Children of Woman Who Died in Police Custody Awarded $2.5 Million

police custody death

police custody death

Los Angeles City Council members voted unanimously to pay a $2.5 million settlement to the children of Alesia Thomas last month. Thomas died while in police custody.

On July 22, 2012, Thomas dropped her two children, 3 and 12, off at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Southeast station. She told authorities she felt that she could not properly care for them and left. Officers went to Thomas’ home later that same evening, questioned her, and attempted to arrest her for child endangerment. The dashboard video of her arrest showed a troubling scene. Mary O’Callaghan, one of the arresting officers, is shown threatening to break Thomas’ arms and “punt” her in the groin if she doesn’t stop flailing in the backseat of the patrol car. O’Callaghan then jabs Thomas’ throat and thrusts her boot into her groin multiple times.

Throughout the video, Thomas is heard stating that she can’t breathe or move. After restraining Thomas’ legs, O’Callaghan is shown looking inside the car, laughing and smoking a cigarette. Thomas can later be heard asking for an ambulance before she loses consciousness. She died at a hospital later than evening.

An autopsy found that Thomas was under the influence of cocaine, which was likely the largest contributing factor in her death. The coroner stated that it was impossible to determine if the altercation with O’Callaghan had anything to do with Thomas’ death.

On June 5 of this year, O’Callaghan was convicted of assault under the color of authority and sentenced to 36 months in jail. At her sentencing she addressed Thomas’ mother saying, “Mother to mother, I am extremely sorry for the loss of your daughter.”

If you have been injured due to negligence and are in need of a personal injury or wrongful death lawyer in southern California, please contact the Booth & Koskoff office nearest you for a free personal injury case evaluation.

Source: LA Times, 3 Oct 2015

Image by Aaron Burden via Unsplash.