Alesia Thomas is one of many women who, in the last several years, have met a brutal death in the custody of police. The officers involved in Thomas’ arrest are now on trial in Los Angeles. While Thomas’ case is receiving local coverage, it hasn’t garnered much publicity outside of California. But, as many other cases should have, hers is one of many deaths of women of color in Los Angeles and throughout the nation in recent years. We focus on Black men as they comprise the bulk of deaths due to police brutality, but women, including transgender women, are dying too and they deserve an equal amount of our attention.
Arrest video played in trial of LAPD officer accused in woman’s death – LA Times
May 20, 2015
A video played in court for jurors Wednesday showed a Los Angeles police officer strike a handcuffed woman in the throat and use a foot to kick or shove her in the groin moments before the woman lost consciousness in the back of a patrol car.
The recording, captured by a squad car camera, showed Officer Mary O’Callaghan telling Alesia Thomas to “knock it off” as Thomas was flailing inside the vehicle. The officer threatened to “punt” Thomas in the groin, using a profanity for her genital area.
As O’Callaghan jabbed at the woman’s throat with her hand, Thomas looked into the camera with wide eyes. The recording captured Thomas, who also had her legs tied with a nylon hobble restraint, repeatedly saying, “I can’t.”
The video showed O’Callaghan raise her boot and strike Thomas, whose body shook in response. A few minutes later, Thomas’ eyes closed and her head fell backward, the video showed. The recording then cut off.
Video from a dashboard camera in a different police vehicle showed O’Callaghan walking near the patrol cars. She lit a cigarette and looked inside the car where Thomas had been placed.
“That ain’t a good sign,” O’Callaghan said out loud.
Thomas, 35, was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
The opening statements in O’Callaghan’s assault trial marked the first time that the video has been shown publicly since Thomas’ death in 2012.
Assistant Head Deputy Dist. Atty. Shannon Presby told jurors that O’Callaghan kicked and shoved Thomas out of frustration when the woman wouldn’t comply with her orders to sit in the backseat.
“The defendant kicked first and asked questions later,” Presby said.