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Charges Dismissed Against Third Officer Accused in Thomas Beating

Former Officer Joe Wolfe had been facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force stemming from the struggle with Kelly Thomas.

Four days after two former Fullerton police officers were acquitted of charges stemming from the death of transient Kelly Thomas, charges were formally dismissed today against a third ex-officer charged in the case.

Former Officer Joe Wolfe had been facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force stemming from the July 5, 2011, struggle with Thomas at the Fullerton Transportation Center. Thomas was taken off life support five days later.

Prosecutors opted to drop the charges following Monday's acquittal of former Fullerton Officer Manuel Ramos and ex-Lt. Jay Cicinelli. Ramos, 39, had been charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, while Cicinelli, 41, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said he would dismiss the case against Wolfe because his role in the beating was "not as reprehensible."

That decision did not sit well with Thomas' father, Ron, who said he wanted prosecutors to put Wolfe on trial.

"He's a very, very bad character. He was the first one to strike Kelly with a baton with his hands up surrendering, and then the devastating elbow blows crushing his face," Ron Thomas said.

Thomas expressed his displeasure in court today, but Orange County Superior Court Judge William Froeberg went along with prosecutors' request to dismiss the case against Wolfe.

-- City News Service

Joker Joe January 20, 2014 at 11:10 AM
If Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas could not win this one, then he is useless. Remember that when you vote!

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