Officers plead not guilty in death of Kelly Thomas

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(AP) – A Southern California police officer and a former officer have pleaded not guilty in the beating death of a mentally ill homeless man. Former Fullerton Officer Manuel Ramos and Officer Jay Cicinelli entered the pleas Friday in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana.

Kelly Thomas died five days after a violent struggle with officers who were responding to a report of a man breaking into cars at a transit hub.

Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the July 5, 2011, incident. Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force under the color of authority. Both remain free on bond.

The death of the 37-year-old Thomas prompted widespread protests. Voters in June recalled three Fullerton councilmembers and Thomas’ father has sued the city.

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