The attorney for an LAPD officer accused this week of assault under color of authority for allegedly kicking a handcuffed woman, who later died, said his client is "absolutely devastated" that prosecutors decided to file charges.
The Los Angeles County district attorney charged Los Angeles police officer Mary O'Callaghan, 48, on Wednesday in connection with the July 22, 2012, incident that ended with the death of Alesia Thomas.
The 19-year department veteran was supposed to help the arresting officers place Thomas, 35, in a patrol car. While Thomas was in handcuffs and leg restraints, prosecutors said, a police cruiser's video camera captured the officer kicking Thomas in the stomach and groin area and pushing her in the throat.
Thomas, once inside the patrol car, lost consciousness, and paramedics were called. Shortly afterward, she was pronounced dead at a hospital.
O'Callaghan's lawyer, Robert Rico, said his client is "absolutely devastated the D.A. chose to file against her."
An autopsy by the Los Angeles County coroner determined cocaine intoxication probably was "a major factor" in Thomas' death. It was impossible to determine what role, if any, the struggle with the officers played. Because of that uncertainty, the official cause of death was listed as "undetermined."
O'Callaghan was one of several officers sent to Thomas' home in the 9100 block of South Broadway Avenue to investigate after she left her children at a South L.A. police station.
O'Callaghan is currently suspended without pay after Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck directed she face a disciplinary panel known as a Board of Rights, according to sources not authorized to discuss the matter. The panel will determine whether she violated department policy and recommend a punishment up to termination.
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