The Los Angeles City Council has unanimously voted to pay $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit with the children of a woman who was kicked in the crotch by a Los Angeles Police officer.
The woman later died, resulting in the officer’s conviction for assault under the color of authority.
The settlement the council voted on Wednesday came more than three years after Officer Mary O’Callaghan hit and kicked Alesia Thomas as the officer shoved the handcuffed 35-year-old suspect into the back of a squad car in South Los Angeles. Thomas’ arrest was captured by cameras in two patrol cars, and the images played a key role in O’Callaghan’s conviction, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The city attorney’s office confirmed the settlement to The Times.
Thomas died not long after she was arrested on July 22, 2012, when police arrived at her South L.A. home to investigate claims that she had abandoned her children by dropping them off at a police station, The Times reported.
The video captured by patrol car cameras showed the veteran officer jab at Thomas’ throat with an open hand and threaten to break her arms and kick her in the crotch. O’Callaghan is also seen raising her boot and striking Thomas, whose body shakes in response. Thomas at one point asked officers for an ambulance — more than 30 minutes before one was called.
O’Callaghan’s attorney argued the officer used “reasonable, justified and necessary” force because Thomas wasn’t following orders.
The officer was not charged in connection with Thomas’ death but was convicted of assault under the color of authority. The coroner office determined cocaine intoxication was probably a “major factor” in Thomas’ death.
O’Callaghan, a Marine Corps veteran who had been with the LAPD for nearly 18 years, was sentenced to 36 months in jail. The last 20 months of the sentence were suspended, meaning she could be released within a few months with good behavior. Before the sentencing, she tearfully apologized to Thomas’s mother.
—City News Service
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