Crime & Justice

LAPD officer sentenced for assaulting suspect who later died

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, founder of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, left, Ada Moses, 91, the grandmother of Alesia Thomas, who died in 2012 after allegedly being kicked by a Los Angeles Police Department officer while handcuffed, holding a photo of her grand daughter, seen at left with little sister, and Lita Herron, a community activist, take questions from the media in Los Angeles on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. The officer, Mary O'Callaghan, was sentenced Thursday, July 23, 2015, to 16 months in county jail for assault under the color of authority.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, founder of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, left, Ada Moses, 91, the grandmother of Alesia Thomas, who died in 2012 after allegedly being kicked by a Los Angeles Police Department officer while handcuffed, holding a photo of her grand daughter, seen at left with little sister, and Lita Herron, a community activist, take questions from the media in Los Angeles on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. The officer, Mary O'Callaghan, was sentenced Thursday, July 23, 2015, to 16 months in county jail for assault under the color of authority.
Damian Dovarganes/AP
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, founder of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, left, Ada Moses, 91, the grandmother of Alesia Thomas, who died in 2012 after allegedly being kicked by a Los Angeles Police Department officer while handcuffed, holding a photo of her grand daughter, seen at left with little sister, and Lita Herron, a community activist, take questions from the media in Los Angeles on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. The officer, Mary O'Callaghan, was sentenced Thursday, July 23, 2015, to 16 months in county jail for assault under the color of authority.
Alesia Thomas, 35, died in police custody in 2012.
NBC LA


A veteran Los Angeles police officer was sentenced Thursday to 16 months in county jail for assaulting a suspect who died following her July 2012 arrest, according to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office.

Officer Mary O’Callaghan, 50, was convicted last month for assault under color of authority for pushing, shoving and kicking Alesia Thomas during her arrest, the DA’s office said in a statement.

"As I expressed at the time, I was very concerned about this incident when it was first brought to light,” LAPD Chief Beck said in a statement. “It should be clear to everyone that the LAPD and the criminal justice system will hold officers accountable for their actions when they operate outside the law.”

O’Callaghan, an 18-year LAPD veteran, received the maximum sentence of three years, but L.A. County Superior Court Judge Sam Ohta suspended 20 months of her sentence. He denied a motion from the defense to place her on probation instead, according to the statement.

Officers investigating a possible child abandonment arrived at Thomas’ residence on July 22, 2012, and placed her under arrest.

In video of the incident captured by a police cruiser camera, O’Callaghan can be seen kicking a handcuffed and restrained Thomas in the stomach and groin and pushing her in the throat. At some point, Thomas loses consciousness, and paramedics are called to the scene.

Thomas was transported to a hospital, where she died. An autopsy by the Los Angeles County coroner determined that cocaine intoxication was likely “a major factor” in her death and that it was impossible to determine what role, if any, the struggle with officers played in her death, according to the Los Angeles Times, which posted an annotated version of the video online.

This story has been updated.