Fullerton Gang Members Charged With Murder

A few months ago 6 members of the Fullerton Police Dept. beat a man to death. The murder took place in front of several eye witnesses and so it was clear to me when I read the story that justice would be done and the murderers would have to answer for their crimes. I was going to write a post about it then but I wanted to wait for official charges to be filed, they have since been filed:

Two Fullerton police officers have been criminally charged in the violent confrontation that left a homeless man dead, Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas announced Wednesday.

Charges against police in homeless man’s death Officer Manuel Ramos has been charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the beating of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man. Officer Jay Cicinelli has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force.

These cruel sadistic thugs were not even smart enough to drag this kid into some dark alley, away from the prowling eyes of witnesses, no, they somehow thought their actions justified and warranted, so no attempts were made to conceal the beating.

Rackauckas said the department reviewed 151 witness statements, videos of the beating, medical reports and police statements.

The district attorney’s office had been awaiting the coroner’s determination on the cause of death before deciding whether to file charges

You can view one of the video’s here.

I would like to know why charges were not filed against the other 4 cops, they were present and complicit in whatever actions the two offending cops were part of. They clearly did not intervene and come to the aid of Kelly. Even if they sat idly by on the sidelines, which the D.A.s crop of videos should determine, they had a duty to act in Kelly’s defense, they did not, so justice must bitch slap them as well.

It should be noted that Kelly’s dad, the principal force behind the investigation into this murder, is a retired Orange county Dep. Sheriff, here is more on Ron:

My respect for Ron is only matched by the grief I share with him. He is absolutely right about each confrontation must be weighed on it’s own merits but training and protocol require a minimum level of force to be used up until that time that a higher level of force is justified. Factor in that the whole reason cops carry Tasers is so that they would not have to go toe to toe with suspects. The use of a Taser, properly applied and warranted, would subdue a suspect without any other unnecessary force needed, yet they not only Tasered him several times (outside of policy) but they beat him senseless as well.

The beauty of this story is twofold, the sheer amount of witnesses (video’s) available and the dogged tenacity of Ron Thomas. They killed his boy, Ron was not going to let anything be swept under the carpet. He not only fomented community outrage, but has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and has been a pain in the ass of the D.A., who got the entire investigation turned over to him from the city who wanted an independent entity doing the investigation.

The usual disclaimers apply, we are a nation of laws and the accused has a built in presumption of innocence, the case must be proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt. Given the scrutiny this case has garnered, I am confident that justice will be done.

I figured I should be the one to write something on this. I am no stranger to police misconduct working several years in investigations but I have to admit, this case really rocked me. I will be following the trial closely and hope that a proper investigation is done within the entire Fullerton Police Dept. as I expect the rot to go all the way to the top.

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  1. Seattle Outcast

    Cop shops across the country are getting a real wake-up call when it comes to their version of reality as it stacks up against video recordings. Courts across the country are telling them that being recorded on the job is not something they can harass people for.

    Here in Seattle the SPD is under federal investigation for corruption. Something just about anyone can tell them is a couple decades overdue.

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  2. Manwhore

    I figured I should be the one to write something on this. I am no stranger to police misconduct working several years in investigations but I have to admit, this case really rocked me.

    Thanks for posting on this, I have followed it since it happened. Reason had a good youtube article about it that shows the victim’s father telling the police at the town hall that *HE* has to hear his helpless son’s last words as being “Dad! Please help.”

    I’ve got tears in my eyes just thinking about it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7YFKm9gnKo

    Bear in mind, almost no one picked up on this story until Mr. Thomas hiimself took a photo of his son disfigured from the beating and posted it. The kid died because they crushed his ribcage until he couldn’t breathe.

    What scares me the most about it is watching the bystanders not getting involved. They just watch, and it begs the question; “could you do anything or would you have to watch the police kill a man?” He needed help, but how do you fight back against a cop?

    I wanted to dovetail it into your other position about warrantless searches, and civilians just letting go of it until court. This is not a “he’ll get millions” type of thing. These cops “allegedly” beat this kid to death and a life was lost that might have been saved if there was the ability to defend yourself.

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  3. Manwhore

    It gets better in Fullerton. As I mentioned below, the department’s public relations officer refused to give any details about the investigation, and I believe the officers were allowed to see the surveillance camera feeds before any eye witnesses were.

    Regardless, it seems pretty clear that they beat this guy to death. The information that got the ball rolling came from people and their cell phone cameras.

