Jay Cicinelli, one of the Fullerton, California police officers recently acquitted in the beating death of homeless and schizophrenic Iraq war veteran Kelly Thomas in 2011, has been drawing a disability pension from the LAPD for the past 18 years.
Prior to joining the Fullerton police department, Cicinelli had worked for the larger Los Angeles department. But only three weeks after graduating from the police academy in 1996, he was shot in the face and lost his left eye.
The department determined that they had no place in their ranks for a one-eyed police officer and placed him on a 70% disability pension amounting to about $40,000 annually.
After Thomas’ death was brought to the attention of the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions staff in 2011, the pension department asked permission from the ruling board for permission to review his case. The pensions staff felt that the fact that Cicinelli was working as a full time patrol officer, earning $88,544 raised questions as to his disability status.
The board which consists of four members elected by the firefighters and police officers and four appointed by the mayor turned the request down with a 5-3 vote.
While Cicinelli is receiving his $40,000 from Los Angeles, he has asked to be reinstated on the Fullerton force to get his income back up the nearly $130,000 he was bringing home before Thomas’ death. Police Chief Dan Hughes told the city council in a meeting attended by many community residents opposed to reinstating Cicinelli Tuesday night, that he stands by his decision to refuse Cicinelli’s request.
Cicinelli’s attorney, Zachery Lopes has said that if the council does not force the chief to rehire his client he is prepared to seek a “writ of mandate” in Orange County Superior Court. He said that should that court rule against his client he could attempt to appeal to a higher court but that it was rare and difficult to do so.