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Video of police beating homeless man brings gasps in courtroom

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A graphic video showing Fullerton, Calif., police Officer Manuel Ramos and another policeman swinging at a homeless schizophrenic man named Kelly Thomas brought gasps and cries from Orange County courtroom spectators Monday when it was shown publicly for the first time.

And Tuesday, detailed autopsy photos will be shown during day two of a preliminary hearing for Ramos and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, both facing homicide charges in the death last July of Thomas, 37.

Ron Thomas, the father of Kelly Thomas, told The Orange County Register that he will leave the courtroom when the autopsy photos come out.

Also Tuesday, a pathologist is expected to testify on Thomas' cause of death, NBCLosAngeles.com reported.


Fullerton police officers Jay Cicinelli, left, and Manuel Ramos attend a preliminary hearing Monday in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, Calif., the death of Kelly Thomas .

The black-and-white video showed Thomas lying on the ground screaming, "They're killing me."

Thomas said he forgot his name and didn't sit with his feet stretched out in front of him, as police had ordered. When he got up, Ramos and another officer swung at him with their batons and pinned him to the ground.

"I can't breathe, man," Thomas moaned shortly before another officer used a Taser on him, according to a transcript of the muffled recordings.

"Dad, help me," Thomas said.

Thomas also is heard screaming in pain and repeatedly yelling, "I'm sorry, dude, I'm sorry!" as more police piled on.

Many spectators Monday continued to cry out through the video screening, prompting Judge Walter Schwarz to briefly halt proceedings and order spectators to compose themselves.

The confrontation, caught by a bus depot surveillance camera and by two bystanders with cell phones, touched off protests last year in Fullerton, about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

A video played at a hearing to determine whether two Fullerton, Calif. police officers should stand trial in the beating death of a homeless man showed them kicking and punching the man. KNBC's Patrick Healy reports.

Ramos, 38, a 10-year veteran on the Fullerton force, was charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in connection with Thomas' death and faces a maximum penalty of 15 years to life in prison if found guilty.

Cicinelli, 40, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Both pleaded not guilty.

Schwarz must decide whether there is sufficient evidence for the two policemen to stand trial.

Four other officers involved in the incident were placed on administrative leave but were not criminally charged.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said Thomas, who died five days after the July 5 beating without regaining consciousness, was a victim of "unlawful and excessive force under color of law."

This article includes reporting by The Associated Press and Reuters.

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