Entries in Homeless Man (7)


Cops to Be Tried in Alleged Fatal Beating of Homeless Man Caught on Video

Thinkstock/Getty Images(FULLERTON, Calif.) -- Two Fullerton, Calif., police officers will be tried in the death of a mentally ill homeless man whose apparent beating by police was captured on video, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Officer Manuel Ramos, 38, and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, 40, are charged in the death of Kelly Thomas, 37. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Attorneys for the officers have questioned whether medical treatment, not the actual beating, could have resulted in Thomas' death.

"The grainy but gripping video of a homeless man being beaten to death was the key evidence in the prosecution's successful effort to convince the court to force a police officer to stand trial for murder in the second degree," said Royal Oakes, an ABC News legal analyst.

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"The video of the beating conjured up memories of the Rodney King police beating of two decades ago," Oakes said. "The videotaped evidence will no doubt be the centerpiece of the D.A.'s case in the upcoming murder trial, where one officer could be facing 15 years to life behind bars."

The July 5, 2011, surveillance video, taken from a publicly mounted camera, coupled with an audio recording device worn by an officer, stunned a packed courtroom of Thomas' supporters when it was shown for the first time Monday.

"I can't breathe man," and, "sorry," Thomas could be heard telling officers as he allegedly endured punches to his left ribs and blows to his face from an officer's knee.

Thomas, who is reportedly schizophrenic, repeatedly cried out for his father.

He was also Tasered three times with the stungun applied directly to his skin for five-second periods. He was hit a fourth time with two darts connected to the gun by wires, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office. The entire time he could be heard screaming in agony.

The apparent beating lasted nine minutes and 40 seconds and ended with Thomas' limp body in handcuffs.

Thomas was transported to St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, Calif., for intubation to help him breathe. He never regained consciousness.

Five days later, Thomas died. The coroner's office ruled the death a homicide.

"You have 1,500 pounds of trained cop on my one little son, but they have to bring this out like they were just so overpowered by this brute to make themselves look innocent and that they're the victims," Ron Thomas, the victim's father, said outside of court Monday.

The officers had responded to the Fullerton Transportation Center after receiving a call that a homeless man was seen looking into car windows and pulling on door handles.

Six officers arrived at the scene for backup, but the district attorney determined that there was only enough evidence to charge Ramos and Cicinelli in Thomas' death.

The video began with Ramos approaching Thomas and asking him to sit with his legs and hands in front of him. Thomas had trouble complying with the order and appeared to have cognitive difficulties, according to the D.A.'s office.

Fed up, Ramos made fists and asked Thomas if he saw them. Thomas replied that he did.

"They're getting ready to f--- you up," Ramos told him.

When a shirtless Thomas, who had earlier forgotten his name and said he didn't speak English, stood up, Ramos and his partner were shown swinging at him with their batons.

Thomas took off and was tackled, setting off the nearly 10-minute beating that allegedly led to his death.

Ramos is a 10-year veteran of the Fullerton Police, while Cicinelli has been an officer in Fullerton for 12 years.

The video ended with paramedics carrying Thomas' body to an ambulance, revealing a large blood stain on the spot where the altercation took place.

Thomas had no illicit drugs or alcohol in him at the time of the incident, according to the toxicology report.

If convicted, Cicinelli could face a maximum sentence of four years in prison and Ramos could be sentenced to life in prison.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two Police Officers Charged in Homeless Man's Death

Comstock/Thinkstock(SANTA ANA, Calif.) -- Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas Wednesday described a brutal police beating that, he said, led to the death of an unarmed schizophrenic homeless man in Southern California.

The death sparked outrage in the community, with hundreds of protesters condemning the police.

On Wednesday, Rackauckas announced second-degree murder and manslaughter charges against two police officers in the death of Kelly Thomas, 37, a mentally ill homeless man recognized and known to the community.

Officer Manuel Ramos made a "deliberate showing of putting latex gloves on," Rackauckas said, and stood over a terrified and unarmed Thomas in a "menacing manner."

"Kelly Thomas appeared to be acting in self-defense, in pain, in a state of panic," Rackauckas said. "His numerous pleas of 'I'm sorry,' 'I can't breathe,' 'Help,' 'Dad'...[were] all to no avail. Screams, loud screams, didn't help."

