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Ramos grew frustrated with Thomas, who wouldn’t give his name, said he didn’t speak English and didn’t follow orders to sit with his hands on his knees.

Ramos snapped on plastic gloves, made two fists and then held them in front of Thomas‘ face as he said, “Now see my fists? They’re getting ready to (expletive) you up.”

But again, the defense turned that detail to its advantage. Attorney John Barnett, who represented Ramos, introduced evidence about at least seven previous encounters between Ramos and Thomas to bolster his argument that Thomas was not a “homeless, harmless, helpless mentally ill guy.”

He argued that Thomas had angry outbursts because of a mental instability caused by years of drug abuse. Barnett also called Thomas‘ mother and maternal grandfather to testify about violent encounters they had had with him. Both wore yellow ribbons in his memory and said they loved him.

Cathy Thomas testified in tears that she had taken out a restraining order against her son after he choked her for several minutes during an argument. Thomas‘ grandfather told jurors his grandson had attacked him with a fireplace poker, drawing blood. Still the grandfather said he never feared Thomas.

Thomas served nine months in jail for the 1995 assault.

More focus by the prosecution on Thomas‘ mental state might have led the jury to see the case in a different way, said Olu Orange, a political science professor at the University of Southern California who is also a civil rights attorney and a former deputy public defender.

Thomas‘ mental health “wasn’t the centerpiece and it should have been the centerpiece,” said Orange, who has closely followed the case.

After the verdict, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said he didn’t have any regrets about his strategy. “I’d do the same thing again,” he told reporters Monday.

Prosecutors intend to drop charges against another officer who was awaiting trial.

Three other officers involved in the arrest weren’t charged.

Ron Thomas has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Fullerton over the conduct of its officers.