 39 years old and a 12-year Fullerton police veteran, faces a maximum of four years in prison if convicted.

Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old homeless man with schizophrenia, was beaten by police during an altercation and died five days later. The FBI is also investigating civil rights violations in the case.

Six Fullerton officers, including Ramos and Cicinelli, were put on paid leave after Thomas' death. The case drew widespread attention to the police department of Fullerton, located about 25 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Since then, two other brutality allegations have been made by men who were allegedly injured by Fullerton police last year, and Officer Kenton Hampton has been placed on paid leave in connection with one of those two complaints, a department spokesman said. Hampton, 41, is a five-year veteran of the Fullerton police, prosecutors said.

The other four officers involved in the Thomas incident -- Hampton, Officer Joseph Wolfe, Sgt. Kevin Craig and Cpl. James Blatney -- were not charged because "the evidence does not show knowing participation in an unlawful act on the part of these officers," the prosecutor said in a statement.

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