An LAPD cop who allegedly kicked a restrained woman in the crotch and stomach was charged with suspicion of "assaulting an arrestee under color of authority," the L.A. County District Attorney's office announced today.
It's rare for a local law enforcer to be charged for on-the-job violence. In this case, suspect Alesia Thomas died while in custody, and the LAPD was quick to call the actions of 48-year-old Officer Mary O'Callaghan "questionable:"
The suspect was reported to have struggled with cops after they arrived at her home in the 9100 block of South Broadway in South Los Angeles to question her about allegedly abandoning her two children at an area LAPD station on July 22, 2012.
While wearing leg restraints and handcuffs in the back of a cruiser, she was allegedly kicked in the crotch and possibly called "fat ass."
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According to the DA's office:
A police cruiser's video camera captured O'Callaghan kicking Thomas in the stomach and groin area and pushing her in the throat.
While in the patrol car, Thomas lost consciousness and paramedics were called. She was transported to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.
The police department says the case is still under investigation and that the officer is facing "internal departmental discipline." She was removed from the field following the incident. Chief Charlie Beck stated this today:
Our detectives worked closely with the District Attorney's Office on preparing and filing this case. The officer's actions that day, as seen on the video, did not meet the expectations I have of our officers in the field. As troubling as this case is, it demonstrates that our system of discovering misconduct is working, and that we will hold our officers accountable for their actions. Every single day LAPD officers are asked to do extraordinary things for people while proudly wearing the LAPD badge. I hope the community recognizes that the act of one officer cannot and should not be an overall reflection of this department.
Prosecutors declined to file a charge of involuntary manslaughter because, they argue, there's no direct link between the woman's death and O'Callaghan's alleged actions. The coroner's office concluded the cause of death for the 35-year-old was "undetermined."
The officer will likely face $35,000 bail. Three years behind bars are possible if she's convicted.
[Added at 1:28 p.m.]: Los Angeles Police Commission President Steve Soboroff issued this statement this afternoon:
It was the Los Angeles Police Department that brought this case to the District Attorney for consideration of criminal filing. LAPD holds its employees accountable for their actions both administratively and criminally.
Police Commission vice president Paula Madison:
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The internal investigative process works and civilian oversight works. In this incident, the misconduct was identified by the department's internal and criminal investigation. This demonstrates that the department conducts very thorough investigations into administrative and criminal matters and, when warranted, presents investigations to the District Attorney for their consideration.
[Update at 1:41 p.m.]:Tyler Izen, president of the LAPD union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, issued a statement noting that O'Callaghan had been commended by her department in the past:
While I cannot comment on the specific incident because I have not seen the video and the officer involved has her own legal counsel, the alleged actions of the officer are incongruous with her reputation as an officer who was known to be diligent, courteous and ethical. This officer had previously been publicly commended by the LAPD for community efforts and was publicly commended for helping a burglary victim's family who lost all their presents at Christmas time. In commending her, the department said, "This is yet another fine display of the professional attitude displayed by the men and women at the Los Angeles Police Department Southeast Division, placing the interest of the community first."