Police officer charged with murder makes $1 million bail

Officer Manuel Ramos pleaded not guilty after being charged in the beating death of a mentally ill homeless man.

Story highlights

  • Father of alleged murder victim objects to release from jail
  • Family and friends of Officer Manuel Ramos help raise money to free him
  • Ramos and his supporters pay $100,000 for a bond in lieu of bail
  • Second officer charged in homeless man's death is free on $25,000 bail
A Fullerton, California, police officer charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of a mentally ill homeless man was released from jail Thursday after posting a bond in lieu of $1 million bail, the Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman said.
Manuel Ramos, 37, a 10-year veteran of the Fullerton Police Department, is also charged with involuntary manslaughter in the July death of Kelly Thomas, 37.
Ramos' family and friends raised the $100,000 for the bond -- which typically is 10% of the bail -- to secure his release from custody, said Jim Amormino, spokesman for the Orange County sheriff.
Ramos was released shortly after midnight Thursday, Amormino said.
"By the time they do the paperwork and things of that nature, many times it's that late in the morning," Amormino told CNN.
Thomas' father, Ron, 55, of Cypress, California, objected to Ramos' release and said Ramos should have been held without bail.
"I don't want him released because he brutally murdered my son," said Thomas, who's a safety consultant for the construction industry. He was an Army Ranger in special ops for 10 years; a martial arts master, he now teaches hand-to-hand combat to Marines going to Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.
Also charged in the Thomas case is Cpl. Jay Patrick Cicinelli, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony use of excessive force. He was released last week on $25,000 bail.
Both officers have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The two men are among six Fullerton police officers -- all men -- who were involved in the Thomas arrest and have been placed on involuntary, paid administrative leave. The FBI is also investigating the incident for civil rights violations.
Ron Thomas, the father, said Thursday he wants criminal charges against each of the other four officers. "Even if he just stood there and did absolutely nothing, that's what he should be charged with. He didn't prevent my son's death," Thomas said.
The Orange County district attorney's office said this month that no charges were filed against the other four because "the evidence does not show knowing participation in an unlawful act on the part of these officers."
Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old homeless man with schizophrenia, was beaten by police during an altercation July 5 and died five days later.
The case drew widespread attention to the police department of Fullerton, about 25 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. Since then, two other allegations of brutality at the hands of city police have surfaced, both regarding unrelated arrests in 2010.
District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and fellow prosecutors viewed 16 minutes of bus depot surveillance video showing what happened in the Thomas case, Rackauckas has said.
Thomas suffered brain injuries, facial fractures, rib fractures, and extensive bruising and abrasions, the prosecutor's office said. The Orange County coroner listed his manner of death as a homicide and said he died after having his chest compressed, leaving him unable to breathe.
Ramos had made initial contact with Thomas -- whom he knew as a "homeless drifter" -- after police received a call about a homeless man looking in car windows and pulling on handles of parked cars, Rackauckas said.
"He lifted his fists to Kelly Thomas and he said, 'You see my fist? Now they're getting to ready to F you up,' " Rackauckas said, using "F" instead of the full profanity.
The district attorney said Ramos' conduct was unacceptable and "not protecting and serving" the public.
"Ramos had to know that he was creating a situation where Kelly Thomas feared for his life and was struggling to get away from an armed officer who was going to 'F him up,'" Rackauckas said.
Cicinelli arrived at the scene later. He is accused of using excessive force when he allegedly assaulted and beat Thomas, including using the front end of his Taser to hit the victim on the head and face eight times while the man was pinned to the ground by other officers.
At that point, Thomas was making no audible sounds, indicating that he was "down and seriously injured," the prosecutor's office said.