On Friday, a jury in Los Angeles found Officer Mary O’Callaghan guilty of assault under color of authority, the Los Angeles Times reports. Video shows O’Callaghan slapping and kicking the handcuffed Alesia Thomas, who lost consciousness and died soon after, in the back of her squad car. O’Callaghan was not charged in Thomas’ death.
According to the Times, in the full, un-edited video of the July 2012 arrest, Thomas is shown breathing heavily and repeating the words, “I can’t.” The Times also reports that Thomas asked officers to call an ambulance 30 minutes before one was:
A video from a dashboard camera in another patrol car, which was also played during the trial, recorded O’Callaghan laughing and smoking a cigarette as she peeked inside the car at Thomas, whose legs were tied with a nylon hobble restraint.
“That ain’t a good sign,” O’Callaghan says out loud in the video.
Assistant Head Deputy Dist. Atty. Shannon Presby told jurors that O’Callaghan was “immune from any empathy” and that the video clearly showed the officer kicking Thomas in the crotch and the stomach.
The Times reports that an L.A. county coroner’s autopsy determined that cocaine intoxication was likely a “major factor” in Thomas’ death, but that it was not possibly to assess how much of an effect the struggle with O’Callaghan had. The official cause of Thomas’ death was “undetermined.”
Before she died, Thomas, who suffered from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and drug addiction, left her 3-year-old and 12-year-old children at the LAPD’s Southeast Area station, the Times reported in 2013:
Thomas was attempting to surrender the children to police custody because she felt she could no longer care for them properly, police officials and an attorney representing Thomas’ family have said.
Officers went in search of Thomas and found her at her home in the 9000 block of South Broadway in South L.A. After questioning her, the officers attempted to arrest her on suspicion of child endangerment, the department’s account said.
“I am pleased that the jury agreed with our assessment of the evidence in this case,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement on Friday. “The verdict proves the criminal justice system works.”