Battling drug addiction and mental illness, Alesia Thomas dropped her two children off at a Los Angeles police station in July 2012, telling them to walk inside and ask for help because she was no longer able to support them.
The two children, ages 12 and 3, wandered into the building at 2 a.m., surprising an officer who was on-duty, telling him that their mother did not want them anymore and that they had not eaten for two days.
LAPD tracked Thomas down to her home and arrested her for child abandonment; cuffing her hands and shackling her legs; beating, punching and kicking her while shoving her into the back of a police car as Thomas pleaded, “I can’t breathe.”
The 35-year-old woman never made it out alive.
And the cop who beat her, Mary O’Callaghan, is now in prison, serving a 16-month sentence for assault because even though the cause of Thomas’ death was “undetermined,” video footage from that night clearly shows the cop abusing her authority.
And the two kids she abandoned in a moment of helplessness and desperation?
They are in line to receive a $2.5 million settlement approved Wednesday by the Los Angeles City Council, so hopefully they won’t be missing anymore meals.
The video captured by two patrol car cameras, which was played during O’Callaghan’s criminal trial this summer, showed the veteran officer telling Thomas to “knock it off” as she flailed inside the patrol car. The officer, using profanity, threatened to break her arms and “punt” her in the groin.
The officer then jabbed at Thomas’ throat with an open hand. Later, O’Callaghan repeatedly jammed her boot into the woman’s crotch.
Throughout the recording, Thomas breathes heavily and repeatedly says, “I can’t.”
“I can’t move,” Thomas said at one point. “I can’t breathe.”
O’Callaghan was also captured on video laughing and smoking a cigarette as she looked inside the car at Thomas, whose legs were restrained.
But O’Callaghan stopped laughing when realizing Thomas had stopped breathing.
“I’m going to do a sternum rub on her. See if she’s faking it,” O’Callaghan told another officer before reaching through the open window and rubbing her knuckles across Thomas’ sternum, which is supposed to jolt people back into consciousness.
That is, if they’re still alive.
“That’s ain’t a good sign,” she said when Thomas did not respond to the sternum rub.
Thomas would be pronounced dead at a hospital soon after, but it was obvious she had already died.
In July, O’Callaghan was sentenced to 36 months with 20 months suspended, meaning she went in facing 16 months, expecting months shaved off for good behavior, so she could be released any month now.
As of last week, she is still employed by the LAPD because it has not yet made the effort to terminate her.
But a police spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times that she had not been paid “for quite some time.”