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Police officers under fire for death of mentally ill man

The father of a schizophrenic man who was brutalized and ultimately killed by police two years ago is pushing for justice for his son nearly two years after his alleged California murder. Police officers in the case have been forced to mount a criminal defense against the allegations; two of the men are accused of manslaughter in connection with the 37-year-old victim's death. The man, known as "Crazy Kelly" throughout his California town, was known for his erratic behavior and violent tendencies, which included vandalism.

The two police officers in the case, ages 39 and 42, have both pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter and related allegations. Both remain free on bail at this time. A third officer is facing a separate trial in the matter, and three of the officers involved were never charged with a crime.

Authorities say this particular altercation with the victim was unlike others they had experienced; the man quickly became violent when officers approached him about his most recent violation. The victim was trying to open car doors at a local transit center. Prosecutors are using audio tape from the officers' personal microphones, along with surveillance tape, to argue that the police officers used excessive force. Indeed, the coroner says the victim was killed because he was suffocated to death.

Defense attorneys, on the other hand, say that the surveillance tape does not tell the whole story, as the victim reportedly reached for one of the officers' weapons before the tape began to roll. The victim also tried to bite the officers; they thought he might have been having a psychotic episode because of his long-term methamphetamine use. Defense attorneys say that the victim was far from innocent - as a confirmed drug user, he was exceptionally dangerous to deal with.

These police officers deserve the same kind of fair trial afforded to any other American defendant. A criminal defense team can help such defendants learn more about their rights and responsibilities in court, helping them maximize the outcomes of their criminal trial.

Source: www.sfgate.com, "Calif. Police officers on trial in homeless death" Gillian Flaccus, Dec. 02, 2013

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