Thomas suffered a brutal beating from the two officers that included being tackled, pinned to the ground, kneed in the head, Tasered numerous times and shot with darts from a stun gun, Rackauckas said.

After the July 5 death, six officers were placed on leave, but Rackauckas announced that only two, Ramos and Officer Jay Cicinelli, would be charged with the crime.

Ramos was charged with second-degree murder and a felony count of involuntary manslaughter. If found guilty, he could face 15 years to life in state prison. Cicinelli was charged with felonies for excessive use of force and involuntary manslaughter. For him, the maximum sentence is four years in state prison.

The announcement followed an 11-week investigation, with evidence including two cellphone videos, surveillance video, 151 witnesses, police reports, medical reports, the coroner report and examination of the batons and Tasers used by police.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Temple Attack Suspect Boarded Greyhound Bus for New York

Santa Monica Police Department(NEW YORK) -- The man suspected of using a never-before-seen launcher to fire a projectile at a California synagogue boarded a New York-bound Greyhound bus after the attack and police have alerted authorities along the bus route, police said.

Ron Hirsch, who is the subject of a nationwide manhunt, got on the bus the same day he hurled 300 pounds of pipe and concrete into the roof of a building adjacent to the Chabad House and less than a block from the Santa Monica Synagogue, police said.

Investigators confirmed that a man known as J. Fisher, a known alias used by Hirsch, purchased the ticket. He was originally scheduled to arrive in New York on Sunday, but surveillance video shows him getting off the bus in Denver, Colo., investigators said.

Police along the bus' route have been alerted. The bus makes 10 scheduled stops between California and New York.

Hirsch, who is believed to have family in New York, is a transient known in Los Angeles for towing a trailer full of possessions behind a bicycle, police sources said.

The projectile appears to have been fired from an alley, bounced off the center's wall and crashed through the roof. The bang shattered windows, punctured a hole in the synagogue and sent the 300-pound metal pipe into a neighbor's house where a young boy was sleeping. The incident took place shortly before prayer services at the Chabad House Thursday morning and triggered the evacuation of about 100 people from a four-block radius.

Hirsch is also known as Israel Fisher, according to information released by police. He constructed the projectile device using elements including concrete, explosive powder, dry ice and what appears to be an expansion joint sealant, or other expanding plastic or foam.

The oddly constructed mechanical launcher appears to have been highly effective at hurling its material, although it did not seriously damage the Chabad House, which appears to have been its target.

According to the Santa Monica Police Department, Hirsch, a heavyset white male, is being sought on state charges of possession of a destructive device and unrelated local charges.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sex Offender Fakes Death Second Time; Allegedly Kills Homeless Man

WFAA Dallas-Ft. Worth(FORT WORTH, Texas) -- A convicted sex offender allegedly killed a homeless man in an attempt to fake his own death and evade rape charges, police in Fort Worth, Texas said.

Michael A. Gilbert, 42, shot a homeless man who he thought resembled him, stuffed him in his car's trunk and set the vehicle on fire in Eugene McCray Park, police said.

The car's license plate linked Gilbert to the car, but dental records proved the dead man was not Gilbert. Police are still trying to identify the dead man.

There were two outstanding warrants for Gilbert's arrest. One is for a sexual assault with a minor under 17 and the other is failure to register a change of address, Fort Worth Police Officer Sharron Neal said.

This isn't the first time Gilbert attempted to fake his death. Using the alias "Michael Brown," he called authorities in Biloxi, Miss., in 2002 and said that his cousin was drowning. Gilbert was faking his own death to avoid returning to jail over a parole violation, police said. He was charged with sending false distress signals and sentenced to six months in jail.

No body was ever found, police said.

When police came to arrest Gilbert on two outstanding warrants Tuesday, he didn't go quietly. After a seven hour standoff at West Chase Apartments, SWAT officers used tear gas to get into his apartment. Police found Gilbert hiding in the attic. He attempted to slit his throat during the arrest.

Gilbert is being treated at a hospital and when he's well enough, he'll be moved to jail.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Golden Pipes' Reunion With Mom 'A Dream Come True'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Just a few days ago, Ted Williams was a homeless man living on the streets of Columbus, Ohio. But thanks to his "golden pipes" -- his incredible radio voice -- he is getting a second chance at life. Now he has even had the chance to reunite with his mother, whom he had not seen in 10 years.

