Doc says chest compression led to homeless death

A medical center trauma surgeon says continuous compression of a California homeless man

Defense attorney John D. Barnett, who is representing Fullerton police officer Manuel Ramos, in the beating death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man in Fullerton, cross-examines a witness during a preliminary hearing in Santa Ana, Calif., Monday, May 7, 2012. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Joshua Sudock, Pool)

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A medical center trauma surgeon says continuous compression of a California homeless man's chest during a confrontation with police officers caused breathing problems that led to his death.

Dr. Michael Lekawa testified Tuesday in response to intense questioning by attorneys for two Fullerton officers charged with killing Kelly Thomas last July.

One attorney asked whether performing CPR for a long time might cause the problems that led to Thomas' death.

Prosecutors contend that Officer Manuel Ramos and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli punched and pinned down Thomas, and that the 37-year-old died from mechanical compression of the thorax, which made it impossible for him to breathe normally.

The testimony came in a preliminary hearing to determine whether the officers must stand trial.

Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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