Trial opens for officers in death of homeless man

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Updated: 12/03/2013 12:33 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A prosecutor says two Southern California police officers escalated a routine encounter with a homeless man into a bloody beating that caused his death days later.

In opening statements at the officers' trial, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told jurors in a Santa Ana courtroom Monday that former Fullerton officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli were responsible for the death of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas in July 2011.

Thomas, whose family says was schizophrenic, died five days after the violent confrontation with six officers who responded to a call about a man jiggling car door handles in a transit center parking lot.

Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Cicinelli is charged with to involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force.

Defense attorneys are seeking to introduce evidence that Thomas had a history of violence and suffered from psychotic episodes due to prolonged methamphetamine abuse.

 

©2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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