"It was just a dream come true because, like I said, if anything transpired out of this whole madness that I am going through I did want this to happen, to be here, to be with her," Williams told ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday. "I am still lost for words sometimes."

Since the video of Williams went viral online, offers from tons of organizations -- from Kraft Foods to MTV -- have started pouring in.

His "golden pipes" video got 13 million views in less than 48 hours, but was later removed from YouTube because the Columbus Dispatch, the newspaper that originally broke the story, owned the copyright to it.

Williams has decided to accept the offers of two companies -- Kraft Foods and The Cleveland Cavaliers. He has already recorded a commercial to air this weekend for the popular macaroni and cheese company and is looking forward to the house the Cavs offered him.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cop's Son Turns Himself In After Seen Beating Homeless Man

Photo Courtesy - Seminole County Sheriff's Department(SANFORD, Fla.) -- A police lieutenant's son who was allegedly caught on video knocking out a homeless man turned himself in Monday, nearly a month after the incident occurred.

Justin Collison, 21, arrived at the Seminole County jail in Sanford, Fla., at 8:01 a.m. A warrant had been issued for his arrest charging him with aggravated battery. He paid $4,000 bail and was to be fitted for a monitor before he could be released. Seminole County Jail intake clerk Jennifer Litterelle told ABC News that the GPS monitor is not a house arrest bracelet and is only used to "track his whereabouts," adding that Collison is not confined to his home.

The warrant was issued for Collison Dec. 29 of last year after a video revealed him punching a homeless man in the back of the head outside of a bar. The video shows Collison walk up behind Sherman Ware, 48, punch him in the back of the head and leave him unconscious on the sidewalk.

Ware had to be hospitalized and, according to the Orlando Sentinel, he suffered from a broken nose as a result of the attack.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Arizona Homeless Man Turns in Lost Backpack With $3,300

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TEMPE, Ariz.) -- When a homeless Arizona man found a backpack containing thousands of dollars in cash, he could have seen it as a windfall. Instead, he saw that it was returned to its owner, an honorable act that's now paying off.

Dave Tally, a recovering drug addict, came across the lost backpack earlier this month in a light rail station in Tempe. He opened it up, trying to find some sort of identification or baggage tag.

Inside, there were no clues about its rightful owner, but Tally did find an envelope stuffed with $3,300 in cash, as well as a laptop computer.

"Finding the envelope with the case was just mind-blowing," Tally said. "There were lots of crazy thoughts that went through my head."

The cash could have meant a lot for Tally, who's lived on the streets for several years after losing his home. He now sleeps in the basement of local churches, saving what little he can to fix his broken bike, his only source of transportation.

"I went into survival mode for a moment, actually more than a moment," Tally said, "thinking about all the things I could do for myself."

But in the end, the money wasn't worth more than his honor.

"It wasn't easy, but I know it was the right thing to do," Tally said. "I beat myself up pretty hard for even thinking I would spend one dime of that person's money."

Tally took the bag to his boss at the Tempe Community Action Agency, which helps homeless people in the area find shelter and where he holds down a part time job. With no ID on the bag, they had no way of finding the owner until someone thought to plug in a flash drive that was with the computer.

On the drive was the resume of Bryan Belanger, an Arizona State University student who thought he'd never see his belongings again after mistakenly leaving them in the station on his way to work. He was carrying the envelope of money with plans to buy a used car off Craigslist.

Thanks to Tally's good deed, the bag, cash and computer were back in Belanger's hands five days after he reported them missing.

"It's just the greatest thing I've ever experienced, I think," said Belanger. "It really is a lesson to keep your faith in people, and character exists no matter what your circumstances are."

When Belanger met Tally, he offered a grateful handshake and a cash reward. Belanger even promised to volunteer at the Tempe Community Action Agency.

But those aren't the only rewards Tally's decision brought him. After his story aired on ABC's Phoenix affiliate KNXV-TV, strangers sent Tally checks, and even found him to hand him cash. More than enough money has come in to fix his broken bike.

For his part, Tally hopes his act will change some people's notions about the homeless.

"My time being on the streets, I met some of the most intelligent people that just made bad choices," Tally said. "They are just everyday people that have a different way of life right now."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio