Five LAPD officers are under investigation in the death of a woman who stopped breathing during an arrest struggle that included a female officer stomping on her genital area as well as the use of additional force by others.
LAPD commander Bob Green confirmed that one officer threatened to kick Alesia Thomas in the genitals if she did not comply with attempts to put her in the back of a patrol car, reports The Los Angeles Times. The officer followed through on her threat when Thomas did not comply.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck stated on Thursday:
“I take all in-custody death investigations very seriously. I am confident we will get to the truth no matter where that leads us.”
Thomas is seen in a patrol car video breathing shallowly in the car’s backseat, but she eventually stops breathing. The new incident involving five LAPD officers comes just one day after Beck announced he will transfer a captain from his command for a separate videotaped incident showing two police officers slamming a handcuffed woman to the ground, then high-fiving.
CBS News notes that Thomas surrendered custody of her 3-year-old and 12-year-old children at a police station on July 22, saying that she was a drug addict and could no longer care for them. Police later tracked the woman down and attempted to arrest her on suspicion of child endangerment.
Deputy Chief Bob Green reported that one officer knocked Thomas to the ground while two other officer handcuffed her and attempted to put her in the patrol car. Two other officers also arrived on the scene. Green confirmed that officers used a “hobble restraint device,” which is a strap wrapped around the ankles, to assist them with her arrest.
The deputy also confirmed that a female officer kicked Thomas in the genitals while trying to get her in the back of the patrol car. The patrol car’s video shows the woman breathing shallowly until she stops breathing completely. Beck stated that he intends to investigate if she was intoxicated during the altercation or if her death could have been caused by a medical condition.
Until then, the 5 LAPD officers involved are also under investigation in the altercation.