Police officer charged with murder posts $1M bail

September 29, 2011 - 1:40 PM
Michael Jackson Doctor

Michael Jackson's sister,Janet Jackson, third from left, and brother, Randy Jackson, fourth from left, arrive at court Wednesday Sept. 28, 2011 for the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray in Los Angeles. Murray has pleaded not guilty and faces four years in prison and the loss of his medical license if convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson's death. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A police officer charged with killing a mentally ill, homeless man during a violent arrest posted $1 million bail Thursday and was released from custody, his attorney said.

Fullerton Officer Manuel Ramos, 37, made bail with the help of family and friends and also posted some property toward the bail amount, said attorney John Barnett. He would not say who assisted Ramos or to whom the property belonged.

"He's just relieved to be out," Barnett said.

In California, defendants can often post 10 percent of bail, called a premium, to secure their release.

Ramos has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the killing of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas in a July 5 fight that involved five other officers.

Another officer, Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force and is free on $25,000 bail.

The other four officers were not charged but remain on paid administrative leave while the FBI completes an investigation and the Fullerton Police Department concludes an internal inquiry.

District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has said that when Thomas became uncooperative, Ramos snapped on latex gloves, held his fists in front of Thomas' face and said: "Now see my fists? They are getting ready to F you up."

Prosecutors have called the statement a turning point that set the tone for what could have been a routine arrest to spiral into a 10-minute beating that involved six officers.

Prosecutors have said Thomas was shocked four times with a Taser, kneed in the head, punched in the ribs and bashed eight times with the butt of a stun gun.

The coroner concluded the cause of death was mechanical compression of the thorax, which made it impossible for Thomas to breathe normally and deprived his brain of oxygen.

Barnett disputed the chain of events and said Rackauckas took Ramos' quote out of context.

"There is the statement, 'You see these fists? They're going to F you up,' but the very next thing that's said is, '...if you don't do what you're instructed to do,'" Barnett said. "This wasn't a threat to simply beat someone; this was an instruction to comply with orders, lawful orders."

Ramos was told to return to court Nov. 4 for a pre-trial hearing.

The Fullerton police union issued a statement Thursday saying it did not contribute funds or assist in raising the bail money.