Alesia Thomas was killed a few weeks ago while in the back of a LAPD patrol car. It’s what happened in those moments preceding her death that officials hope to get more information on.
According to the LA Times, Thomas was being placed under arrest for suspected child endangerment. She had previously left her children, 3 and 12-years old, at the Southeat Area police station, saying she wanted to relinquish custody of them.
As the cops tried to arrest Thomas, they say she resisted. They reportedly struggled to get her in the car, saying something like, “Get your fat ass in the car.” One cop threatened to kick her in the genitals if she didn’t comply. The officer followed through on that threat—“stomping” on her genital area.
One of the patrol cars’ cameras caught some of the incident and showed Thomas gasping for breath as the police put her face-down in the backseat. Moments later she stopped breathing. She was pronounced dead after being transported to the hospital.
According to the police, Thomas tried to relinquish her children because “she was a drug addict and felt she could not care for them.” This is what set off the chain of events that led to her death.
The LAPD found her at her home on South Broadway. Their official reports say nothing of the kick that was administered or the strong words exchanged between officers and Thomas. Instead, they say her struggling and her size made it difficult for officers to gain control of the situation.
They eventually used something called a “hobble restraint device” to keep her feet from flailing and to help them get her into the car.
Their reports didn’t say, either, if officers attempted to provide medical assistance to Thomas as they waited for the ambulance to arrive after she quit breathing. There were no indications in the reports that Thomas was high or on drugs at the time, though officials are waiting toxicology reports to see if this may have played a role in her resistance and/or her death.
Four officers and one sergeant were removed from “field duties” immediately after Thomas’ death.
Police brutality isn’t as rare as many people would think—it’s just rarely talked about. And even more common is simple police mistreatment. But a loud and unkind officer isn’t always in violation of the law, despite their effects on an arrest and potential criminal case.
If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime and you are convinced you weren’t treated fairly, we may be able to help. The police and the prosecutor are not on your side as a criminal defendant. You need a local criminal defense lawyer to be your advocate within the courts.