An LAPD officer has been found guilty of assault for repeatedly kicking a handcuffed suspect, who later died in policy custody, the Daily Mail is reporting.
A jury of 11 women and one man deliberated for three days in the assault trial of 50-year-old LAPD officer Mary O’Callaghan, who had pleaded not guilty to the charges following a 2012 incident.
On July 22, 2012, O’Callaghan was called to assist in an arrest following reports of a possible child abandonment. The suspect, 35-year-old Alecia (or Alesia; different reports use different spellings of her name) Thomas, was in the back of O’Callaghan’s squad car, handcuffed and in leg restraints, when she began flailing in her restraints. O’Callagan told her to “knock it off” and threatened to “punt” her in a part of her body, using a profanity for the female genitalia, then began assaulting her, according to the Los Angeles Times. Dashcam footage showed the LAPD officer kicking the suspect in the abdomen and groin, and pushing her in the throat. At one point, O’Callaghan kicked Thomas so hard that her body was captured on camera shaking. Thomas then lost consciousness, and O’Callagahn’s recording cut off.
Footage from another squad car’s dashcam showed O’Callaghan walking outside the patrol car, lighting a cigarette, and saying “That ain’t good.”
Thomas later died at an area hospital.
O’Callaghan was charged with assault under color of authority for her actions, but prosecutors declined to charge her in Thomas’ death, citing insufficient evidence that the assault caused her death. After an autopsy, the L.A. County coroner’s office ruled that cocaine intoxication was likely a “major factor” in the suspect’s death.
O’Callaghan’s attorney, Robert Rico, claimed that the jury’s verdict was based on emotion rather than the facts of the case.
“I firmly believe the evidence presented by the prosecution did not show her force was unreasonable or unnecessary.”
Community activist Najee Ali, however, praised the verdict, saying that it’s rare for a cop to be prosecuted for police brutality, and rarer still for a cop to be convicted.
The next phase of O’Callagan’s trial will be the sentencing phase, scheduled for July 23. Prosecutors are asking for the maximum sentence of three years, which would be served at the county jail. Her attorney, however, plans to appeal the LAPD officer’s guilty verdict and request a new trial.
[Image courtesy of : Getty Images/David McNew]