Video Shows LAPD Officer Hit And Kick Woman Who Died During Her Arrest
A disturbing video was played for jurors yesterday in the case against LAPD Officer Mary O'Callaghan, who has been charged with assault under the color of authority in the arrest of a 35-year-old woman that ended in her death.
Alesia Thomas, 35, was arrested at her home in the 9100 block of South Broadway in South L.A. on July 22, 2012 after she allegedly left her children, ages 3 and 12, at a police station with some clean clothes and a note saying she couldn't care for them anymore and their grandmother's phone number, NBC LA reports. During that arrest, Officer Mary O'Callaghan, an 18-year veteran of the force, was caught on video threatening to "punt" her in her genitals (she used a different word for genitals), hitting Thomas in the throat, and kicking her. During all of that, Thomas had her legs bound by a nylon restraint and her hands cuffed behind her back. Thomas told officers she was having trouble breathing and standing, but they chose to ignore her, believing she was faking it. Thomas was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
In footage from the dash cam in another police car, O'Callaghan can be seen lighting up a cigarette and looking through the car window at an unresponsive Thomas. She then says, "This ain't a good sign."
O'Callaghan is not charged with Thomas' death, in which the L.A. County Coroner has said cocaine use plus a heart condition was likely a factor, CBS LA reports. O'Callaghan is only being charged with assault under color of authority. She faces three years in prison if convicted.
Assistant Head Deputy Dist. Atty. Shannon Presby said yesterday that O'Callaghan "kicked first and asked questions later" because she was annoyed that Thomas wasn't sitting in the backseat of the squad car as she'd instructed her, the L.A. Times reports. "Evidence will show it was frustration and anger that led the defendant to shove and kick Ms. Thomas, not need, not lawful necessity," Presby said.
O'Callaghan's lawyer played a recording which Thomas tells O'Callaghan, "if you want to kill me, just kill me." O'Callaghan is heard telling Thomas that she doesn't want to hurt her, but wants to get her help. He also argued that O'Callaghan was using her foot to push Thomas into the seat, not to kick her.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said in a report that kicking Thomas was "ineffective and inappropriate."