A South Los Angeles woman who was treated to a “leg sweep” by an LAPD cop after allegedly struggling with officers died while in custody, police said in a statement tonight. In-car video of the situation, when the suspect was in custody, “revealed some questionable tactics and improper comments,” according to an LAPD statement. The Los Angeles Times said the woman was stomped in the groin and possibly called “fat ass.”
The department identified the woman as 35-year-old Alesia Thomas, a mother of two children who cops said were abandoned at the LAPD's Southeast Division station. It all happened …
… July 22. It's not clear why the department is only now reporting the death, more than a month later, but the LAPD has been hit recently by a string of bad press, including two videotaped confrontations with suspects in two weeks.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck tried to get out in front of this one by stating:
I take all in-custody death investigations very seriously and directed that the officers involved be removed from field duties until further details are known, including what part intoxicants and physical conditions contributed. I'm confident we will get to the truth, no matter where that leads us.
Police said they tracked down Thomas in the 9000 block of South Broadway in South L.A. after the children, ages 3 and 12, were abandoned about 2 a.m. that night.
They say she was combative:
As the officers were taking Thomas into custody she began actively resisting arrest, attempting to pull away from the officers. One officer preformed a leg sweep and took Thomas to the ground to gain control of her. Two other officers then handcuffed Thomas behind her back. After the arrival of a police sergeant from Southeast Division the officers walked Thomas to their police vehicle. Thomas continued to struggle with the officers and another unit was requested for assistance.
Thomas continued to resist the officers attempting to place her in the rear seat of their police vehicle. To further help in control Thomas' resistant actions the officers placed a hobble restraint device on her ankles and then placed her in a seated position in the back seat of the car.
Within minutes of being placed in the police vehicle, the officers noticed Thomas did not appear to be breathing and immediately called for Los Angeles Fire Department Paramedics. They transported Thomas to a local hospital, but she failed to respond to emergency medical treatment and died a short time later.
About five officers appeared to be involved.
The incident was under investigation both internally and criminally, police said.