LOS ANGELES (AP) — At least five police officers are under investigation after a woman died during a violent arrest in which an officer kicked her genitals, police officials said.
"I take all in-custody death investigations very seriously," Chief Charlie Beck said Thursday in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. "I am confident we will get to the truth no matter where that leads us."
Alesia Thomas, 35, died July 22.
The confrontation with officers occurred after she abandoned her 3-year-old and 12-year-old children at a police station around 2 a.m. and they wandered inside, drawing the attention of an officer, police said.
"The officer said, 'Hey, what are you kids doing here?' They said, 'Well our mom doesn't want us anymore. She dropped us off at the police station,'" Cmdr. Andrew Smith, a department spokesman, told KTTV. Smith said the children told the officers they hadn't eaten for a couple of days.
Police Cmdr. Bob Green told the Times that the woman was giving up the children because she was a drug addict who could not care for them.
Beck wants to investigate whether she was intoxicated at the time of the altercation, or if her death may have been caused by a medical condition.
Police tracked down the South Los Angeles resident and were trying to arrest her on suspicion of child endangerment, police said. The incident was caught on a patrol car camera.
A Police Department press release at the time said Thomas "put up a violent struggle" and that "she began actively resisting arrest, attempting to pull away from the officers."
One officer knocked her to the ground by sweeping her legs out from beneath her and two other officers then handcuffed Thomas behind her back and attempted to lead her to a patrol car, according to the department's official report. Two other officers also arrived at the scene.
Green said Thomas was a large woman and officers used a "hobble restraint device" — a strap that was wrapped around her ankles.
Green confirmed to the Times that during the struggle to get Thomas into the back of the patrol car, a female officer threatened to kick Thomas in the genitals and then did so.
Once Thomas was in the car, the video showed her breathing shallowly until she drew her last breath.
A neighbor awakened by the noise described Thomas as the aggressor and said he did not see officers do anything wrong, the Times said.
Gerald McCrary Sr., 55, said he saw Thomas break free from plastic handcuffs and officers then put her in metal handcuffs and tried to calm her down as she sat against a wall.
"They were talking to her, asking her to calm down, that everything will be all right," McCrary said.
He said officers brought Thomas water to drink and she told them, "My heart hurts. I can't walk anymore."
Thomas was taken downstairs from the apartment complex with one officer on each arm, according to McCrary, who later followed and saw Thomas in a police car "shaking her head against the back seat." At a later point he saw her lying on a sidewalk as paramedics arrived.
McCrary's live-in caregiver, Charmaine Hood, told the Times that the officers were trying to help Thomas.
"I didn't see them try to harm her in any shape or fashion," Hood said. "I seen them protect her from hurting herself."
In a separate incident that was also videotaped, two officers were shown slamming a handcuffed woman to the ground. Beck announced Wednesday that he was transferring a captain from his command in response to that incident.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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