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Two Calif. police officers charged in beating death of mentally ill man, Kelly Thomas

Five cops suspended after beating metally-disabled homeless man to death
Kelly Thomas CBS/KCBS

(CBS/KCBS/AP) SANTA ANA, Calif. - Two Fullerton, Calif. police officers have been charged in the death of Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man who died after he was beaten and repeatedly shocked with a stun gun, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas announced Wednesday.

Pictures: Kelly Thomas

Rackauckas said Fullerton police officer Manuel Ramos was charged with one count each of second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of the 37-year-old Thomas. Cpl. Jay Cicinelli was charged with one count each of involuntary manslaughter and excessive force.

Rackauckas said a review of the evidence showed Thomas was acting "in self-defense, in pain and in a state of panic."

"His numerous pleas of `I'm sorry,' `I can't breathe,' `Help Dad' (were) all to no avail. Screams, loud screams, didn't help," the prosecutor said.

Six officers were placed on paid administrative leave after the July 5 incident that occurred while police were investigating reported vehicle break-ins at a transit hub.  According to CBS station KCBS, officers confronted Thomas, who suffered from schizophrenia, while investigating reports of a man burglarizing cars near the Fullerton Transportation Center.

In surveillance video taken aboard an Orange County Transportation Authority bus, passengers say officers pounded Thomas' face and hogtied him as he cried out for his father. 

Police said Thomas ran away as officers tried to search his backpack, and a struggle ensued when they tried to arrest him.  Thomas suffered severe head and neck injuries and was taken off life support on July 10.

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