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Mom of woman who died in LAPD custody reacts to not guilty plea

The mother of a woman killed while in LAPD custody is responding to an officer's not guilty plea on a felony assault charge.
October 16, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The mother of a 35-year-old woman killed while in custody of the Los Angeles Police Department is responding to an officer's not guilty plea on a felony assault charge.

Sandra Thomas held a press conference in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday. She believes the officer who arrested her daughter should be facing more than an assault charge.

Alesia Thomas died while in LAPD custody in July 2012. Officer Mary O'Callaghan now stands accused of assaulting Alesia during the arrest. O'Callaghan pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.

Dash cam video from a patrol car is proof, according to Dale Galipo, the attorney for the Thomas family.

"Some of the most egregious force happened after she was handcuffed, clearly not a threat to anyone. And that included seven kicks to her groin," said Galipo.

The video has not been made public. It's under seal by a judge so potential jurors won't be swayed before the case goes to trial. O'Callaghan's attorney, Robert Rico, says the video will show his client was dealing with a combative suspect.

"We look forward to getting a fair trial with a jury that's not burdened with a video that gets spun out of control on YouTube and other sources of media," said Rico.

But the Thomas family has filed a civil rights lawsuit against O'Callaghan on Alesia's behalf and wants a federal judge to unseal the video.

"We believe that the video, when it's released to the public, will clearly show that excessive force was used and will also show that the restraint used by the officers was cause of death," said Galipo.

The coroner could not determine whether Alesia's cocaine use that day or the hits during the arrest were factors in her death. Sandra Thomas says she plans to watch the video of her daughter's arrest, whether it's released before or during O'Callaghan's trial.

"You have to prepare yourself to handle the situation to clear it out, so you can move forward," she said.

O'Callaghan will be in court again on Dec. 5 to pick a date for her preliminary hearing.


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