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  4. Section8

    Bear in mind, almost no one picked up on this story until Mr. Thomas hiimself took a photo of his son disfigured from the beating and posted it

    I hate to say it, but if he were black we would have heard about it, along with the standard lecture about how we still have a long way to go and racism runs deep. Unfortunately this was void of the divisive spark for some who feed off it, especially the media.

    What scares me the most about it is watching the bystanders not getting involved.

    That was my first thought too, but as you alluded to, what are they going to do really? They could rush the cops and then it becomes a mob attacked the cops who were just doing their job, and they would have been the ones going to jail. I doubt at the time any bystander thought that was going to be the beginning of his end, and then there’s just the state of disbelief too. I guess what will really define our society is if these guys are going to pay any price for what they did.

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  5. Manwhore

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ljYNgLnpxM

    Here’s the video someone took at the scene (be fore-warned it’s brutal and you can hear the man screaming for his father). You can clearly see the people not doing anything, but they knew that it was wrong and were vocalizing it.

    I don’t know what they can do, but my question is what can you do? If they intervened those cops might have shot them. It’s a scary thought to think of what could realistically be done, and what if it was you that had to helplessly watch as a cop beats someone to death because you can’t touch them?

    I don’t know the answer to that question.

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  6. richtaylor365 *

    I’ve got tears in my eyes just thinking about it.

    Ditto, and that Reason video you posted was excellent.

    What scares me the most about it is watching the bystanders not getting involved. They just watch, and it begs the question; “could you do anything or would you have to watch the police kill a man?” He needed help, but how do you fight back against a cop?

    Here is what you do, you make yourself a physical presence, and what I mean by that is you “show yourself”. Rightly or wrongly if a private citizen interferes with an arrest taking place then they can be charged with obstruction, you can clearly see the reason for this. But if I was a witness to this I would do several things:
    Show myself to the officers so that their anonymity is removed and speak up ,”Yo, dog, stop struggling OK?”, this would show that I am on their side but am still attentive to what is happening, and ,”Hey, guys, he is just a kid, ease up on him OK?”, which cannot be interpreted as interfering but would show that I am watching them.
    Break out the video in your cell phone and start filming, but keep the narrative to a minimum, the video will speak for itself.
    Regarding the use of videos, it is my belief that all public servants have no expectation of privacy when on duty, you work (and answer to) the public so what you do on their dime is public domain, clear enough?

    I would like one of these “Cop grabbing video camera from private citizen” cases to make it all the way to SCOTUS where a final determination can be made that as long as that private citizen is not interfering or obstructing you in your duties, then he can film you all day long, too effing bad.

    These cops “allegedly” beat this kid to death and a life was lost that might have been saved if there was the ability to defend yourself.

    And how, pray tell, do you or anyone defend himself when 6 burly cops are beating the crap out of you? They killed him as surely as they put a bullet in his head, no defending that. that is why the charge filed was MURDER.

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  7. Hal_10000

    Thanks for posting about this Rich. I’ve been mulling a post for a long time but couldn’t think of anything to say beyond, “Holy crap!”

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  8. Section8

    Ok, got what you mean, and I agree. I can only hope these pricks go down hard though as a message for the next bunch, I guess we’ll see.

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  9. Tool

    training and protocol require a minimum level of force to be used up until that time that a higher level of force is justified.

    Really? I thought the amount of force just has to be objectively reasonable, not the minimum amount, at least that is what I was told. If a police officer is trying to arrest someone for committing a felony there is no duty to use the minimum amount of force (like soft hand techniques) when it would be reasonable to deploy a taser.

    That being said multiple officers savagely beating and smothering a lone, unarmed, and by some accounts completely immobile, suspect to death in this fashion is simply murder. Nothing can excuse the Fullerton police officers conduct, men like this are the reason law enforcement has a difficult time gaining community respect in many situations. If anything, these criminals should get more time because they abused their legal status as police officers to sadistically torture and kill a suspect who at one point was completely restrained and begging for help.

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  10. richtaylor365 *

    Really?

    Yes, really

    All police officers in California must go through and pass a POST certified academy to make sure they are all state compliant with their training. Part of that training teaches the different levels of force, If I remember correctly (it;s been a while) there are 5 different levels, from level one which is demeanor (just chatting with a suspect but exhibiting proper command presence) up to level 5 which is deadly force. Incumbent in these levels is the duty to use the appropriate minimum level of force necessary.

    If a police officer is trying to arrest someone for committing a felony there is no duty to use the minimum amount of force (like soft hand techniques) when it would be reasonable to deploy a taser.

    Depends, is the suspect resisting in any way? If not then a Taser would not be warranted, would it?

    The levels of force apply in all contacts. Sometimes those levels can escalate and it is not necessary to use them in order, like going from 1 to 2. Say a cop pulls you over for speeding, he would approach you using level 1 but if in conversation he sees a gun stuffed in your waist ban, he would be justified in going straight to level 4, removing you from your car at gun point. Or if you pointed said gun at him with a “Screw you, I ain’t going back to prison”, then level 5 (deadly force) might be warranted.

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  11. Tool

    Just going by what I know federal officers are taught. Use of force continuums are considered poor training tools. The use of force simply needs to be whatever is reasonable in the situation and not what is the minimum. If anything federal officers are taught to use the maximum amount of force that is reasonable in a violent situation to end it quickly.

    What I was trying to illustrate with my admittedly vague scenario is that there may be situations where attempting hand control techniques or a taser would be warranted. Instead of using a technique which may put you in danger and always thinking about using minimal force, end the fight quickly and make sure you win.

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  12. CzarChasm

    Like others have said, I have followed the story for a long time, since just a day or two after Kelly passed away. At the two forums that I frequent the most, this has been a big deal. When I first got author status here, I made a folder of bookmarks of subjects I could write about, and this one remains at the top. The reason I didn’t post about it is that I was hoping the cop-shop or DA’s office would release the video from a city-owned and run surveillance camera that is placed right above the transportation plaza (big-ass bus stop basically) where the murder took place. There is very little doubt that a clear vid exists, and that vid is the one which rich referred to when he said that the cops were allowed to view it before they wrote their reports. Here’s a video showing the location of the camera and the proximity of it to the incident. It has zoom, focus and pan capabilities, and is remotely controlled from a 911-type of center. Part 1 and Part 2 of a video recorded in the studios of the local radio “John and Ken Show” hosts an anonymous guest by phone who says he knows first-hand that the camera did indeed catch all of the beating, and that the cops were indeed given the opportunity to review it to get their stories together before writing their reports. Admittedly, the guy is a bit too cloak-and-dagger for my tastes, and the show hosts indulge him in it, but on the other hand, if you listen to all of it, he seems to be on the inside and know what he’s talking about.

    The videos I posted above are from a YouTube Channel called “Friends For Fullerton.” It wasn’t created because of the Kelly Thomas case. The earliest videos are from a couple of years ago and whoever created the channel was kind of a “watch-dog” type of videographer covering the City Council mostly. Since the Kelly Thomas beating however, they’ve been the best source for up-to-date info that I’ve found, and the channel has been almost entirely devoted to his case.

    Five hours ago, Friends For Fullerton posted the video of the DA’s press conference announcing the indictments. He gave a fairly complete narrative of what happened, and confirmed that part of his evidence is indeed the camera from the bus depot. I haven’t had a chance to watch/listen to the whole thing yet, but on first blush, I’m somewhat conflicted. On the one hand, a 2nd degree murder charge against a police officer for a death that occurred while on duty is VERY unusual in this country, and is encouraging. On the other hand, there were six officers involved in the beating, and much of FFF’s videos include many eye-witnesses who say all six got their licks in, yet only two of the jack-booted thugs were indicted today. I’m keeping an open mind because I haven’t heard the whole press conference yet, but if there aren’t more indictments forthcoming, the DA and Fullerton will not have perormed the full measure of their jobs.

    CC

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  13. richtaylor365 *

    Bringing it down here:

    Just going by what I know federal officers are taught. Use of force continuums are considered poor training tools. The use of force simply needs to be whatever is reasonable in the situation and not what is the minimum

    .

    I can’t speak for the feds, but the application of the different levels of force make perfect sense to me, if you can get the job done with no one getting hurt in the process, that is preferred.

    If anything federal officers are taught to use the maximum amount of force that is reasonable in a violent situation to end it quickly.

    I imagine they spend a lot of money settling excessive force lawsuits, something cities and states can ill afford.

    What I was trying to illustrate with my admittedly vague scenario is that there may be situations where attempting hand control techniques or a taser would be warranted. Instead of using a technique which may put you in danger and always thinking about using minimal force, end the fight quickly and make sure you win.

    I talked about the use/application of Tasers in the original post. Used to be that when things escalated and a higher level of force was warranted, then pepper spray or the PR-24 would be used, still requiring a certain proximity to the suspect and injuries to the officers occurred. With the advent of the Taser ( I believe a level 3 use of force but don’t quote me) then compliance could be achieved with minimal injury to the suspect and no injury to the officer.

    On the other hand, there were six officers involved in the beating, and much of FFF’s videos include many eye-witnesses who say all six got their licks in, yet only two of the jack-booted thugs were indicted today. I’m keeping an open mind because I haven’t heard the whole press conference yet, but if there aren’t more indictments forthcoming, the DA and Fullerton will not have perormed the full measure of their jobs.

    I was initially optimistic that a thorough investigation on all these guys would be conducted but one of those video’s you posted eluded to a certain coziness between the P.D. and the D.A.’s office. I now think that the FBI needs to be called, they handle “color of authority” abuses, this investigation should have produced 6 indictments, not 2.

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  14. CzarChasm

    Say a cop pulls you over for speeding, he would approach you using level 1 but if in conversation he sees a gun stuffed in your waist ban, he would be justified in going straight to level 4, removing you from your car at gun point.

    This is truly scary to read a former cop say that just seeing a gun is reason enough to draw his and remove someone from their car at gunpoint. I can only assume that you were a cop in CA, where cops are supported by state and local governments in being openly hostile to 2nd Amendment rights. Where I live, and in 20-some-odd states of the Union at this time, open carry is legal and common, and in no way justifies the cop treating the subject any differently than either concealed carry permit holders or even completely unarmed citizens. Many cops here were part of the lobbying effort to have open carry specifically protected by law under the premise that they are more secure when they know a subject is armed than when they don’t. Duh.

    I left CA many years ago in large part because of their 2nd Amendment idiocy. Now I understand that CA has an open carry law too. You all tell me if this makes sense to you. CA’s open carry law stipulates that, 1) Your weapon must be unloaded – no magazine in the well, or no shells in the cylinder, and, 2) Every citizen who open carries gives his/her implied consent to be searched by any cop who sees that they’re open carrying, for any reason, or no reason at all other than that they’re carrying.

    Both of those conditions make CA-style open carry a total and complete joke. If I’m open carrying, all the victimizers and gangstas know it’s unloaded. My gun would be stolen and I’d be left in the street in Kelly Thomas’ condition sooner or later. And oh yeah, how “free” I would feel when exercising my 2nd Amendment rights automatically suspends my 4th Amendment rights! However, I guess if I ever set foot in CA again, I’d rather take the search than a bullet from some idiot who thinks his badge entitles him to draw down on me even if I never reach for my own weapon, show no hostility towards the officer and am carrying legally to begin with.

    In many parts of the country, a cop who draws down on someone who has done nothing to escalate the situation, is himself escalating the situation, and the subject would have every right and reason to draw in self-defense. Someone’s likely going to get severely injured or dead, not because a citizen chose to exercise his 2nd Amendment rights, but because the cop forced the citizen to utilize the most important part of that amendment, the right to bear.

    Where exactly in the Constitution is the part that says a cop can draw his weapon just for seeing a citizen with one?

    CC

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  15. Manwhore

    The part that frosts my ass the most is hearing that one cop put his gloves on, raised his fists and told the victim “see these two fists? They’re gonna fuck you up!” to the victim; later you can hear Kelly APOLOGIZING to the thugs just so they would stop beating him.

    I was hoping for six indictments on this too, but if they can use is to make the police chief and anyone covering this up resign, I guess it’s a start. Fullerton and Anaheim are pretty authoritarian cities, so the prosecutor was lucky to get these charges in. I do hope they stick, and praise God that this guy’s dad was a cop and knows how to maneuver the system for the rest of us poor slobs this might happen to.

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  16. CzarChasm

    I now think that the FBI needs to be called, they handle “color of authority” abuses, this investigation should have produced 6 indictments, not 2.

    I’m glad to see you say that rich. We’ve had our disagreements, but I’m with you 100% on this point.

    CC

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  17. Manwhore

    I would agree with the blogs you visit. This is serious and it’s a game changer. This kid was murdered bigger than shit and the police department tried to cover it up. Like I said before, thank god this kid’s dad was a cop, otherwise they might have gotten away murdering a mentally ill scrawny guy in front of other people.

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  18. CzarChasm

    Actually, I think it would’ve gotten lots of attention in any case. The pressure from the local community has been white-hot, with marches happening on a regular basis for [about 3 months]* straight now. Kelly’s dad has done his part to keep it in the public eye, no doubt, but like you said, this one’s a game-changer and would’ve been even if he wasn’t as persistent as he has been. Surf some of the vids at the FFF channel. There’s a lot of video of the protests, and the citizenry is really taking a courageous and principled stand against such brutality. Check it out and see if you don’t agree.

    CC

    *Edited for accuracy.

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  19. richtaylor365 *

    This is truly scary to read a former cop say that just seeing a gun is reason enough to draw his and remove someone from their car at gunpoint.

    Well, carrying a concealed weapon in California is a felony so yes, that would be proper procedure, but my guess is that if it was you, you would be smart enough to not conceal it knowing that you were in fact committing a felony in the process but would instead keep it in plain sight unloaded which would warrant nothing beyond a level 1 and a request from the officer for him to check the weapon himself.

    I’m a big believer in the 2nd Amendment, but I’m also smart enough to stay in compliance with the law, knowing what I can and can not do wrt my firearms makes me a good citizen.

    Where I live, and in 20-some-odd states of the Union at this time, open carry is legal and common, and in no way justifies the cop treating the subject any differently than either concealed carry permit holders or even completely unarmed citizens.

    Great, but that is not how it works where I live, or in all the other states for that matter. If California decided to follow suit and become an “open carry” state, allowing folks to carry loaded weapons around,that would be fine with me, but I was bound by the laws on the books at that time.

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  20. Manwhore

    None of these citizens will be able to get me. In fact, these bullies can pick on one small kid, beat him down, and kill him, but I challenge them. If these cowards mess with someone their own size I would own them. I’m not a little guy pick on somoeone your own size.

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  21. CzarChasm

    Gotta bring this down again. I hate that squished-up reply chain! Anyway….

    richtaylor365 said:
    …but I was bound by the laws on the books at that time.

    Right, as opposed to being bound by your oath to protect and defend the Constitution.

    In my last reply, I purposely avoided making it personal about you rich. I didn’t say things like, “In my state, you would be responsible for escalating the situation.” And if you hadn’t phrased the above quote such as you did, I would not have commented on the oath as being your personal failure of living up to either. But, knowingly or not, you bring up a part of the Thomas killing and myriad other abuses that occur all too often across this country, and that is how seemingly easy it is for LEOs in America today to not give a second thought to their oath in the daily performance of their duties. In theory, and in fact, in law itself, no one is “bound” to obey unconstitutional laws, no LEO is required to enforce them and no court is bound to uphold them. When I hear things like, “Carrying a concealed weapon is a felony” from LEOs (not just you rich, recall that I lived in CA for many years and heard that all the time up until I left), I look at the 2nd Amendment and see the words, “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed,” and know in my heart that every day that LEO goes to work, he’s willing to completely ignore his oath. For the record, what that LEO should be consulting instead of some state or local statute, is 16 Am Jur 2d, Sec 177 late 2d, Sec 256, which says in part:

    The General rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and name of law is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose; since unconstitutionality dates from the time of it’s enactment and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it. An unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is as inoperative as if it had never been passed. Such a statute leaves the question that it purports to settle just as it would be had the statute not been enacted.

    Since an unconstitutional law is void, the general principles follow that it imposes no duties, confers no rights, creates no office, bestows no power or authority on anyone, affords no protection, and justifies no acts performed under it…..

    A void act cannot be legally consistent with a valid one. An unconstitutional law cannot operate to supersede any existing valid law. Indeed, insofar as a statute runs counter to the fundamental law of the lend, it is superseded thereby.

    No one Is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it.

    What I don’t get is that the above is actually the law that every single American LEO is bound by, regardless of jurisdiction, and they all take a solemn oath to protect and defend the same document that the above serves to support them in the furtherance of that oath. Are oaths now obsolete? Do LEOs feel no pangs of conscience when they act against the oath that they freely and knowledgeably agreed to uphold?

    I don’t know what the answer is. But I do know that until Americans can count on law enforcement reverting back to being peace officers instead of compliance enforcers, no citizen is safe from the very people sworn to serve their interests, and the logical conclusion to that is that no LEO will be safe when the citizens have had enough. I know one other thing too. Six officers of the Fullerton, CA PD on the night of July 5, 2011, didn’t give one good crap about their oaths as they beat Kelly Thomas to death. Sadly, their kind can be seen carrying out similar attacks on citizens on a nearly daily basis across this country. I guess that fact alone answers my question about the oath being obsolete. It is, and so therefore too, is the Constitution.

    CC

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  22. CzarChasm

    Well, Friends For Fullerton released the entire press conference, which the video in the OP is an excerpt of. The question(s) about whether or not the other four officers will be charged are answered during an extensive question and answer session following the D.A’s. opening statement. They won’t be charged, and the Code Of Silence will be upheld. No forcing them to be witnesses against the two charged officers. No compelling them to cooperate with either the continuing investigation or the court case. D.A. says that is a CA law. Gee, who’d ‘a thunk it?

    Anyway, here’s the video. The Q&A starts about 17:50. First question is, “Is there a possibility that charges will be filed against the other four officers?” Goes downhill from there as far as I’m concerned.

    CC

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